New York Fashion Week SS18: Only in the Dark Can you See the Stars

Collage by Modern Melange | Pictures retrieved from Dazed.com and VogueRunway.com

Long before Binx Walton glided down the Tom Ford catwalk in her shocking pink two-tone pointed stilettos, a dark ominous cloud hung low over New York City, casting a threatening shadow over the future of one of the greatest cities in the world. Uncertainty is thriving within tight-knit communities, unsure about their immigration status, their health care plan, their environment, their jobs, their security and this uncertainty is directly reflected upon other industries including fashion.

New York Fashion Week is struggling to hold on to its reputation of being a “fashion capital”. This year it has experienced an exodus of some of America’s most accomplished creative talent with Rodarte, Proenza Schouler, Altuzarra, and Thom Browne all choosing to present their upcoming collections across the pond, in Paris. With New York’s brightest lights now elsewhere, the darkness however provided the opportunity for younger emerging brands to shine. This season New York hosted a vibrant atmosphere which has been previously regarded as a British specialty: promoting an exciting, wide eyed, and raw next generation. Breakthrough shooting-stars of the season included Vaquera and Eckhaus Latta.

@vaquera.nyc filling the void at #nyfw 🎨 #modernmelangess18 #ss18 #vaquera

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Vaquera impressed with its thoughtful non-conforming ideals, while Eckhaus Latta offered its most accomplished collection yet, through a refined, causal display executed with precise tailoring and complimenting embellishment. Moreover, it promoted model diversity through different ethnicities, ages, and sizes including a very pregnant Maia Ruth Lee.  It was brilliant how emerging brands filled the #NYFW void with confidence, fresh ideas and most importantly a sense of hope.

A gumbo of American beauty with a toss of tension 🇺🇸 @calvinklein #nyfw #calvinklein #modernmelangess18 #ss18

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Hope is essential in an unsettling political climate, and this climate was represented in a multitude of ways. Firstly, collections offered a sense of protection where for example at Tory Burch and Calvin Klein, blankets were held instead of handbags and shoulder pads structured oversized blazers in case of any rough and tumble. Also, the overarching aesthetic of deconstruction and reconstruction, where designers mix and matched, crafted together torn scraps here and there, almost like “this is what we have, let’s make do and create something spectacular”. Tom Ford even went so far and splashed the tips of frayed stilettos himself to give a more real and authentic touch. The “imperfect” interpretation reflected the Breaking News headlines, and destruction we read about almost everyday, but underneath the surface there was a flair of optimism thanks to a forgiving colour palette – predominantly pastel. Sunshine yellow too played an important role this season bringing positivity to the concrete streets.

Optimism, also took form of bittersweet nostalgia where Raf Simmons for Calvin Klein, Stuart Vevers for Coach, and Johnathan Sauders for DVF – three non-American designers I might add- focused on traditional Americana. Raf Simmons was inspired by classic American codes of the 1950’s such as cheerleader uniforms, cowboy boots, and references to pop artist Andy Warhol. Simmons interested in risk taking additionally wove in a perverse element which he described as part American Dream/ American Horror, with partial inspiration from The Shining and the Twin Peaks revival. Agent Dale Cooper, Mr. C and Dougie Jones would all find something in this collection. On the other hand, Stuart Vevers for Coach went Way Out West, drenching the saddle with sparkle. Or Johnathan Sauders who has pushed DVF into a new era marrying glamorous Studio 54 codes with innovative fabrics.

And the overall feeling in New York? 

@marcjacobs outshines #NYFW – show of the season. #marcjacobs #ss18 #modernmelangess18

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A low-key existential crisis. The questions of “why are we here? What is this for? Does it all matter?” Were at the tips of everyone’s tongue. How can we march on debating hemlines when the possibility of a Nuclear winter is becoming an actual threat? Well, I think the best way to answer is what we saw at Marc Jacobs – the clear show of the season. In a context of overwhelming noise- in the news, on the subway, on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook, on the streets – Jacobs presented a demi-couture collection in total silence, only the subtle brushing of beads to be heard when the models gracefully walked on. He crafted a moment – of beauty, of inspiration, of awe without the bells and whistles which often drown out what is real. Without appreciating moments like these of truly stunning human accomplishment, nothing matters and we cannot let that happen.

In the dark there is light, and on the light we must focus on.