New York Fashion Week 2015 recap: A week of first and lasts
Despite icy temperatures, the big names turned up the heat at New York Fashion Week, writes Jennie Matthew
Hot on the heels of haute couture shows in Paris, the fashion glitterati flocked to New York this month to admire the best and brightest in US design, where young talent rubbed shoulders with fashion icons Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.
But it wasn't just the jet set who tripped through New York's snow on stilettos - fashion is big business in New York, where twice-yearly fashion weeks generate nearly US$900 million for America's biggest city.
These shows kicked off the 2015 autumn-winter season, before the juggernaut shifts to London, Milan and back to Paris. This was the last time the Lincoln Centre will host the New York event after a state judge ruled it disrupts an adjacent park. For now, organisers are keeping quiet on where the new home will be come September.
Fashion house Oscar de la Renta showed its first collection by British-born Peter Copping, appointed creative director shortly before the Dominican-born master designer died in October.
Fresh from his [almost] onstage protest against Beyoncé not winning album of the year at the Grammys, rap star Kanye West made his New York fashion debut with a collection for Adidas. West, his wife, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, and their toddler daughter North West were also guests of honour at Alexander Wang's heavy metal meets gothic grunge show.
Models with oily, tousled hair and nude lips, who included baby North's aunt, Kendall Jenner, powered down the runway in black, black and yet more black in a show that won rave reviews and thundering applause. Even fashion queen Anna Wintour, Vogue's editor-in-chief, clapped excitedly as the boyish Wang ran down the catwalk at the end.
The signature look of his 2015 autumn-winter collection was the silver stud, which hemmed jackets, coats and dresses, ran in vertical stripes, embellished bags and made a quilt-style effect.
His models wore enormous studded chokers, studded V-necks and sported watch-style chains hanging from zipped pockets, and silver zips ran up and down the throat. There were cropped leather biker jackets, and sharply tailored trousers, military-style oversized jackets with silver buttons and a dressing gown-style coat edged at the collar, hem and on the sash with studs.
Velvet and leather was paired with wool to add texture, and shoulders were cut out to expose bare skin - a key trend on the catwalk this season.
The only splash of colour came in the form of a red tartan parka coat and an oversized waistcoat. For evening, the Wang woman of 2015 wore see-through silver chain mail dresses finished off with wide leather belts and worn under enormous jackets with oversized black fur collars.
Meanwhile, Canadian-Taiwanese designer Jason Wu sent supermodel Karlie Kloss down the runway at his show that encapsulated strength and seduction.
Elegant tailored suits, jackets, coats and trousers were contrasted with body-clinging sheath dresses with cut-out backs and thigh-revealing splits, and luxurious fur showcased seduction.
"I think with this collection there's something animalistic and very, very sexy," Wu said backstage after the show in a SoHo loft.
"When you think about those silk dresses with the slits and also the lingerie-esque lace dresses and the fur at the end, that felt sexy and modern and seductive," Wu added.
His autumn-winter 2015 collection is sleek and minimalist. Feminine, chiffon blouses were paired with sharp trousers. Slinky evening dresses in delicate beading shimmered in white and navy.
Fur was a prominent feature, worn in stoles, as extravagant trim on a jacket or fashioned into belted gilets. Wu kept the palette simple with olive, navy, the most delicate of pale blue-greys, black, white and splashes of coral.
Wu, who shot to fame for dressing US first lady Michelle Obama, said French screen siren Catherine Deneuve was his inspiration this season.
Wu was the only designer in New York to showcase two collections for separate houses: his eponymous brand and his collection for German luxury house Hugo Boss, which debuted a week later.
He said he has different rules for each brand, but sees his own label as his "personal journey".
"When I design for Boss I think it's really much more about seeing the Boss DNA through my eyes. So it's two very different sets of rules."
Elsewhere, Victoria Beckham unveiled her collection inside Cipriani's in downtown Manhattan. Mint teas on silver trays greeted guests escaping the minus-9 degrees Celsius temperature outside. The collection was more of a return to sexy-Victoria-Beckham-who-knows-about-fashion. Beckham reiterated that it was so important for her clothes to be flattering so that they could go "straight from the catwalk on to one of my ladies".
It was a collection which eschewed any strict theme and focused instead on texture and a reworking of the dress. She has developed such a reputation for precision and rigour that last season it seemed as if she had backed herself into a minimal corner with a collection that riffed on uniforms and landed a little flat.
But this season, Beckham's collection, which played with twists, volume and asymmetry, was much less uptight and all the better for it. One standout look was a chunky navy polo necked jumper with balloon sleeves worn with a midi-length jumbo cord skirt featuring a coat belt slung down over the hip. It was equal parts swagger and luxury, which is no mean feat.
The creations were also a little sexier than of late. Not in an obvious way - but she began with a dress and twisted and draped and deconstructed and reworked it until, as she explained, "a more body conscious silhouette emerged".
Knitted dresses had side splits above the waist to reveal toned side-flanks, skimmed slinkily over the hips and were split to above the knee. But crucially for fashion kudos, they ended with a luxurious hefty swish of cashmere and a pair of stompy high heeled calf boots.
While there were some derivative points in the collection, on the whole it felt authentic and modern - less uptight and on trend, but cooler, more liberated with a luxurious swish.
Meanwhile, Diane von Furstenberg says it's a mere coincidence her runway show took place on opening weekend of 50 Shades of Grey, but there was nothing coincidental about the "seduction" theme that came through on the catwalk. It was all about lace, skin, satin and the colour red - which, paired with black, gave it the sensibility she wanted for this season.
The looks for daytime were updated takes on DVF's timeless wrap dress as well as tweed and pinstripe - both in soft, feminine iterations. Moving to night, out came the more daring looks involving lace, satin, plunging necklines (and backs) and that red-black combo. At show's end, Von Furstenberg took not a victory bow but a victory lap.
Additional reporting by Associated Press, The Guardian