New York Fashion Week put the industry’s contrasts into stark relief.
Even as his empire is regrouping, Ralph Lauren’s parade of models amid part of his impressive car collection in a garage in Bedford, N.Y., displayed how the “haves” put on a fashion show. Retailers loved seeing how the other half lives. “Ralph Lauren showed how to treat the industry,” said Ken Downing, Neiman Marcus’ fashion director and senior vice president, lamenting the logistics of fashion week. “Who are all of these people? I’m not against social media, but I don’t think the doors should be flung open wide so the whole world is at every presentation. It’s become a public convention. At times it feels like Comicon.”
With Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Thom Browne and Altuzarra decamping for Paris, “It was definitely a week of highs and lows with the move of four important brands leaving a void in advanced designer,” said Linda Fargo, senior vice president of the fashion office and the director of women’s fashion and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman. “You felt the lack of their presence and lack of energy at NYFW,” Downing added. “It was disheartening. As big brands dissipate from New York, there are too many shows and too many mediocre shows.”
Several retailers pointed out that when business is challenged, the rule of thumb is: maintain the status quo and keep it pretty. Designers provided some relief with optimistic colors, including bright yellow, hot pink, purple and fresh green. “With these saturated palettes, especially in our dystopian moment, designers are daring us to live colorfully,” said Cleo Davis-Urman, contemporary director of the Saks fashion office.
“I felt during the entire New York Fashion Week that people didn’t want to address the challenges we’re experiencing,” Downing said. “People didn’t want to really acknowledge that NYFW is in peril. It has to do with the climate of retail in general.”
Here, a roundup of what retailers liked:
Jeffrey Kalinsky, designer fashion director of Nordstrom
Favorite collections: Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein and Brandon Maxwell.
Talent scouting: We’re excited about Sandy Liang.
Trend spotting: The trend that is sure to drive sales is the explosive color we saw in New York.
Open-to-buy: In general, our budgets are up a bit as we continue to see good business in designer.
New York really, really comes alive during fashion week. It’s incredibly good for the city and feels like a good shot of vitamin B12. For one week twice a year, we truly feel like the fashion epicenter.
Leah Kim, executive vice president, general merchandising manager women’s at Barneys New York
Favorite collections: Narciso Rodriguez, The Row, Brock Collection, Sies Marjan, R13 and Calvin Klein
Talent scouting: Beckett and Piotrek from Area, whom we launched for spring 2017.
Trend spotting: Americana trends
Must-have item: cowboy boots
Open-to-buy: It’s flat for now, but could change when we finish in Paris.
See-now-buy-now prognosis: It’s definitely petering out.
Cleo Davis-Urman, contemporary director, Saks
Favorite collections: Calvin Klein‘s novelty — a nylon dress and dresses emblazoned with graphic Warhol scenes; Marc Jacobs’ psychedelic fantasy, and Monse’s boundary-pushing, optimistic modern interpretations of the uniform.
Talent scouting: Sandy Liang’s pretty dresses and separates that pack a punch with a naughty-but-nice edge, such as cropped leather jackets paired with ladylike lace dresses.
Trend spotting: Fringe is the new feathers; rainbow bright colors, from shocking pink at Brandon Maxwell to sunny yellows at Marc Jacobs and Tanya Taylor.
Must-have items: Performance wear-inspired nylon cocktail dress from Calvin Klein or Public School’s translucent parachute skirt; romantic floral dress, and glittery accessory.
Mario Grauso, president, Holt Renfrew
Favorite collections: Calvin Klein and The Row. It’s so exciting to see Raf [Simons] breathe new life into at Calvin Klein. I worked at Calvin in the early Nineties before Calvin’s exit, when it was leading American fashion, and it’s amazing to see the magic back. The Row deliver the best in minimalism with the surprise of color.
Trend spotting: Denim, particularly printed-on denim at Calvin Klein and Oscar de la Renta. It brings the runway to a younger crowd and adds youth to a more classic wardrobe.
Linda Fargo, senior vice president of the fashion office and the director of women’s fashion and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman
Favorite designers: Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia for Oscar de la Renta and Monse, and Naeem Khan’s beauty and lavish craftsmanship. With four advanced contemporary labels showing in Paris rather than New York, contemporary brands provided some of the high points such as Diane von Furstenberg, Zimmermann, Tanya Taylor and Coach.
Talent scouting: Tre by Natalie Ratabisi
Trend spotting: Happy colors, dark denim dressing, oversize florals and relaxed silhouettes.
See-now-buy-now verdict: It needs to be consumer facing, otherwise we’re talking to ourselves.
Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director at Net-a-porter
Favorite collections: Raf Simons’ imagination at Calvin Klein; Gabriela Hearst’s tailoring; Zimmermann; Ulla Johnson; Brock Collection, and The Row.
Trend spotting: soft pastel colors; fuller skirt shapes, and pretty floral prints in unexpected colors.
