For one night only, Tommy Hilfiger and Zendaya brought fashion show time to the Apollo.
The famed Harlem marquee read “TommyNow Starring Tommy x Zendaya.” Guests walked in through the lobby past a “One Night Only” T-shirt stand, and the theater’s Wall of Fame featuring legendary performers such as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight. Then it was back outside to a runway set made to look like a block party, complete with front stoops and vintage cars filled with trumpet players, string quartets and other musicians, and a Cadillac convertible with a “THZAPOLLO” vanity plate pulling up to signal the start of the show.
“I have never been able to go and see anything at the Apollo, but it’s a cultural, historical place in the black community — everybody has graced that stage, and there’s history in the walls,” said the multihyphenate actress/singer Zendaya during a preview of the see-now-buy-now fall 2019 collection, which is in stores now. “I’ve always wanted to do something there, I didn’t know it would be a Tommy Hilfiger fashion show…at least for my first show at the Apollo!” she laughed.
The designer, on the other hand, who started in 1968 with a store called The People’s Place selling bell-bottom jeans, incense and records, was in his element. “I have been to the Apollo. I saw Bruce Springsteen there, and James Brown and went to a party,” he said.
On Sunday, he threw one of his own (albeit one that was less starry and decadent than some of his previous TommyNow efforts), and live-streamed it in real time so the world could rock out at home to the models strutting to “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “Harlem Shuffle” and “Rock Steady.”
If the first season of the Zendaya collaboration, presented in Paris for spring 2019 with the help of the star’s longtime stylist Law Roach, was inspired by Seventies disco, this collection was about Seventies funk, with sharp suiting and flared pants in mixed houndstooth checks, flannel polka dots or plush burgundy velvet, worn by models with serious moves — Alton Mason, Anna Cleveland and Ashley Graham among them.
Adding feminine panache for night or day were halter jersey jumpsuits; leather midi-skirts worn with pearl-buttoned striped Lurex sweaters and tall boots; animal-patterned or zodiac-print chiffon dresses or tie-neck blouses, and substantial capes and statement coats, all of which looked plenty chic for the prices, which come in under $400.
Said Zendaya of her concept of fashion for all, “I want everyone to feel seen and represented and heard.”