New York designers’ indie spirit will be celebrated with an exhibition this spring at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Rather than focus on the big brands that have dominated Gotham’s fashion scene for the past decade or two, “New York Fashion Now” will spotlight 20 labels that bowed between 1999 and 2004. The roll call includes the work of designers Derek Lam, Proenza Schouler, Behnaz Sarafpour, Thom Browne, Cloak’s Alexandre Plokhov and Zac Posen, as well as those who have more quietly built their businesses, such as Costello Tagliapietra and Maggie Norris. There are also a few who are no longer around or have moved on. The much-heralded Miguel Adrover closed shop last year and Tess Giberson shut her signature operation to become head designer at Tse.

This story first appeared in the December 5, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The exhibition touches upon the plight of the young designer, but the real message is how this crop of relatively recent arrivals has reinvigorated New York’s design productivity, as well as the city beyond the Garment District. For example, several of the featured designers call downtown home: Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, Posen and Browne are rooted in TriBeCa; Lam and Plokhov work out of the Meatpacking District.

The show’s curator, Sonnet Stanfill, said, “These emerging fashion designers have revitalized fashion in New York and this display will demonstrate the talent and diversity of the New York fashion scene now.”

The show will feature five themes: Sportswear Chic, Atelier, Avant-Garde, Menswear and Celebrity. Sixty outfits adorned with accessories — increasingly essential to American women’s wardrobes — will be featured in “New York Fashion Now,” which bows April 17 and runs through Sept. 2. Interestingly, “New York Fashion Now” is sponsored by a footwear company, not an apparel one — Ecco Shoes.

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