LATEST AND GREATEST: After discussing her new book “The International Best Dressed List: The Official Story” Thursday night in SoHo, Amy Fine Collins and her inquisitor Simon Doonan fielded a few questions from the audience. Asked to name the next great American designer, Doonan said, “I don’t think it works that way anymore. The fashion landscape is 50 billion times bigger than it ever was.…Now the fashion landscape is basically infinite. It’s more about that. There isn’t one person driving it. There isn’t a Calvin Klein or a Tom Ford. It doesn’t seem to work that way anymore. There are many, many voices.”
Collins agreed, “Yes, there’s a multiplicity. There is too much. Fashion is too crowded to name a single person right now,” she said. “Someone like Wes Gordon at Carolina Herrera is very much poised to take off in a bigger way, but within the confines of the larger label.”
Doonan made the point that fashion is now more about brands like Supreme, which “has the most cojones in terms of driving sales.” That said, he believes there will always be eccentric people, who are dedicated to the craft of fashion. “There are people who are still doing that. Zac Posen and Isabel Toledo — people who work with fabric and who think about it,” he said.
Collins offered, “Oh my God. Zac Posen just had his backer pull out and Isabel Toledo just died. That leaves us with no one.”
From Doonan’s point of view, “We’re going through a very brand-y period in fashion. Maybe there will be a shift where we get back to more crafty, how-did-you-make-that.…There are people like Narciso Rodriguez, who are actually steeped in the craft of fashion and the construction of fabrics. There isn’t that much interest in the craft of fashion right now but that will swing back, don’t you think?”
Collins seconded that notion, mentioning how fashion’s one predictability is that whatever is in or happening now, the pendulum is going to swing the other way.
Before she signed copies of her Rizzoli-published book at the RealReal’s Wooster Street store, Collins was asked about her connection to the company. In addition to being a friend of founder Julie Wainwright, Collins said she had been in the shop before. “This is the only shop with people in it.”
A steadfast Thom Browne devotee, Collins compared style to a form of portraiture in that “wardrobes are the paints on the palette and they are being mixed in many possible ways.…People often say, ‘Oh, you got those shoes to match your dress.’ I’m like, ‘No, I got these shoes 25 years ago and I got this dress yesterday.’ I can’t get rid of anything. You called me a hoarder the other day,” turning toward Doonan, who said, “Sorry. When I think of you, I think of fit. We used to say at Barneys, ‘Fit is the ultimate high.’”
Given that, Collins said it’s hard to understand such trends as renting clothing. “If something fits you well, hang onto it and wear it,” she said. Nor was she sold on the peer-to-peer rental model, in terms of fit. “Your own clothes have stories and narratives built into them. Even when you buy someone else’s secondhand clothes, you acquire someone else’s story and you add your own to it.”
Afterward, some guests caught up, consigned and in some cases shopped. Attendee Hervé Pierre mentioned a different kind of real story, having dressed Renée Zellweger for the National Board of Review Awards the night before. She picked up the best actress award wearing a black one-shouldered dress, and he sounded equally honored by her choice of his design.