Whether understated or with a dash of flash, the New York runways offered plenty of options for spring that kept things easy and chic.
Tommy Hilfiger: A spit-and-polish window display for potential bidders, maybe. A clear statement of his company's direction — definitely. After 20 years and major digressions through rock, rap and the U. S. Attorney's office, Tommy Hilfiger went resolutely back to his roots: squeaky clean prep with just a soupçon of cool. It's a message Hilfiger sent loud and clear on Friday night with every one of his hundred looks, all presented on fresh-faced girls and boys who walked the runway in dressed-down khaki, madras and gingham — Bermudas pulled down just so over the bands of colorful boxers.
Hilfiger found himself in a peculiar position this season, with a yen to celebrate a big anniversary but with his company still in the throes of challenging times. Yet celebrate he did, even if his front row was far from the boldface fest many had expected. (Sightings included TV stars Katherine Heigl of "Grey's Anatomy," Josh Duhamel of "Las Vegas" and Sophia Bush of "One Tree Hill.") He opened with a video montage, its snippets including baby Tommy, a map of Elmira, N.Y., the Murjani years, advertising and a host of celebrities with strong or scant ties to Hilfiger — Jagger, Iman, Diddy, Kate Hudson, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears. Then came the prep parade, radiating the same wide-eyed wonder as the video. It was all dressed-down beachiness, its nautical motifs worked in a pleasant mix of low-key tailoring and play clothes, although one did wonder if all those bare feet made a statement about ease, or just that Hilfiger couldn't decide on a shoe.
At times the quest for casual turned corny, and it certainly went on too long. There should be a reason for hiring 100 models other than that a designer can afford to; Hilfiger could have made his point with half the cast. But there's a lot to be said for his happy, wholesome, unironic approach — not to mention a runway populated by pretty girls wearing pretty smiles.
Project Alabama: Whoever thought that city mice and country mice don't mix well would sing a different tune if they sat through Natalie Chanin's first runway show. In fact, the down-hominess of Chanin's hand-quilted pieces played quite nicely with the polished look of tailored jackets, full skirts and belted coats — many of which sparkled lightly courtesy of just a touch of beading. Backstage, Chanin chalked up the progress to her participation in the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. "It made us think about who we are," said the Alabama native. "And we are really a company that is made in America." Following that vein, Chanin chose Marilyn Monroe, an American icon, as her source of inspiration. Still, the designer didn't belabor the reference, which showed its face subtly in the nipped-waist silhouettes and the messy, but glamorous, updos. Instead, she showed a look very much her own with motifs of sunburst florals, twinkling stars and a diamond pattern. You've heard of clothes that take you from day to evening. Well, Chanin has given us a look that takes you from Fifth Avenue to Florence, Ala., and back, looking just right all the way.
Steve Aoki held a presentation, a runway show and outdoor concert for his men's line Dim Mak. Here's a look from his spring 2018 collection, which was titled "Paradise Found." #wwdfashion #wwdmens (📷: George Chinsee)
"It's really hard sometimes. I think I have a reputation for being really tough and aggressive and pushy but I really am a very shy person who wants to be liked, and that's the conflict constantly. There's something that takes hold - I want people to like me, I don't want to be mean - but if I see something that just cries out to be answered, I go for it," says renowned NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell. (📷: @axeldupeux)