NEW YORK — They came, they saw, they wrote … little.
One of the main goals of centralizing the New York fashion shows in Bryant Park — to focus an international spotlight on New York designers — appears to have fallen short again this season.
So far, the New York shows have caused barely a ripple in the Milan, Paris, London and Japanese press.
No French daily paper has even mentioned the existence of the New York collections — either before or during the current season. The British press has been more generous — but barbed — with its coverage. Only one Italian newspaper is filing stories about the collections and, as of Thursday, only two stories have appeared.
The coverage from Japan has been slim, too. One daily trade newspaper has filed several New York collection stories and one TV network is planning a fashion show on New York designers next month.
The French fashion journalists who were in New York covering the shows were Frederique Mory, editor of Madame Figaro, and Elisabeth Bernigaud, fashion editor of France’s Marie Claire. But Janie Samet of Le Figaro, the doyenne of Paris fashion editors, simply bypassed the shows this season. Le Monde and Liberation didn’t send anyone either.
“The problem is that practically all these designers don’t sell their fashion in Paris, so what is the point of writing about them?” Samet said.
Mory of Paris’s Madame Figaro disagrees: “Interest here has risen because Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and others are selling their perfumes in Europe. So even if they sell very little fashion here, their importance has increased.”
New York didn’t even get a mention on Paris Premiere, the Paris-based cable TV station that broadcasts the fashion magazine show Paris Mode once a week and every night during the French ready-to-wear seasons.
“Now, if someone decided to send us some tapes of the New York collections, we might be able to put something on the air,” said a spokesman for the program.
In England, only the London Evening Standard and the Daily Express reported on the shows and, for the most part, their stories were brief. Some publications that sent reporters, such as the Independent, the Sunday Telegraph and the London Times, will save their coverage for weekly fashion pages. Other magazines expected to offer coverage of New York in future issues include British Vogue, The Tatler and the British edition of Marie Claire.
The first British paper to run a review was the Evening Standard, which reported last Friday on Julia Roberts’s attendance at the Todd Oldham show.
Lowri Turner, its fashion editor, followed up this week with reviews of Anna Sui, whose collection she praised for softening even a hard-edged Linda Evangelista, and Ralph Lauren, who, she said, “staked his claim on the royal wardrobe by reviving memories of the young Lady Di’s Sloane Ranger style.”
But Turner’s overall take on New York fashion, spelled out in a column on Tuesday, was negative. She criticized it — and Americans in general — for being asexual, too uptight and without humor.
From the pan-European perspective, the International Herald Tribune’s fashion editor, Suzy Menkes, was equally biting.
Menkes criticized many of the shows for being “exercises in styling in which contemporary clothing — good, mad or indifferent — is given a spin with current accessories, makeup and hairstyles.”
The result, she said, is a look that is greeted with “hysterical hype by the very people in whose magazines the clothes will next appear.”
Menkes praised the collections of Marc Jacobs, Bill Blass, Zoran, CK Calvin Klein, Sylvia Heisel and Lola Faturoti. She wasn’t so keen on Oscar de la Renta or Ghost, though, which she criticized for trying too hard to fill the big runway.
That was the theme Menkes took up in her Wednesday coverage, which turned decidedly nastier. Quoting Sofia Coppola as saying she’d like to have her own fashion show one day, Menkes added, “The good news for Coppola junior is that it seems that anyone can stage a show in New York’s fashion week. The bad news is that most do not deserve to.”
In Thursday’s Tribune, Menkes praised Isaac Mizrahi’s collection — “It gave modern energy to familiar American sportswear” — but took jabs at Ralph Lauren’s “Scottish baronial theme,” describing the collection as “an Armorgeddon of leather breastplates and chain-mail evening sweaters….Maybe it is time for him to halt his global tour and stay home,” she wrote.
The most positive coverage came from Ann Chubb in the Daily Express, who praised Sui as “one of the world’s brightest designers”; called Maria Snyder the style queen of the beautiful people, and praised New York for the return of glamour and the dumping of the waif. Chubb also praised Mizrahi.
On Thursday, The Independent devoted a full page to the fashion show organized by Donovan Leitch for the X-girl line.
For the Italians, New York show coverage is essentially limited to one newspaper.
Laura Dubini, fashion writer for Il Corriere della Sera, one of Italy’s leading newspapers, is the only journalist who kept the ink flowing, with more caustic remarks than fashion news.
In a story on Monday, Dubini played the good Italian patriot, leading off with a positive story about Prada, which showed on Saturday.
“Besides the versatility of her modern fashion, Miuccia Prada has also given a valid testimony of style and quality and of the force of a real fashion project, typically Italian. Values that, besides some exceptions, are still unknown to American designers,” she wrote.
“The absurdity,” she writes “is that there are 59 shows, 17 more than last November, and that they take place over eight days, leaving free Saturday so as not to ruin the weekend in Long Island! To think, that in Milan the shows are contained in four days: we should make them longer, [or] they should shorten them. To compensate, [U.S. designers] pay top models less: $750 per hour against $2,000 requested in Milan.”
She closed by stating that there is no major fashion news in New York. “The short skirt trend continues and there’s a great promotion of fake fur, of which Oldham has been one of the most ironic interpreters. And even Oscar de la Renta will soon convince his wealthy clients to alternate their real furs to fake, leopard-printed ones.”
In Thursday’s edition of Corriere, Dubini reviewed lines such as Anna Sui, Isaac Mizrahi, DKNY, Norma Kamali and CK — with photos.
La Stampa, a Turin-based newspaper, didn’t send a reporter to cover the shows, but did carry an article Thursday about how top models can parlay their talents into other mediums.
In Japan, the Shenken Shimbun, the nation’s daily newspaper of textile, apparel and retail business, ran several stories on the New York collections, featuring a wide variety of designers. However, there were no photographs.
“We will run a story on April 15, and for the April 25th issue, we’ll prepare a full page feature story on the New York collections with a lot of photos,” said a fashion editor of the newspaper.
The reason Japanese newspapers don’t cover the New York collections is that the Tokyo collections are held at the same time.