New York Men's Day Kicks Off The Newest Fashion Week

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The official Fashion Week that New York's menswear designers have been waiting for is finally here. While it won't rival the size and scope of the Women's seasonal event that it finally extricated itself from, It is already proving why it has been long overdue —even before it has technically started.
Yesterday, New York Men's Day gave the week its unofficial kick-start with a series of twelve presentations split into two shifts, morning and afternoon from some of America's emerging men's labels. Organized by Agentry PR, the event has previously taken place a part of the formerly merged New York Fashion Week, but as with most men's shows, got swallowed up in that overstuffed schedule. Now that it has room to breathe, all the designers should benefit from more focused attention, and they rose to the occasion. The twelve labels on the roster range from a few who are probably ready for their own full shows to newbies just starting to cause a stir. Standouts included David Hart's Bauhaus inspired suits and sportswear (pictured above), Cadet's continuously evolving take on military looks —including an appearance from cult model Chad White— and immaculately styled retro tinged tailoring from Eponymous. Have a glimpse at those collections as well as looks from Boyswear, CWST, Garciavelez, PLAC, Kenneth Ning, Matiere, Fingers Crossed, Chapter and Carlos Campos in the galleries above for the morning presentations and below for the afternoon shows.

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Fashion Week's New Homes Are Just Where We Thought They Would Be

There were no big surprises as IMG officially announced the new homes for its New York Fashion Week shows, and it will be just the pain in the ass we predicted. Next season's official shows will be taking place at two far flung locations as had been widely predicted. The schedule will be split between Skylight at Moynihan Station at 360 West 33rd Street and Skylight Clarkson Square at 550 Washington Street. In addition, IMG has full acquired Made at Milk which has been providing show space for designers at little or no rental cost, and it will continue to operate independent of the other locations. That means that This September's fashion week shows will have press and buyers shuttling between 33rd Street, the western end of 15th street and the far western edge of SoHo just below Houston street. That doesn't include other popular venues like Industria, Spring Studios in Tribeca, the various Armories and any other of the off-site locations that will be required to host the hundreds of shows that aren't officially on IMG's misleadingly tight schedule.
So it really won't be that much different, although Moynihan station shaves about 30 blocks off the span of territory now that Lincoln Center is off the map. One plus is that the men's shows will be consolidated at Skylight Clarkson Square in July, so they won't have to compete for venues and production teams, and that might ease the schedule just a bit. Moynihan Station, the Farley Post Office which will ultimately become a full train station has the advantage of being right on an express stop for the A, C and E trains, but the other two locations are at least a couple of crosstown blocks away from the subway, so expect Uber to be as busy and peak priced as ever. Eventually, Fashion Week is expected to consolidate itself at the fabled Culture Shed planned for Hudson Yards, but since that isn't really expected to be ready until 2019, it looks like this is what Fashion Week is going to look like for the foreseeable future.
Get your comfortable shoes ready, fashion folks.
Oh, who are we kidding, they're never going to wear comfortable shoes.

NYFW’s New Homes: Midtown and SoHo (WWD)


