New York Fashion Week: Presented Virtually & Mostly Unprepared

The unprecedented brief three days of “shows” of NYFW clearly showed how unprepared the American designers were in dealing with how to adequately respond to the current crisis, at least in a creative manner because creativity is the only way forward regardless of the chosen and available platforms, live or they called it in the old days Memorex. 


There were undoubtedly many moments of sparks, but they were few and far between – the short films from Wolf Morais and Kenneth Nicholson were spectacular moments because the films were personal narratives about isolation and growing up where the clothes were merely supporting cast, not the main action. Of course, in these two films, all the protagonists wore a lot of the clothes – new for Wolk Morais and on sale now for Kenneth Nicolson, and they were superb and thoughtful because the clothes became part of the narrative and not separate from the story. You paid attention if you want to actually look at the clothes. 


Elsewhere most of the online videos shown are not engaging in terms of content and in terms of creativity. In an age where amplification is the last word in everything, it is inconceivable that given the time designers had, they did not put enough thoughts into how they should conceive what this season would be.

Nothing shown was even surprising, and none of the film or video that I saw from morning to night that I think would have caught me off guard. Most of the videos also felt disjointed, like a patchwork of moving images with no real connections and worse of all that the clothes have to relevant to the entire process.


Great fashion isn’t about predictability – it comes from the designer’s ability to surprise their audience with an attempt at something new and with a modicum of experimentation, and certainly with an imaginative narration that sows context into clothes. This is what is needed – and this is what was not delivered this season in New York.

   

It is what it is, one can say about the current situation. But the circumstance is not at all hopeless. In fact, it is a new road forward. 


We heard Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler say as much themselves. As a part of the IMG NYFW: BTS Series programming of The Talks in conversations with industry leaders at the Spring Street hub, Samira Nasr, the new editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar and the Proenza Schouler guys, Hernandez and McCollough, spoke frankly about the current times and about not having a show for the first time since they started in 2002.  


“For us, the work that we do is autobiographical. We always have something to say about the moment that we live in. Since the very beginning, every collection has been a reaction to something we’ve seen, something we’ve done, someone we’ve met, a trip we’ve taken,” said Hernandez.  “No matter where the world is or what’s happening, and the highs and lows, there’s always something to look at and be inspired by or to pull from, and we just sort of create out of the feeling of the moment. Every moment has a feeling no matter WHAT. There is also something to feel.”   


“We just sat down with our pencils and our paper, and wanted to focus on something that felt completely optimistic,” McCollough added. “We have a process after all this time. We employ for every collection research, building boards, walls, finding vintage, doing our archive looks with vintage, creating silhouettes – silhouette studies we call them. Then we go back to our studio in the woods and draw from all these stuff in the room,” Hernandez said. 


“This time we sat down for the first time with pieces of paper and pencils and we just drew for like ten straight days without nothing and it just kind of came out. Mood and feeling and what we want our clothes to look like. It’s just pure imagination,” Hernandez said of the designs for spring. 


“The city will become a very different place,” McCollough said.  Nasr said that she hoped new creative would be back to New York and build a sense of collaboration as there is no real road map forward which she also said about her upcoming new debut.


Obviously, it’s been horrible what’s been going on, but at the same time, sometimes it takes a forced change for things to evolve to a new place.

– Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler

“And now, fashion is so much more layered. There’s a social component to it. Your brand has to stand for something,” Hernandez said with regards to the values that brands must adopt in public now.  It is no longer a game of the right dress or the right bag.


The duo expects to do a show sometime later this fall, perhaps in the latter part of October.  


By: Long Nguyen, Fashion Critic/The Impression

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