Designers Get Political at New York Fashion Week
Catch the top highlights of New York Fashion Week
What visitors got was a high-profile debut and a political message at Calvin Klein, some psychedelic designs (and more politics) from Jeremy Scott, a focus on femininity from Jason Wu, and not one but two collections by Kate Spade.
Calvin Klein: A Message on the Runway
The message could not have been clearer or more pointed: Raf Simons' debut collection for Calvin Klein opened and closed with the David Bowie song This is Not America.
"When you have a voice, you should use it," Simons said backstage just last week at his own label's menswear show. And now, for his much-awaited bow Friday morning with new employer Calvin Klein – for which he has moved to New York – the Belgian designer was using his.
The soundtrack wasn't the only means Simons used to put across his message. A day earlier, Calvin Klein had sent guests patterned bandanas, with a note saying: "Unity, inclusion, hope and acceptance: Join us at Calvin Klein in wearing the white bandanna. #tiedtogether."
There were nods to the American West for both women and men, with denim jackets over loose jeans, or colourful cowboy-style shirts. There was sporty America, in striped tube-sock sleeves – similar to the arm-warmers shown by his men's label. There were crisp business-like suits in black and white, and coats in colourful quilt patterns.
For some flash, there were a number of garments – dresses, coats, skirts – encased in a layer of plastic, looking like cellophane wrapping on a gift. In one dress, the plastic shielded a burst of feathers in white, yellow and black. A golden yellow furry coat also had this laminated effect. Another common embellishment was a silver metallic flower, appearing on black leather jackets or sheer mesh tops that left little to the imagination.
Jeremy Scott Riffs on Iconography and Politics
There were Jesus portraits on velvet. Sequinned Cleopatra-style headdresses. A white feathered tiara several feet high. A babydoll nightie saying "Love Stinks." A tearful Marilyn Monroe face. Sparkling gold go-go boots. A guy in a kilt AND ripped jeans. Another guy draped in a stole that looked like a toy fox.
Yes, it was Jeremy Scott, awakening the tired, cold Fashion Week masses Friday evening with his psychedelic designs.
"I was thinking about how Elvis and Marilyn and Michael Jackson and Jesus are all kind of worshipped on the same altar," Scott said. "And that's kind of how we've gotten ourselves into a situation of having an entertainer for president... And then of course, at the same time (I was) trying to make fun clothes that I love and that I think my friends and fans will love."
He said was going for an effect of "'60s boudoirs mixed with streetwear elements like hoodies and T-shirts and sweatshirts... collaged in a way like they've been sawed in half and smashed into one."
Scott also felt inspired, he said, to take a political stand with his designs. "How can there not be a political statement today? ...You know I think everyone needs to kind of speak out. Everyone needs to do their due diligence as a citizen to make their voice heard because that's the only thing that will protect us."
To underscore that point, he wore a shirt saying, "Our voices are the only thing that will protect us" – with what he said were phone numbers of members of the Congress on the back. He urged others to make their political views known to their representatives, and not to feel "too cool for school" to do that.
"Yes, I can still make fun clothes and have a good time, and there's no wrong in that," he said. "But you still need to have a moment to really do your due diligence as a citizen now more than ever."
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