Q: Where Will Fashion Week Be Held Next Seaon?
A: Everywhere

Today's WWD has a lead article speculating on where WME-IMG will stage (the formerly titled Mercedes-Benz) New York Fashion Week this September. There are three leading candidates, all of which have major drawbacks.
First off is Moynihan Station in the old James Farley Post Office (pictured above) across Eighth Avenue from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. They have the space, and fashion events have been held there before. It is also centrally located near subway lines, but the drawback is that this particular stretch of midtown is reliably home to Manhattan's worst traffic patterns which could affect the multitude of trucks required for loading and unloading the multiple shows that would be taking place.
Also, if the station is holding fashion shows, then when exactly is it going to turn into the train station that we have been hearing about for the past 20 years? That's an answer for a whole other article, but Moynihan Station is  not the only option.
Also highly touted is Skylight Clarkson Square, which will house this summer's Men's Fashion Week shows and is also a regular home to many runway shows. 70,000 square feet on Washington Street in Western SoHo makes it a cool downtown location, but, unlike Lincoln Center and Bryant Park, there is not exactly a subway stop at its doorstep. Not every Fashion Week attendee travels by Taxi or private car. The third likely option is tents on a Tribeca Pier on the Hudson River, possibly Pier 26? That creates its own transportation issues, but it would be near the newly resurgent Financial District shopping area as well as Condé Nast's new reportedly rodent-ridden WTC headquarters.
Then there's also the issue of how to integrate Made Fashion Week, which WME-IMG is in the process of acquiring, into the larger Fashion Week structure. Will that prompt a move to centralize at Chelsea Piers which is very close to Made's home at Milk Studios?
They will to have to think fast. Planning a mega-event in September requires more advanced planning that IMG may already have time for. WWD also notes that most people involved expect that Fashion Week will find a permanent home at the proposed Culture Shed in Hudson yards in the West 30s which has been projected for a 2017 opening. That may be an optimistic timetable, and complex may not be ready until 2019.
At the moment, it all seems to be up in the air without a real frontrunner location, so what will likely happen is a lot of shows exhaustingly scattered all over Manhattan just like we experienced this past week and in previous seasons. A decision will have to be made soon, however, so stay tuned. We may just get a manageable Fashion Week soon.

IMG Eyes New Fashion Week Venues (WWD)


What Does It Mean When The Best Swag Is Laundry Detergent?

We have already noted that the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents at Lincoln Center feel like they are phoning it in at this point. This is their last season. It is also the last season for Mercedes as the name sponsor, and nobody really knows exactly where IMG's New York Fashion Week will materialize next season. The latest rumor has it taking up in the still not fully constructed Moynihan Station in the old Post Office across the street form Penn Station which seems...plausible?
Anyway, as most of the designers of note have migrated away from the tents, this season, the usual crush of sponsor booths, on of designers' biggest complaints about the tents, has also diminished along with the endless supply of product being handed out.
The days of bringing an extra bag along to collect the day's swag haul during Fashion Week are long over, but you could still count on picking up some Tresemmé shampoo and conditioner in the Tents somewhere along the way. There is still a salon booth from the brand, but it seems a bit less welcoming this year, and they aren't handing out samples to everyone who passes by. There is an SK-II booth, which should have caused delight, but it requires a consultation and you have to log on to their website to have swag sent to your home, which is just a little to personal to The Shophound who is used to being handed a bag of occasionally bewildering beauty products that I can then distribute to my delighted female friends and family members.
You see, most of the beauty swag is of no use to The Shophound, although there were a few years there when we never had to actually bother buying shampoo and conditioner. We have dutifully collected all those beauty products and other miscellany because, it was always free, and it has allowed us to, on the odd occasion, become a fountain of free stuff for friends which has its own rewards. Who knew that a Maybelline mascara could produce such joy? Sadly, the bountiful bags of free product have become scarce.
And on to the less relevant sponsors. Papyrus is there again, and they gave us a free valentine card last week which gives them higher points for usefulness. We have already mentioned how pleased we were to see some free Yoplait yogurt distributed, but we haven't seen them reappear. Some of the tech sponsors of the past like Samsung and Logitech are now conspicuously absent, and while they didn't actually give much stuff away, they added to the trade show-like atmosphere. Their absence brings the E! Network's Fashion Police studio stage down to the floor level which, again, is a dubious development. 
Then there's Tide.
The laundry detergent brand has its own sponsor booth this season ostensibly to show visitors how easy it is to actually wash clothes which most of us naturally relegate to the ease but also the expense of the dry cleaner. On top of that, they had a generous supply of Tide pods with Febreze to hand out to pretty much anybody stepping in without having to endure too much of a hard-sell. Now, this is, admittedly a better bit of swag for people who do their own laundry —less common in New York than in most places— and have easy access to a washing machine —again, not always a given here. But drawbacks aside, we were happy to take that free Tide, and we might try to score some more. After all, it's a product we trust, and it's so much easier to carry a few pods to the laundromat (where, yes, we do wash our own clothes rather than handing them over to somebody else) rather than toting a heavy, sloshing, occasionally leaking bottle of liquid.
So there you have it. Maybe its a result of our going to far fewer shows this season, but Tide, you have won our blue ribbon for swag this season. Congratulations!


