Retailers came to New York Fashion Week sheepishly, knowing their budgets were down and expecting the mood to be somber. Many have slashed their open-to-buy by 20 percent or more after last season’s double-digit sales declines.
But most concluded the week in a reflective, positive mood, despite repeated days of depressing economic news that raised further concerns over whether consumers would even be shopping for clothes come fall, and hopeful about what they saw — spirited collections, a crop of new talent with promise that put the stamp of individuality on the clothes, and some sense of commercial reality.
That bad rap that designers can often be outrageously priced with impractical styles didn’t seem to apply for fall.
“New York designers are not out of touch,” contended Jeffrey Kalinsky, executive vice president and director of designer merchandising for Nordstrom Inc. “I was impressed overall with what they turned out.…These are tough times, no question about that, and that business is challenging. For me, it just means being a razor-sharp editor and finding the best New York has to offer.”
This season, Kalinsky said, designers showed “a lot of product that looks really good and prices that reflect the intrinsic value that the customer is going to be looking for. I haven’t seen all the prices everywhere, but a good designer knows what’s going on in the world and needs to use creativity to get consumers shopping and buyers buying.”
“Ultimately…there was great balance between inspired clothes and realistic clothes,” said Nicole Fischelis, vice president and fashion director at Macy’s Inc. “It’s a lot about fusion — the rough and refined, feminine and rock ’n’ roll, layering and unmatching, tailored with feminine, a bohemian attitude, taking plaids to a new level, winter floral mixes and lots of animal prints.”
“I arrived expecting a depressing atmosphere [but] the shows were very positive and optimistic. Everyone kept the same energy,” said Sarah Lerfel, buyer for Colette in Paris. “I keep adding new names. It’s important to support creativity. I don’t work with budgets and I’ll continue to work the same way.”
“Challenging times seem to bring out the best in Americans and many of us are actually energized despite the prevailing news,” said Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation for Bergdorf Goodman. “We’re inspired enough to build new tiers into our business. We found many of the designers delivered some of their most focused collections to date. We particularly applaud the younger guard for both their courage as well as their ability to combine value with desirable design.”
She said Bergdorf’s was keen on one of the season’s prevailing messages. “It’s the new strong woman — broad-shouldered, fierce, confident and looking like she can handle anything.”
“The new guard stepped it up by honing in on their own personal aesthetic and presenting collections that had a strong voice and were very focused. Jason Wu, Brian Reyes, Phi, Thakoon and Peter Som all exemplified this,” said Ann Watson, vice president and fashion director at Henri Bendel. “It is clear these designers have gotten to really know their customers better and are giving her what she loves.”
Though the consensus was the season rated an eight or eight-and-a-half on a scale of 10, a few saw too much darkness on the runways. “Is all black going to help the economy?” Marc Jacobs was quoted as saying.
Watson agreed there were too many dark clothes. “The customer needs and wants color now more than ever,” she said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast