WOMENSWEAR DESIGNER OF THE YEAR AND ACCESSORY DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
This story first appeared in the May 27, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Alexander Wang might have rocked the proverbial boat by daring to show his fall collection in the borough; still, everyone showed up. That’s a testament to Wang’s status as one of the most exciting talents in New York, a sentiment heightened by his role as creative director of Balenciaga in Paris, and the recent news that the designer would be H&M’s next collaborator.
His past two collections further cemented Wang’s appeal. For spring, he riffed on branding and censorship—as in name logos, the Parental Advisory warning motif—with traditional men’s wear details, or, as he puts it, “utility and function, mixed with traditional sartorial men’s wear elements.
“When I approach the collections, I like to think about it in a less specific context and a connection to something that feels right ‘now,’ yet has a familiarity to it,” he explains. “I constantly strive to build and find a balance between the construction, the design and the approachability to garments.”
The designer’s accessories approach reflects this, too. Case in point: fall’s cool multipocket handbags and fanny packs.
“Similarly to apparel, I don’t have a ‘philosophy,’” Wang says, “but I try to find a sense of the everyday: accessories that complement an urban uniform, providing both function and ease.” — Marc Karimzadeh
WOMENSWEAR DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Joseph Altuzarra had a good year. In the first week of September, Kering took a minority investment, estimated at 40 percent, in his five-year-old label. Two days later, he showed a stunning spring collection, a highlight of the four-city season, inspired by the Japanese patchwork technique of Boro and Altuzarra’s now-signature French-American sophistication.
Just as compelling was his fall collection of artisanal craftsmanship and colorful plaid furs.
“We explored new ideas of ease and comfort, while continuing to develop our signature tailoring,” says Altuzarra, who won the 2011 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and 2012 Swarovski Award for Womenswear.
In between the two main seasons came the company’s first expansion enabled by Kering cash: pre-fall. Accessories—handbags and shoes—are next on the agenda. And if his past shoe collaborations with Gianvito Rossi are any indication, killer heels are on the horizon. — Jessica Iredale
“Let’s do what we love, and do a lot of it,” Marc Jacobs says, recalling his approach to spring 2014. His inspiration: the Leading Player of Pippin, who challenges the young royal’s life choices. “This is the way you want to live?” he questions. “No costumes?…No magic!”
Jacobs indeed did “a lot of it,” presenting a treatise on brooding Victoriana with a surfer subplot (the set was a stylized beach, post-catastrophic event) and piles of decorative excess, down to the elaborately wrought sneakers.
Five months later, for fall, Jacobs worked one of his signature dramatic reversals, stripping away the excess, the pilings, the dark froth.
“There’s always a reaction to the thing before,” he says, now embracing the “very light, very soft, very fresh.” He kept his colors cosmetic, his lines languid and decoration to a minimum via gentle hand-painting and filmy organza tiers. His models walked beneath an Armory sky of 400 pillow clouds—at first delightfully fluffy but increasingly ominous as the light changed—to Jessica Lange’s eerie recitation of the Depression-era anthem “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
As different as the collections were, both resonated unmistakably Jacobs, as they channeled the designer’s emotional approach and love of pure fashion into exquisite clothes. — Bridget Foley
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MENSWEAR DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Reigning CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Thom Browne continues to push men’s fashion forward. Since introducing his first ready-to-wear collection in 2003, the designer’s shrunken silhouettes and ankle-baring pants have had an unmistakable influence on men’s style.
In his fall Thom Browne New York line, the aesthetic ranged from tweed-clad British gents to sumo wrestlers complete with samurai pants and giant bombers. Spring’s military-themed line took its cues from a mix of historical uniforms spanning from Napoleon to the Red Army.
Browne is launching a collection for fall, called simply Thom Browne, that will be centered around the gray suit. The line of suits, shirts, coats and neckwear will be less extreme than his runway collection, with jackets a bit longer and lapels a tad wider. Trousers will be hemmed to the shoe with no break.
Although Browne bristles at the thought of calling this a commercial collection, he does acknowledge that the new line will “definitely reach more people.”
He’s also juggling Black Fleece for Brooks Brothers, Moncler Gamme Bleu, and even took on the project of designing a one-of-a-kind 2014 Infiniti Q50 car last fall, complete with his signature red, white and blue stripe emblazoned on the leather seats and a mirrorlike chrome exterior. —Jean E. Palmieri
DAO-YI CHOW AND MAXWELL OSBORNE FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL
Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne want to make it clear: Their brand is not streetwear.
“People incorrectly refer to us as streetwear, but the brand isn’t streetwear at all,” Chow says. “We take reference from New York as a street-based city, but we aren’t chasing trends or commenting on what’s going on in culture. Our DNA is in mixing high and low, mixing different worlds, referencing and creating fabric combinations, but making it with a versatility and practicality to it.”
Indeed, the brand is more aligned with high street, as shown in its fall collection, in which sumptuous wools were cut into oversize shapes—like the many exaggerated extra-large coats and capes—along with baggy trousers.
“Everyone wanted to be slim and proper with their silhouettes and we were like, why don’t we do a baggier pant,” Osborne says.
Riding off their CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund win last year, the momentum continues into their next collection. For spring 2015, the two plan to dabble with colors such as brighter blues, and will introduce a few geometric prints.
“Spring will be all about distortion,” Chow says.
Later this year, the two will trek forward with more collaborations and a possible foray in eyewear.
