Fashion Week dispatches: New York brings the heat with Fendi and Marni
NYFW returned with a bang this season, by way of big-name shows – and even bigger moments at our Houses
Wednesday 14 September 2022 Words by Billie Bhatia
It’s been a while since New York Fashion Week felt truly exciting. American heritage brands Ralph, Tommy, Michael Kors et al naturally do Upper East Side collar-popping better than most, but beyond striped rugby shirts and oversized poplin, pre-pandemic NYFW was falling a little flat. This season, however, was a scorcher (and not just by way of the sky-high humidity), with a special Fendi show, Marni’s relocation to the Big Apple and home-grown talents LaQuan Smith, Eckhaus Latta and AREA taking up deserved schedule space.
Friday saw Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez celebrate 20 years of Proenza Schouler. The designers have been the city’s fashion golden boys since the brand’s inception, claiming collaborations with Birkenstock, a sell-out It bag (if you had a PS1 slung on the crook of your arm around the West Village in 2008, congrats you were truly living) and international mispronunciation of their name.
A lazy bottle of Lady A and chopped salad at Soho House New York had me running full force to make the show. Kendall, Bella and Shalom Harlow strutted down the catwalk as if they had just stepped out of a shower and into low-scoop dresses in knitted boucle and exaggeratedly flared trousers, complete with wet-look faces and water-sprinkled clavicles. I turned up looking equally sodden, thanks to 88% humidity and a rosé flush, but was grateful to be witnessing a stellar collection feeling very much en vogue.
Baguettes were the talk of the town on Friday evening as Kim Jones and Marc Jacobs celebrated 25 years of Fendi’s iconic bag. While the who’s who of the fashion industry snuck in a quick pre-show martini at The Bowery Hotel, screaming fans eagerly awaited the star-studded event. Kim Kardashian, Kate Moss (who proudly looked on as daughter Lila opened the show) and Grace Jones had a front-row view of various baguette iterations swinging up and down the runway – micro, macro and even Tiffany & Co, modelled by Bella Hadid – but in keeping with a classic, this night belonged to two matriarchs of fashion: Sarah Jessica Parker (naturally with a purple baguette in tow) and Linda Evangelista, who made her first catwalk appearance after 15 years.
The mood over the weekend was party, and the uniform of choice was puffy Loewe sunglasses (of which there seemed to be more in Manhattan than yellow cabs), miniskirts and knee-high boots. On the catwalks it was unapologetically about body – the messaging: it is a woman’s right to claim theirs. Club connoisseur Dion Lee served looks so low-rise I had to lower my own sunglasses for fear of indecency, while Tibi did sheer and Eckhaus Latta’s forever muse Paloma Elsesser brought hip-high slashes.
As the sun went down, all eyes turned to Marni. The Italian brand once known for oversized floral motifs and primary brights has enjoyed a gradual rebrand over the past few years, thanks to creative director Francesco Risso. Indeed, where the label once dressed Upper East Side ladies of leisure, it is now dressing the coolest kids on the fashion-week circuit in Marni’s chaos-core creations. In a Dumbo location, the collection embodied the warmth of an Italian sunset but with a new audience in mind. That meant burnt cycling shorts, low-slung acid yellow jeans, and more crop tops than I could count. According to the brand’s swathes of fans with obscure Instagram handles (I am of the dry but easy to stalk @fullname generation), Marni is the moment. So is Dumbo House – where I grabbed a Picante post-show, obvs.
Givenchy’s rooftop party in Downtown popped, and post-event revival came in the form of another visit to Dumbo House for a feast (praise be for a buffet) where @yardgyal’s life-affirming DJ set served as a serotonin booster. All was on course for a slow and steady Sunday, but what would fashion week be without some drama?
Katie Holme’s new nose piercing aside, the headline act was Tommy Hilfiger’s return to his home turf. Tommy always promises to be big – big names, big surprise act, big front row, big collection of urban preppy clothes. What wasn’t predicted was the big sheets of rain that splashed down at the outdoor Tommy Hilfiger show in Brooklyn.
The street style was giving off Alton Towers’ log-flume vibes, as guests battled through seas of plastic ponchos to take their seats on drenched bleachers. Despite watching the show through the distortion of a rain-speckled umbrella (I’ll get over it soon), Tommy’s crew of America’s finest – Precious Lee, Luka Sabbat, Winnie Harlow, Julia Fox, Lauren Hutton (who received the loudest cheer) and Alton Mason – showcased stars, stripes, and a soon-to-be sell-out collab with London’s Richard Quinn to a soundtrack provided by a shirtless Travis Barker on the drums. I told you, drama.
If the success of a fashion week hinges on the mega roll-call of names who brands wrangle to be part of their shows and clothes so enticing you’re mentally skipping the next six months to buy them, then Vogue World was the cherry on the extraordinarily successful cake. Mounted to celebrate 130 years of the magazine, it was the runway to end all runways (your feeds have undoubtedly been flooded with shots of Serena Williams, Nicola and Brooklyn Peltz-Beckham and Soho House cover star Karen Elson strutting the runway), after which Coach closed out their Gen Z-focused show with Lil Nas X.
There’s a contagious energy about New York right now. It has a toe-tapping, shoulder-shrugging, upbeat tempo to it that makes you want to dress up (FYI an exposed torso is essential for SS23), go out and seldom come home. Walking into London, where the atmosphere is shrouded in solemnity for obvious reasons, LFW will be a stark contrast. But I wouldn’t rule the capital out just yet; even when the big names have had to bow out of action – it’s London’s underdog spirit that often sees it thrive.