Those were the days: New York Fashion Week recalls classic Americana and easier times

From workwear and power suits to asymmetric dresses, designers such as Calvin Klein, Jason Wu, Alexander Wang, Public School and Tommy Hilfiger delivered an ode to America, and Taoray Wang had a special guest – Tiffany Trump

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 February, 2017, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2017, 5:59pm

A quick scan of the names of New York’s most coveted catwalks shows how diverse the American market is. Indeed, the fashion industry as a whole is globalised and full of immigrant talent, whichever country you’re in. In light of US President Donald Trump’s contentious travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries, it’s no surprise this was a focus throughout fashion week in cosmopolitan New York. Designers recalled a more positive and romantic America and celebrated the colours and ethnicities that signify American fashion.

One of the hottest tickets was for Raf Simon’s debut as creative head of Calvin Klein. In an outsider’s ode to America, Simon tapped a freewheeling American aesthetic with workwear, power-suit tailoring and denims. Material contrasts such as knits, feathers, leather and silk and a loud, colourful palette brought a sense of youthful positivity to the catwalk.

Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow of Public School (who has just stepped back from helming DKNY) made no qualms about diving head first into classic American styles: denims, sporty styles, quilts, mega puffa jackets, plaid and printed pictures of basketball legend Michael Jordan. The fashion set were tickled by the Trump-esque, “Make America Great Again” red campaign caps featuring the slogan “Make America New York”.

Tommy Hilfiger took over Venice Beach in Los Angeles instead of showing in New York and models showed oversized sweatshirts, patchwork denims, colourful colour contrasts in typical, bold Hilfiger hues, silky bombers and 1970s sheer pastel bohemian dresses. This was in its own way a celebration of more positive, innocent and quintessential American times. Another Gigi Hadid collaboration hit the catwalk, and both she and her model sister were there along with Joan Smalls.

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Rag & Bone, co-founded by Briton Marcus Wainwright, opted for an exhibition instead of a catwalk show, enlisting photographers Glen Luchford and Frank Lebon to shoot around 70 “friends of the brand” in their latest autumn-winter collection.

“I’m actually not sure if I’ll do another catwalk again,” said Wainwright after the exhibition. “Never say never, but it just might not make sense for us any more.”

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For autumn-winter collections, there were plenty of bright colours – designers in New York figuring that moods need to be lifted. Sies Marjan creative director Sander Lak again impressed with his vibrant colours, easy silhouettes and European sensibility. Jewel tones, handkerchief hems and easy, breezy volumes made for a playful, sophisticated third collection. Thakoon similarly used vibrant colours and playfully layered khaki with girlish floral prints.

Jason Wu mastered a skilful sensuality in his line. Asymmetric dresses came with twisted fabrics and clever draping, many exposing or accentuating the shoulder. Velvet dresses in iridescent mustard were a standout.

Alexander Wang’s show was a hard-edged extravaganza melding Goth with punk, casual streetwear and plaid suiting. Shapes were young but the fabrications were often more luxurious and sophisticated, in particular tweeds, plaids and slinky longer evening dresses in lace and chains sewn along hemlines.

Shanghai-based designer Taoray Wang made headlines several weeks ago when long-time fan Tiffany Trump wore her brand to the presidential inauguration – a pristine white double-breasted custom white coat.

This time Tiffany sat front row as Wang showed her strength with sophisticated suiting, angular cuts and skirts cut on the bias. Leather belts were cinched in a flurry of big lapel coats, trenches and jackets.

“I’m always targeting global female leaders,” said Wang backstage, “especially those who are fond of suiting.”