James Scully, Francesco Risso, Fernando Garcia, Laura Kim, Clare Waight Keller, Raf Simons

While the focus may — or should — be on the fashions, every season brings its fair share of other distractions — from the front rows to the broader world — and the fall collections were no different. From the impact of President Trump to Nicki Minaj’s nipple, there was plenty to talk about between shows.

This story first appeared in the April 19, 2017 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Here, a roundup of conversation-makers.

By Joelle Diderich and Leigh Nordstrom

 

Donald Trump

He was in office just barely three weeks at the start of collections, but the newly minted President permeated the discussions — and the designs.

Prabal Gurung sent models down the runway in T-shirts printed with messages “The Future Is Female,” “We Will Not Be Silenced” and “I Am a Coretta,” to a front-row audience that included former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

“For me, love is the resistance,” Gurung said at his after party. “Fashion and politics can’t be mutually exclusive anymore. Fashion can’t be an escape only, it needs to be responsibility.”

Later in Milan, Angela Missoni closed out her show with a finale of pink pussy hats, mimicking the ones that dominated Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March.

Through it all, there was even a Trump in the front rows. The president’s youngest daughter, Tiffany, took in shows by Taoray Wang, Philipp Plein and Dennis Basso, with varying degrees of Secret Service protection. At Wang’s show, she disclosed that “a lot continues to change, but I’m ready for it.” — Leigh Nordstrom

Ashley Graham

It’s hard to imagine someone who had a better month during collections than Ashley Graham.

At the start of NYFW, her American Vogue cover was revealed, making her the first plus-size model to land the magazine’s cover. (She even claimed the photo was shot “on my bad side.”) By the end of the week she was walking for Michael Kors, directly in front of Bella Hadid.

While the shows carried on in Europe, Graham toasted the launch of her Lane Bryant campaign with Prabal Gurung, who in turn called on European brands such as Prada and Céline to start including curvy models in their shows.

“Being a curvy woman, this is a new thing,” Graham said at the launch party, reflecting on her week. “We aren’t invited to New York Fashion Week; we aren’t in New York Fashion Week.” — L.N.

James Scully

The debate about the treatment of models reached boiling point this season after U.S. casting director James Scully claimed in an Instagram post that models were being abused during castings for Paris Fashion Week.

Balenciaga fired casting directors Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes within hours of Scully writing that they left models waiting for hours in a dark stairwell. “Not only was this sadistic and cruel, it was dangerous and left more than a few of the girls I spoke with traumatized,” he said.

Boina subsequently commended Scully for “raising awareness of the issues of ethnic diversity and the humane treatment of runway models,” but accused him of intentionally misrepresenting the facts “for personal career gain.”

Model Indi Irvin later that week protested outside the Balenciaga show holding a sign that said: “Les modèles noirs importent” (“Black Models Matter” in English).

Scully’s post also accused several houses of trying to “sneak in” underage models and specifically charged Lanvin with having a mandate “that they do not want to be presented with women of color.” Lanvin spokeswoman Sophie Boilley said: “These allegations are completely false and baseless.”

The house’s show a few days later featured models of various ethnic backgrounds, but the debate is set to run. — Joelle Diderich

Clare Waight Keller

Clare Waight Keller became the first woman to take the creative helm of Givenchy, wrong-footing those who believed her recent move back to the U.K. indicated she was ready to turn her back on Paris. The British designer succeeded Riccardo Tisci and will show her first collection for the French house during Paris Fashion Week in October.

Boasting a strong background in knitwear and men’s wear — and a reputation for cutting a killer pair of pants — Waight Keller had been creative director at Chloé since 2011. This followed previous stints at Pringle of Scotland, Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.

Givenchy chief executive officer Philippe Fortunato said the Givenchy wardrobe would evolve after the Goth-tinged fashions plied by Tisci over a stellar 12-year tenure. “The fact of having for the first time a woman envisioning the brand, designing for women and men, is unique for the house. That, by itself, will give it a different angle and a different point of view from the past,” he noted.

In a statement, Waight Keller said founder Hubert de Givenchy’s “confident style has always been an inspiration.” — J.D.

Nicki Minaj

“Is her boob out?” was the question on fellow guests’ lips as Nicki Minaj took her seat in the dark venue for Haider Ackermann’s fall show. As the rapper tossed back her long black extensions, it became obvious to all that a gleaming pastie was the only thing standing between her left breast and the wider world.

“Why?” one might ask. “Why not?” Minaj’s attitude appeared to suggest. The singer, who attended shows including H&M, Balmain and Rick Owens, said she was looking to stir her imagination at the Paris shows.

“I’m definitely getting inspired,” the artist said. “This is a great way to get some visuals I could use in videos or in photo shoots.”

