Egalitarian fashion? Designers in New York have had enough of it. They're taking pains with their spring collections to celebrate a more demonstrative kind of fashion — the kind with a capital "F," if you will, perhaps hopeful that the time gap from first look to total market saturation will lengthen in the process.
"I'm so tired of everyone looking as if they've just come from the beach," says Marc Jacobs. "It's like wearing jodphurs when you don't ride — every girl dressing in a bare little top over a miniskirt. I think this is a moment for fashion, and fashion isn't what's in the street right now. I think fashion right now takes a little more work."
And according to some, perhaps a little more coverage. Michael Kors finds himself on a particular mission. "Let's get rid of the ho in fashion,' he says. "The Video Music Awards were the final burning of Rome."
Given all the attention of Jacobs' sober stunner last fall, and all of the ongoing minimalist musings, one might have anticipated a totally austere spring. But such has not been the case in the early going, as many designers feel loathe to leave behind all those girlish feminine frocks that have so dominated the warm weather style scape for so long. Yet the big guns acknowledge the need to move beyond such generic merch once and for all. At the same time, they note the difficulty in meshing the seemingly antithetical notions simple and special. Thus, some are using dichotomy to describe their collections. Vera Wang said she was inspired by "the severe formality and femininity of ‘Deadwood'" mixed with the "the whimsy and charm of Henri Matisse." Kors, too, cites the need for austerity, since he says a lot of women will hesitate to go all the way. "Women have too much charm in their lives to give it all up."
From the early going here, it's obvious that many of his colleagues agree, and have sought to deliver both elements. Oscar de la Renta did so with considerable ease, combining elements from his old Oscar de la Cha-Cha days with a hefty dose of restraint. Without question, fashion's most debonair practitioner still has an ample supply of frills left in him — not to mention embroideries, appliqués and other sorts of embellishment; for him, "special" clothes are not a trend, but something his customer has always wanted and deserves to find, season after season.
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"