“In all that we do,” says Osborne, “we want to show the future of fashion and the new frontier.” — David Yi
MARCUS WAINWRIGHT AND DAVID NEVILLE FOR RAG & BONE
An avalanche of accolades has been pouring in for Marcus Wainwright and David Neville of Rag & Bone.
In 2006, the U.K.-born partners were finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award; the next year, they snagged the Swarovski Award for emerging talent in men’s wear. In 2010, the CFDA honored the duo as Menswear Designers of the Year, and last year, they won the Breakthrough Award at the ACE (Accessories Council of Excellence) Awards.
Since creating Rag & Bone in New York in 2002, they are known for combining their British heritage with a modern American sensibility. The result is a blend of classic tailoring with a downtown New York aesthetic. This past year, they channeled their U.K. roots by showing the spring collection in London, but returned to New York to present fall, although they shook things up by showing before the official kickoff of New York Fashion Week.
They presented their updated classics through a multimedia presentation created by London-based United Visual Artists, which is known for its installations in art and music. The “visual installation” for the fall 2014 show, for example, used photographs of the models on the street wearing the collection prior to the show and projected the images behind them as they walked the catwalk, proving that Wainwright and Neville continue to think outside the box. — J.E.P.
ACCESSORY DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
JACK MCCOLLOUGH AND LAZARO HERNANDEZ FOR PROENZA SCHOULER
Proenza Schouler’s Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough are veterans of the CFDA Awards, having won the Womenswear Designer of the Year award three times, most recently last year, as well as Accessories Designer of the Year in 2009, the Swarovski Perry Ellis Award in 2003 and the first CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2004.
The designers plied two very different aesthetics between spring and fall. For the former, sculptural wood heels and tasseled bags were used as a craftsy counterpoint to the clothes’ earthy minimalism, while the latter was all about “speed and energy,” as the designers described the collection of punchy color and attitude. All the models wore flats.
“Our spring accessories—everything from shoes to bags and jewelry—were all quite artisanal, and in some cases one-of-a-kind objects,” says Hernandez. “We wanted the accessories for fall to be more grounded in a reality. We only showed flat shoes on the runway, and we felt like it was time for a new bag. The PS1 and PS11 bags have become signatures for us, and this fall we introduced a new family of bags called the Elliot.” — Jessica Iredale
ASHLEY OLSEN AND MARY-KATE OLSEN FOR THE ROW
Studying the street style of Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, one finds a common thread—the great extras.
When the sisters step out, they almost always make a strong statement with sunglasses, boho bags and chic flats. More recently, The Row designers, who took home the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year award in 2012, also infused their sophisticated cool into the label’s accessories.
For spring, this manifested itself in two bag designs: the slouchy, supple leather Sling, and the cross-body Multi Pouch. That same season, the duo also introduced shoes, working with Bologna, Italy, cobbler Enzo Bonafè on a loafer and mule (these ladies indeed like their flats).
Fall, meanwhile, heralded the new Bucket Bag and Book Bag, the latter in the vein of a classic shoulder style with a hand-pleated construction. In terms of shoes, there were the Derby brogues. And, of course, there are sunglasses, produced in licensed partnership with Linda Farrow Eyewear.
The Row’s accessories effortlessly play into the luxe discretion that sets the brand’s overall tone. “We feel that in order for something to be luxurious, it should make a woman’s life easier,” Mary-Kate Olsen says. “We keep that in mind with our accessories in every way.”
Adds Ashley Olsen, “We design accessories with a function.” — Marc Karimzadeh
Rosie Assoulin has fine-tuned an aesthetic of distinct sophistication infused with men’s wear and ethnic touches—like eveningwear with sculptural ease, casually chic American sportswear, mannish touches and such feminine details as exaggerated sashes.
In just a few seasons, Wes Gordon has honed an unexpected approach to ladylike clothes, delivering elegance with a touch of subversion and catching the eye of some top retailers like Harrods, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.
SHANE GABIER AND CHRISTOPHER PETERS FOR CREATURES OF THE WIND
Three-time Swarovski nominees Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters of Creatures of the Wind, who are known for their eclectic whimsy, have evolved toward creative refinement and wearability without sacrificing the idiosyncrasy that has distinguished the line.
Without forgetting his activewear DNA, Tim Coppens embraced a more classic take on men’s wear for fall, and took on women’s wear, offering a small collection that homed in on athletic luxury with a dash of elegance and sophistication.
SHAYNE OLIVER FOR HOOD BY AIR
For his fall Hood by Air collection, Shayne Oliver introduced outerwear with grommeted suede and leather bombers with Whipstitched sweaters. For spring, the designer says he’s exploring comfortable clothes that mix different media with a graphic element.
For fall, Todd Snyder, known for his unique interpretation of American classics, blended technical fabrics like bonded nylons and waterproof cottons with wools in classic glen plaid and windowpane patterns, resulting in a refined sensibility.
Nominated for a Swarovski award for the third straight year, Irene Neuwirth has expanded into new territory: using colorful gemstones like sapphires, emeralds and rubies in her designs.
Jennifer Fisher’s fine jewelry of 14-karat and 18-karat yellow, rose and white gold, often with pavé, reflects an edgy-yet-sophisticated aesthetic. Signature styles include diamond lettering and pieces with a focus on customization.
Marc Alary’s pieces draw inspiration from the animal kingdom, incorporating shapes of wild animals like monkeys, zebras and elephants with 18-karat gold and colorful precious stones.