The Wylde Edit: New York Fashion Week AW17
Calvin Klein’s AW17 show was the most highly anticipated show of New York Fashion Week, thanks to Belgian designer Raf Simons’ debut as Chief Creative Officer. Having resigned from Christian Dior in 2015, Simons welcomed rapturous applause from a crowd that included New York royalty Sarah Jessica Parker, Julianne Moore and Anna Wintour. Paying tribute to the United States with hues of red, white and blue, Simons invigorated Calvin Klein’s classically tailored suits and neutral blouses with brightly coloured pockets, transparent fabrics, and synthetic coats. The show was permeated by a sense of youthful individuality, a shift away from the homogenous looks Calvin Klein has become known for. With the help of casting director Ashley Brokaw, Simons rethought the entire aesthetic of the brand, down to the off-beat line-up of models, where there was not a celebrity or social media influencer in sight. As the models walked to David Bowie’s ‘This is not America’, Simons rejuvenated not just Calvin Klein, but also America itself, represented through the coming together of a plethora of varied individuals.
Marc Jacobs’ homage to early hip hop was perfectly executed. With a dash of Seventies sportif and a palette of warm neutrals, specked with wine, mustard, and flashes of metallics, Jacobs stayed true to his reputation for showmanship and managed to put on an unexaggerated yet theatrical show. By stripping the venue of lights, or even a musical note to signal its start, Jacobs removed any distractions from the clothes and models. He even imposed a no phones rule - no social media fluffery here. The show’s key accessory was the pumped-up, often knitted Stephen Jones’ hat, paired with anything from a red cashmere tracksuit, to chord jackets, short plaid coats, heavy gold chain jewellery, and both real and faux fur, which added a richness to the collection. With the focus on street-style, Jacobs’ models exited the venue at New York’s Armoury straight onto Park Avenue, and headed back out to the streets.
This was Proenza Schouler’s last show at New York Fashion Week, and the brand will soon take up residence at Paris’ Haute Couture week instead, a la Vêtements. Their AW17 show was the perfect farewell to the city, described by the Proenza Schouler boys as “our representation of New York”. Designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez invited their audience into an abandoned office space, where spectators were kept on their toes with a sometimes-tense and sometimes-jazzy soundtrack. They showcased their trademark exaggerated ruffled sleeves, with pleated maxi skirts, wrap around jewellery and boxy leather silhouettes, matched with dresses that were cut away at the hip. The clothes were at once streetwise and feminine, and the metallic leathers and graffitied latex harked back to the imagined futurism of the 60s, creating a disorientating combination of both old and new. The show spoke volumes of New York, a place that has so much going on, it is everything all at once.
Thom Browne found unlikely, obscure yet genius inspiration in penguins, creating one of NYFW’s most memorable shows. In keeping with his typically high-concept shows, Thom Browne’s AW17 collection took place on ice (specifically an imagined pond in a historical New England town), with models donning ice skates and wearing penguin prints, suits and bags that looked like stuffed animals. Towards the start of the show, the models were dressed mostly in grey, wearing double-breasted coats in herringbone, or patchwork Prince of Wales checks with fur-trimmed hems. As the white and grey argyle sweaters and puffer jackets peetered out, the audience welcomed an array of primary colours, in the form of a striped rainbow coat or a crocheted sweater jacket, playing with the youthfulness of the stuffed penguins and ice-skates. The show, which was akin to a surrealist theatre piece, stood as an argument that fashion is indeed an art form.
Looking to avoid navigating the season’s glaring colour clashes? Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s minimal collection was full of head-to-toe tonal looks and floor-sweeping coats, making getting dressed in the mornings an effortless, but no less chic, experience. This season’s collection felt more austere than those preceding it, with the over-sized knits and cashmere that the brand has become known for partly absent from the show. The only time the Olsens broke from the statuesque all-ivory or all-caramel uniforms, was to pair black trousers with oversized white shirts. The classic pieces, crafted using expensive, carefully mastered materials, created a seamless collection, but those paying the most attention would have noticed the words ‘hope’, ‘dignity’ and ‘freedom’ emblazoned on the shirt sleeves, a message from the Olsens to the world in light of the political situation in the US.