Fashion Week

Fashion Week

Q. I saw a clip on the news about Fashion Week in New York and some camp theme or something. I remember you wrote interesting information last year about Fashion Week. Do you know about the latest one and was there anything that makes any sense for me to consider for updating my husband’s wardrobe?

A. Not really, nothing worth considering. Over the years that I have been attending NY Fashion Week, changes keep happening. It used to be very well organized, very exclusive, and strictly about the fashions. Time was when the people who attended were press, store buyers, and the designers’ best customers. No one could “buy a ticket.” Now that there is no central organization running it, the shows are scattered all over the city in many different venues and much of it has become a money-making endeavor. Tickets to some of the shows are being sold to anyone who is willing to spend a good bit to attend. Because the sponsoring groups are trying to sell out each of their events and since the fashion shows themselves are usually quite short, some of them are adding unrelated and totally unnecessary musical “performances” to pad their runway packages.

Unlike women’s styles which change constantly, men’s clothing does not change much; still, some men’s styles do change. New styles, or potential new styles, are shown along with many more women’s styles at specific times and specific places. One of these is at Fashion Week, held twice a year in New York. Fashions sometimes appear at other places as well. Last week I attended two major fashion events on the same day: one was the one you mentioned, the highly touted Costume Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Camp: Notes on Fashion”; the other was a series of runway shows that were part of NY Fashion Week/Spring/Summer 2020.

For a glimpse of the unique “Camp” show, which has now closed, go to the Met’s website: On the home page, go to Exhibitions, Past Exhibitions, then “Camp,” and Selected Images. The clothes were mostly women’s designs. Of all the truly extravagant and elaborate exotica displayed at the show (camp fantasies by some of the world’s most renowned designers and artists), perhaps my favorite was what they called “The Souper Dress,” a short dress with an all-over pattern of huge soup cans, based on the famous Campbell Soup Cans paintings by Andy Warhol.

I should point out that Fashion Week is often what one might call “a crap shoot,” you never know what you are going to see. Will the clothes be beautiful? Will they be exciting glimpses of the new directions that fashion is either going in, or might go? Or will they perhaps just be outrageous and ridiculous clothes that no sane person would or could wear anywhere? I saw quite a few of each.

For a variety of reasons, the looks on display are often wildly over-the-top. But they are often also examples of potential directions that new styles might be going toward. For decades men’s clothes were fuller (what was thought of as a “gentleman’s cut”). Then, a few years ago, one of the most avant-garde men’s clothing designers, Thom Browne, introduced a strange new look: too-tight suits, too-short pants, too body-hugging clothes that seemed only suitable for the downtown very hip wearer. Although well-dressed businessmen and traditional dressers did not adopt this slim style, the overall trim look most definitely affected the entire men’s clothing industry. Even the most conservative clothing stores were strongly influenced by these “shrunken” designs. So much so, in fact, that the silhouette of menswear changed noticeably: suit jackets are being cut about an inch shorter than they had been for years, trousers, too, are slightly shorter and a lot slimmer, suit waistlines are more clearly defined, and stores no longer stock coats longer than knee length. If your husband has anything that was cut fuller and that had large padded shoulders, they would definitely look out of date. He (you) should ensure that his old choices are either given away or altered by a skilled tailor so they look good on him today.

My regular readers know that in the past I have complained about the excessive amount of black clothes that appear on Fashion Week runways. This season, at some of the more way-out shows for both men and women, I found myself longing for a few chic black outfits. Instead, I saw a ridiculous amount of clashing bright neon colors mixed together most unattractively. I understand that designers, especially new ones, go to extremes in order to be noticed and to stand out from the crowd. Still, I kept thinking “Where could anyone wear these outlandish clothes and why would anyone want to? A few trends that appeared in many of the women’s shows included uneven and asymmetrical hemlines (very short in front and long in back), a lot of glitter and glitz, one-shouldered styles, a tremendous amount of sheer clothing (near naked, and not just in the swim wear), dangerous looking stiletto heels on shoes and boots, and some unexplained use of terrorist-type masks. I wondered whether all the clothes would actually be legal to wear.

Let me be clear, people look to Fashion Week to define new style directions on the horizon. I rather doubt that your husband would find any useful trends among the oddly clashing patterns and overly bright designs I saw, some of which did look almost handsome at the shows . . . albeit on 20-year old models. Many of the women’s clothing designers did present beautiful styles ranging from swimwear and casual daytime looks to elaborate gowns that seemed destined for some red carpet. Two designers whose spectacular gowns stood out and made the shows very much worth the trip were DA by Daniel Alexander, presented by Style X, and Randi Rahm, informally modeled at her Madison Avenue shop. Randi’s sophisticated and extravagant designs are always in a class by themselves. The trick is to get oneself invited to some event that is special enough to wear one of her great dresses!

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