Naeem Khan Brings The Shiny

As many of you regular Shophounders out here may have noticed, we have toned down out Fashion Week coverage here  over the past few seasons. it's not that we don't love a great runway show.
We do.
We just don't want to waste our time running to and from the ones that aren't so great.
Having said that, it wouldn't seem like Fashion Week without at least one full-on parade of glam, and so we have NAEEM KHAN to thank very kindly for making sure we didn't miss out.
Fashion has become so fragmented that, at this point, most designers seem to just do their own thing without regard to trends as long as they know they have faithful customers who love what they do. Khan's thing is glamorous eveningwear with no holds barred. Sequins, palettes, bugle beads, feathers and lamé are all in welcome abundance on his runways and his Fall 2015 collection, his tenth runway show, was no exception.
There's a lot more to making sparkly gowns than throwing sequins at a bias cut dress, and Khan makes sure we can see that with intricately patterned beaded embroideries, and deceptively sleek shapes. There were some non-shiny looks in chiffon or other matte silks, but the standouts were, as always, the sparkly looks including a few beautifully engineered gowns in black with gunmetal beaded geometric or scalloped patterns that fell into tumbling palettes by the time they reached the hems. For the overstaters, there was minidress in bugle bead fringe or perhaps one in ostrich feathers? Maybe the giant white fox hunting hats were a bit much, but overall, it was, as expected, a rousing and particularly satisfying show that left his audience, clients and retailers, smiling.
Have a look at some runway highlights in the gallery below

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Robert Geller & General Idea
In Dark Rooms

There was so much going on this past weekend what with the Saturday Night Live anniversary and some Basketball thing, but, there was also Fashion Week and, as always, the first few days are still heavy on Menswear in advance of the guys finally getting their own week to themselves this Summer. One wonders if, once a bigger spotlight is shining, designers will get more room to show off. On Wednesday, we visited both sessions of New York Men's Day at Industria in the West Village, which was a great showcase for up and coming (and in some cases, old and revamping) labels, but kind of crammed them into some small, hot, brightly lit rooms. On Saturday, General Idea, a Fashion Week stalwart from designer Bumsik Choi, got Industria all to itself. Choi is one of the designers who is quietly making Seoul a fashion capital to reckon with, and has developed a faithful cult clientele. Typically, Choi has opted for a runway show, but this season he went for a more efficient presentation where visitors could examine his collection in a bit more detail. As always, bold outerwear was the standout including double lapeled coats that made a striking diagonal slash of contrast across their wearers. One irony was that despite the presentation being staged in an actual photo studio, the lighting was unusually dim, making for a strangely gloomy ambiance, but perhaps they were simply trying to mitigate the inevitably unfavorable combination of heavy wintercoats and bright lighting in a smallish, white room.

Later in the day, we made our way to Robert Geller's show at Pier 59 Studios. Last season, Geller moved to a bigger studio in the complex with an X-shaped runway that beautifully showcased the collection, but for Fall 2015, he moved back to his familiar long, narrow studio for a proscenium-like set-up against a chain-link backdrop. How it related to Geller's inspiration, Aldo and Nedo Nadi, a pair of brothers form the 1920s who were Olympic level fencers, and, apparently, extremely natty dressers. As he does, Geller melded inspiration from the past to modern techniques for a striking collection, though, again, the dark, moody lighting made it tricky to get a handle on exactly what one was seeing, even from a decent seat. We hear that there were great shoes from Common Projects, but they mostly obscured to us. Maybe next season's Men's Fashion Week will give both designers better showing options in a less tightly packed schedule. They both deserve the lights on a full power.