With Kim Kardashian absent this season, following her dramatic robbery in October, it was left to Minaj and Azealia Banks — who showed up at a Moncler event wearing barely there Daisy Dukes that were cut into a thong in the back — to titillate photographers.

It looks like the strategy paid off for Minaj, at least. The performer signed to Wilhelmina’s celebrity division the same month. — J.D.

Francesco Risso

Prada alum Francesco Risso has big shoes to fill. He was appointed creative director of Marni last year, succeeding the brand’s founder Consuelo Castiglioni, who exited in October. Risso’s first collections bowed for fall 2017, and while his men’s show in January received praise, the designer’s women’s collection tried to embrace Castiglioni’s eccentricity, to mixed reviews.

Risso studied at Florence’s Polimoda, New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and Central Saint Martins in London. His work experience started at Anna Molinari, and after stints at Alessandro Dell’Acqua and Malo, he joined Prada Group in 2008 to work on the brand’s women’s show collections and on special brand endorsement projects.

Marni is controlled by Renzo Rosso’s OTB group, parent to brands including Maison Margiela and Viktor & Rolf.

In January, ahead of Risso’s men’s show for Marni, the entrepreneur praised the designer’s understanding of the needs of today’s customer and market. “He is young and is bringing an added touch of freshness and modernity, while safekeeping Marni’s DNA. His skills range from expertise in virtual communication to design and photography.” — Luisa Zargani

Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia

About two years after Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia left Oscar de la Renta, where both had worked for years under de la Renta himself, to launch their own upstart Monse to early success, they were back at Oscar de la Renta as co-creative directors. The appointment came last September, with their first collection for the house scheduled for fall. In the interim, a lawsuit between Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera, where the duo had been freelancing, threatened to stall their debut. The suit was settled and the show went on in February under unique and ambitious circumstances: Oscar de la Renta had struck a partnership with Monse and Oscar de la Renta chief executive officer Alex Bolen decided to stage the shows back-to-back. Monse went first, and after the final exit, a glimmering curtain surrounding the Stefan Beckman set was supposed to pull back to signal the start of the de la Renta show. Except the curtain hit a snag — literally — and didn’t draw all the way. The set wasn’t the only risk. Showing the collections as a double-header set them up for unavoidable comparison, with higher critical marks coming for Monse over Oscar de la Renta. — Jessica Iredale

Raf Simons

Six months after Calvin Klein officially confirmed the open secret that was Raf Simons’ appointment as chief creative officer, his first collection finally came due in February. A few weeks earlier, Simons teased his vision for Calvin Klein, not to mention his plans for upending business as usual at the company, by launching a veritable American couture collection, Calvin Klein by Appointment, via Instagram. The 14-look lineup foreshadowed his real debut for the fall runway show, but it didn’t do it justice.

Simons didn’t falter under the extraordinary expectations that accompanied the star designer’s emigration from Dior, the holy grail of French couture houses, to Calvin Klein, an icon of American sportswear. His show delivered thoughtful, powerful and smart clothes anchored in Americana — Nineties street, Western and new Calvinisms, such as Brooke Shields’ vintage silhouette on the hangtag of jeans — filtered through a high-fashion point of view that felt new on American soil. It reinvigorated the house and revved up New York Fashion Week. — J.I.

Simon Porte Jacquemus

Taking the concept of the traveling salesman to new heights, Simon Porte Jacquemus took over a vacant floor of the Montparnasse Tower — with 360-degree views over Paris — for his showroom space. He presented his collection on minimalist furniture made by his father Vincent (think sculptural gray racks set in geometric concrete blocks). Dotted about the gallery-like space were ceramic pots filled with mimosa, and black fabric body sculptures that lent “a Matisse mood” mixed in with the shoes, bags and accessories.

For Jacquemus, building a mood around a collection doesn’t have to stop at the runway, with the showroom serving as a laboratory for merchandising ideas that capture the brand’s universe.

“I love taking buyers to a special location they’ve never been before, to excite them and give them ideas. I don’t want for them to be in an empty space with just the clothes. And I’m always at the showroom, one of my favorite things is to meet with the buyers, I like listening to how they sell, the projects they’re working on. And they love it. We’ve done windows for Opening Ceremony and Dover Street Market, and we’re preparing another one with Saks [Fifth Avenue],” said the designer who last season took over an old garage in Paris’ 11th arrondissement in which he re-created a “highly Instagrammable” lavender field for buyers to step into, nodding to his upbringing in Provence.

“I like for my showroom to be poetic, from the music — which is all Jacquemus, it’s not just a playlist that an intern selected — to the flowers and food. Coca-Cola is not allowed.” — Katya Foreman

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