Must-haves: A bright pink or yellow tailored jacket; red suit; Tabitha Simmons’ rainbow silk sandals, and Rosie Assoulin’s straw bags.
Say bye-bye to: the cold shoulder
Open-to-buy: We’re buying up. Our business is strong, so we continue to grow our successful brands as well as pick up new talent where we find it. We’re going after the “It” bag in a major way.
Showmanship: Sara Bareilles at Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera’s insanely beautiful MoMA setting and Tory Burch at Cooper Hewitt.
Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus
Favorite collections: Calvin Klein’s Raf Simons’ Americana with star prints; red, white and blue motifs, and cowboy boots that look cool, not cliched; Rihanna’s Fenty for Puma; Brock, and Brandon Maxwell. Alice & Olivia which was wildly crowded and was simply charming. I loved her whole take on the Chelsea Hotel
Trend spotting: Eighties references; oversize boyfriend blazers; yellow and pink, always a crowd pleaser, especially with my girls.
Say bye-bye: Lace. I’m just laced out, and I’m so done with the cold shoulder.
See-now-buy-now debate: There’s too much early exposure of fashion. When clothes are highlighted in season, the customer responds.
Nicole Fischelis, Macy’s Inc. group vice president and fashion director
Favorite collections: Marc Jacobs’ collectible clothes that were almost couture-quality; Michael Kors’ tailoring, plethora of new handbags and the surprise of singer Sara Bareilles’ performance; Anna Sui’s free-spirited Haight Ashbury girl, and Coach’s celebration of America and shearling jacket over Twenties slipdress.
Talent scouting: Haus Alkire’s new minimalism, which is totally wearable but still individualistic.
Must-have: something embellished such as a sweatshirt or piece of outerwear.
Heather Shimokawa, vice president and fashion director of rtw at Bloomingdale’s
Favorite collections: Oscar de la Renta, Adam Lippes and Veronica Beard
Top trends: simplicity, effortless casual beauty; bold prints; romantic dresses. “It feels right for the times that fashion celebrates feminine beauty and a bit more whimsy.”
Must-have item: It’s the season of the dress.
Venue: Lela Rose’s picnic in Washington Square and Opening Ceremony’s Changers performance both demonstrated how a physical space or presentation can enhance the narrative of a collection.
Coco Chan, head of women’s wear, Stylebop.com
Favorite collections: Brock Collection’s doily dresses with prairie florals; Victoria Beckham’s smart separates; Calvin Klein’s Raf Simons’ midcentury silhouettes; color at Fenty.
Top trends: American Pastoral, formerly known as Park Avenue polish, with a dash of subversive. “Think David Lynch: outwardly wholesome but with a hint of darkness”; suiting at Alexander Wang and Victoria Beckham.
Kelly Golden, owner of Neapolitan Collection in Winnetka, Ill.
Favorite collections: Gabriela Hearst, Adam Lippes, The Row and Carolina Herrera
Trending: lots of color, the return of the suit and soft femininity.
Must-have: The Row’s halter jumpsuit with rope bow. “Modern perfection.”
Say bye-bye to: Sneakers with everything.
Open-to-buy: Spring is our quietest season, so flat.
See-now-buy-now is: Petering out.
Best venues: The Carlyle and MoMA gardens.
Elizabeth Leventhal, general merchandise manager of Moda Operandi
Favorite collections: Sies Marjan, Carolina Herrera, Delpozo and Rosie Assoulin
Talent scouting: Australian-American designer Matthew Adams Dolan
Trending: yellow, corseting and volume.
Must-have: Victoria Beckham suit; Rosie Assoulin yellow cutout dress, and Carolina Herrera polka-dot ensemble.
Say bye-bye to: off-the-shoulder looks
Best venue: Lela Rose, near Washington Square Park, had a hotdog stand and florist.
Shira Suveyke, chief merchant, The Outnet.com
Favorite collections: Tibi’s updated suiting with a nod to sportswear; Calvin Klein and Raf Simons’ Fifties silhouettes, and Tom Ford’s masculine take on women’s wear.
Talent scouting: Sies Marjan’s eye for fabric and color, and Brock Collection, which is feminine but forward.
Trend spotting: candy colors, transparent fabrics, suiting up for spring, check patterns at Tibi, Victoria Beckham and Rosie Assoulin.
Must-have: A sporty anorak from Calvin Klein or Marc Jacobs.
Beth Buccini, owner of Kirna Zabet
Favorite collection: Monse
Talent scouting: There was not nearly enough new talent, but Rebecca de Ravenel’s ready-to-wear looks amazing.
Trend spotting: yellow, sequins, and suiting.
Say bye bye to: sequins for day.
Must-have: spring florals.
See-now, buy-now is: definitely petering out. It’s confusing and we don’t have the manufacturing capabilities to make it viable just yet.
Logistics: There were fewer shows, and that’s a good thing. We much prefer presentations with flexible schedules. We loved the hotel rooftop presentations for Cinq à Sept and Matteo Jewelry, as well as Miaou, which was on a boat!