Mongol & Mark And Estel
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week DGAF

See that car?
It's a new Mercedes coupe. Pretty sweet, right? It's in the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents at Lincoln Center where we went this morning for a couple of runway shows.
It was the best thing we saw there.
The car.
Many runway seasons ago, when The Shophound first went to Fashion Week as a blogger, we saw a ton of shows.
It was easy. We were invited to some, and once we were inside the tent at Bryant Park with credentials, many PR reps were happy to let us inside others if there was room —and more often than not, there was. There were plenty of designers we hadn't heard of, but they all had something worthwhile to offer, even if was only a good model lineup. That was even before Mercedes had signed on as the title sponsor for Fashion Week, and now it is their last season. In the intervening years, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week has declined in prestige so much that the fact that a city lawsuit has forced it to find a new home seems almost like a relief.
It's too bad, back in the 90's when the CFDA and 7th on Sixth first erected the tents in Bryant Park, it was a sign of status to show a collection there, and nearly every major New York designer, Calvin, Ralph and Donna included, showed there. Even Prada staged shows there. One season it was the main label, the next it was Miu Miu. By the time when we stared blogging, it still seemed clear that a designer needed to be vetted somehow in order to show at the tents. They weren't just handing out runways and time slots to anybody with a label. There were standards. DVF, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Rucci, Isaac Mizrahi, Bill Blass, Jason Wu, Tuleh, J.Mendel, and others kept the prestige up. European labels like Malo and Neil Barrett debuted collections there. While there were always a few oddballs and a couple of duds in the mix, by and large it was a respectable lineup even when it included little known designers from overseas looking to make a splash with the press. We saw a few of them from Korea, Australia, India and even Serbia. Even if they failed to make the impact they had hoped, they still had something to offer creatively.
Cut to this morning, when The Shophound made our first visit to the tents this season to see Mongol by Bayarmaa Bayarkhuu in the big Theater tent at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Described as a combination of traditional Mongolian costumes combined with urban casual as well as entrepreneur lifestyle, it was kind of a mess, and certainly not ready for what is supposed to be one of the most coveted runway venues in New York. Taking into consideration the amount of hard work it takes to get anything on a runway in a major city, we can only say that it looked like on of those dusty downtown Mongolian import stores got cross pollinated with a night at the Limelight sometime around 1992. Theoretically, that could be amusing, but it wasn't. It just wasn't up to snuff, and we had to wonder why anyone thought that this would be a good designer to showcase in what still touts itself as the central hub of New York Fashion Week. Then we just figured that nobody at MBFW cares anymore. They had a runway time that needed to be filled and here was someone who would pay the fee.
That instinct was confirmed by the end of our next show, Mark And Estel, another label we were unfamiliar with. We didn't think things could get much worse, but we were wrong. Apparently the duo is not only a fashion label but a music act, too, which means that once the show was finally over, we had to hear them sing.
We thought the whole thing was a put-on for a minute, but that was the grand finale. The clothes were OK in a tawdry sort of L.A. Rock and Roll way, but they looked a lot cheaper than they actually are. Note to designers: Sheer stretchy dress with visible black bra and panties underneath may be salable club wear, but it is not something that people need to venture forth on a 9˚ winter morning to go see trotting down a runway. The musical performance was just preposterous. If ever the thought "Oh, God, please don't sing" runs through your head at a runway show, then you know you are at the wrong one. Again, we found ourselves wondering how this act got accepted to show at what is actually a desirable 11 AM time slot on what is supposed to be the stage for America's greatest fashion? The answer could only be that it was the best they could get. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week has long since lost its marquee designers, and now its name sponsor and its location, and it kind of looks like they have just given up until they can figure out what form it is going to take in the future. All we could imagine as Mark and Estel bellowed "We are Rock Stars!" into microphones on their runway was Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy  from "30 Rock" marching in and shouting, "Shut it down! Shut it down!" because it was just too awful to continue. On the plus side, the pair managed to pull together a decent gift bag including some nice Paul Mitchell products and a Mark And Estel commemorative  T-shirt. it reminded us of the pre-2008 days at Bryant park when we would end the day with armfuls of swag, but, of course it was only placed on the seats for the first two rows. No matter, the attendance was so poor that it was a cinch to score a seat with a bag. The other pleasant surprise was the free Yoplait yogurt being offered after the show which is the first free snack I have seen at the tents in years that was something I actually wanted to eat.
There are still plenty of respectable designers like Todd Snyder, Carolina Herrera, Anna Sui and Monique Lhuillier still on the MBFW schedule, and at their shows, things generally seem just the way they ought to be, but they are fewer and further between at Lincoln Center. Rather than scrambling to find a replacement site for next season, maybe it is time for the Fashion Week tent concept to take a few seasons off and really figure out a way to rebuild its prestige before it turns into a venue to avoid on principle for both designers and guests.

Have a look at some magic moments below

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Duckie Brown Makes Backstage The Backdrop

The guys at Duckie Brown switched up their familiar runway scheme yesterday for their Fall 2015 show.
This time, showgoers at Industria's big room found the wall that usually separates the runway from backstage gone and their seats arranged to watch the models dressing and being prepped for the show. It's not a totally unprecedented trope. Isaac Mizrahi famously created a similar arrangement for a show back in the 90s, but it always livens things up, and removes the sense of mystery about what is taking them so long to get ready for the show. Of course, it also means that the models are undressing in front of an audience, which is certainly unusual, but they must have figured that models take their clothes off in front of tons of people all the time anyway, and besides, with about seven ounces of body fat among the entire cast, what could they possibly feel self conscious about?
Anyway, the peek backstage seemed particularly appropriate for an intimate feeling collection that played with pajama shapes and the blush pink satins of women's lingerie. Somehow Duckie designers Daniel Silver and Steven Cox worked their usual magic and made it all feel faultlessly coherent and modern.
After the show ended, the models swiftly stripped off the collection and put their own clothes back on just like they always do —except in front of everybody.


In Which A Tall Hat Takes
A Tumble At Josie Natori

The Shophound has never actually been to a Josie Natori show, so we figured it would be a perfectly fine way to kick off the Fall shows with the Queen of Intimate Apparel. Of course, there were no bras and panties on the runway at the DiMenna Center on West 37th Street. Though Natori is an innerwear giant, which brought the major retail execs to her dutiful front row, this show was for the designer's own, much more exclusive ready-to-wear line, and if anything, it was extra covered up in layers of cozy scarves, coats and sweaters. Ms. Natori is a fashion veteran whose signature line is small and more personal, so she makes what she likes which turns out to be some lovely clothes for women who are after a certain sort of luxurious, well-tended look. Her inspiration was a trip to Istanbul which produced lots of rich embroideries and sweeping hems and tall Sufi sikke hats, one of which made a run for it before its model could make it backstage. Oh, the hazards of extreme accessorizing. It certainly wasn't enough to distract too much from what was an otherwise sumptuous if not groundbreaking show, and a pleasant way to ease into Fashion Week.
Have a look at some undisrupted looks below:

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Rag & Bone Beats The Fashion Week Crush With Lil Buck & Baryshnikov

Did you get a nice haul out of today's Rag & Bone sale?
Well, you should. There's plenty of good stuff from last Fall, and when you get home, you can preview the label's line for next Fall a week ahead of Fashion Week and in the comfort of your own home (or just watch the video above).

Rag & Bone designers David Neville and Marcus Wainwright have been chafing at the limitations of showing their men's collection on the runway for several seasons now, and like a growing number of New York menswear designers, they are leaving New York Fashion Week to their women's collection. "I look at shows online and it's kind of boring to be honest, to see this repetitive stream of models walking down a runway," Wainwright tells GQ, "We've done that before, we don't need to do that again. We need to evolve as a brand, and how we show needs to evolve." Rather than just offering an informal showing of their men's line out of the official schedule —which they did last night— they have also let the public in on the presentation, not just with a live-streamed runway shuffle, but with a mesmerizing video starring dancing wunderkind Lil Buck and and the most celebrated living ballet dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov. Since he officially retired from ballet some 20 years ago or so Baryshnikov has continued to explore all kinds of other dance, and at at an astonishing 67 years old, he's still at it. Putting Buck and Baryshnikov together is the kind of thing that thrills dance fans, and it makes for a clever and often funny video.

As for the collection, it carries lots of the familiar Rag & Bone hallmarks, but with a healthy dose of technical performance-wear inspiration and more directional plays on layering and volume. "I think this all feels very different for us, but still very Rag & Bone," Says Wainwright, "I think the idea of people being able to be active is very important." As Fashion Weeks continue to get bloated with runway shows, it's good to see designers finding alternatives that are a departure without feeling like a step down from the old fashioned catwalk.

Rag & Bone's Marcus Wainwright on Ninjas, Movement, and Tears (The GQ Eye)