It wasn’t just the return of Ralph Lauren to NYFW which got guests talking. Other standout moments included a Chanel diner, PETA protests and designers tackling the future of fashion.
New York Fashion Week – one of the ‘big four’ – may be drawing to a close, but it’s certainly been one of the most talked about fashion world events for quite some time.
Ending on 13 September after a 7-day run, NYFW will pass the mantle to London, Milan and, finally Paris, before the intense month of shows and presentations finishes for another season.
In the City that Never Sleeps, we’ve seen it all (well, almost) – from runway protests, to a nostalgic, French-infused diner to several nods to the future of fashion.
There’s a lot to get your head around, so Euronews Culture is here to bring you the highlights.
A taste of Paris in Williamsburg
Chanel kicked off NYFW with a less French, more American approach. And what’s more American than a 1950s-style diner?
In a whimsical, purpose built eatery in trendy Williamsburg, the French luxury house invited guests into the midst of a mid-20th century experience. From pastel decor to a ‘50s inspired soundtrack and burgers, milkshake and fries aplenty, Chanel used the venue to launch a new line of its Chance Eau Fraiche fragrances.
The Lucky Chance Diner played host to celebrities including Lil Nas X, Harley Viera Newton and Camille Rowe on the opening night before opening to the public for a three-day run. Tasty!
Protests at the New York Public Library
Coach proved that libraries are so much more than places people go to study or escape the world, while always keeping quiet.
Opening NYFW last Thursday, the American luxury brand made the unusual choice to take over the the New York Public Library, the second largest public library in the US, to present its spring/summer 2024 collection.
With a front row of celebrities like Lil Nas X (again!) and Jennifer Lopez, the show was soon interrupted by campaigners for the animal rights organisation Peta.
Two female protesters, one carrying a placard reading ‘Leather Kills’ and another wearing a flesh-painted bodysuit with the slogan daubed across it, made a huge splash on the catwalk before swiftly being led away by security.
Peta are well known for disrupting fashion weeks and it was perhaps no surprise that they chose to do so again. In July, they announced that they were aiming to make the use of wool and leather as unacceptable as fur has become.
It’s unlikely that their message will get through to many heads of fashion brands, considering that leather goods are frequently the biggest seller for luxury outlets.
The Coach collection, nonetheless, marked the 10th anniversary of Stuart Vevers, the label’s creative director, tenure at the helm.
Featuring grungy looks and Americana-inspired pieces, it was also the first show put on by Coach since its parent company, Tapestry group, announced last month that it was acquiring Capri Holdings in one of the most significant fashion mergers this year.
A new era for Helmut Lang
It was all change at the top at Helmut Lang, as Peter Do made his debut as the label’s creative director.
The Vietnam-born designer proved his fashion worth from the moment the show, inside a cavernous industrial space in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, began.
Featuring asymmetrical shirts, striped-pink jackets and vintage seat belts used as trims on garments, Do stood by his promise to make Helmut Lang the brand which dresses not just Manhattan, but the outer boroughs of New York too.
As well as taking inspiration from the brand’s archive as well as modern NYC street style, Do injected a little of his Vietnamese heritage into the well-received collection, too.
Written on clothing and the runway itself, Do had tasked the Vietnamese-American poet Ocean Vuong to write meaningful words to accompany the collection.
Phrases like “When was the last time you were you? When was the last time?” penned in Vietnamese ensured that the new creative director made his mark in his new role at Helmut Lang.
Ralph Lauren returns to New York (even if it was Brooklyn)
While most fashionistas prefer to stick to Manhattan during NYFW, Ralph Lauren was perhaps the one person guaranteed to get them to cross the Brooklyn Bridge.
Transforming a warehouse space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard into an artist’s loft, complete with chandeliers, wooden floorboards and gilded photo frames, the brand’s first show at NYFW for 4 years was a triumph.
With the bohemian backdrop, the all-American brand presented a collection featuring eclectic textures and colours, painterly floral prints and faded denim pieces.
It was a welcome return for Ralph Lauren at NYFW. Like many top brands, the label often shows at Paris or Milan fashion weeks instead, but many fashionistas said Lauren’s absence had left an unfilled hole in the New York fashion week calendar.
While much of the show featured laidback looks, the two closing dresses had everybody talking.
Worn by Natalia Vodianova, a leather macramé gown, featuring gold fringe and woven patterns featured the work of 15 expert embroiderers, who together spent more than 800 hours putting the dress together.
Following in Vodianova’s footsteps was iconic, original supermodel Christy Turlington, who donned a stunning gold lamé floor length gown.
Ralph Lauren, a New York native, turns 84 next month and fashionistas say this show proves he’s absolutely still got it.
Quiet luxury – New York style
Stealth wealth – or quiet luxury – is one trend which seemingly won’t go away.
Made famous by the likes of Sofia Richie, Gwyneth Paltrow and the cast of Succession’s on-screen wardrobes, it’s a style more associated with European brands like Loro Piana.
In New York, though, Khaite has become a favourite brand among the fashion elite in the city who enjoy presenting a subtle look.
Hailed by experts as one of the only brands in NYC to do minimalism correctly, the collection featured simple black dresses, flowing maxi dresses with lowkey belts and chic, voluminous blouses.
Held at the ever-impressive Park Avenue Armory, the audience clapped in appreciation as beams of light followed models down the runway as ‘Summer Overture’, made famous by its appearance on the ‘Requiem for a Dream’ soundtrack added to the ambience.
A(nother) look towards the future of fashion
The fashion industry has been feeling the pressure of the changing world around us more than most in recent years.
As well as the aforementioned battle against leather, new reports appear to pop up on an almost daily basis, saying the industry is continuing to cause untold damage to the environment and the future of the planet.
AI, 3D printing and social media launches are all common buzzwords in every design studio and there were three houses at NYFW who really focussed on the future of fashion, while keeping one foot placed in the present moment.
One of the most commented-on shows was Collina Strada.
Creative director Hillary Taymour knew she had to follow her iconic show last season, which featured a prosthetic animal kingdom walking down the catwalk, and she didn’t disappoint.
Equally unnerving, this season’s collection was entitled ‘Soft Is Hard’ and featured models, including Barbie star Hari Nef, smiling eerily from ear to ear.
Alongside designs inspired by Victoriana and heavily ruffled and tie dye pieces, the message was clear.
The smiles may have looked bizarre but behind them was a reflection of Taymour’s notes on the collection.
“As we grin and bear the excruciating present, in which the world burns and reproductive, trans, and general human rights are under threat, we summon the strength of radical softness”, she wrote, presenting her designs in a way that spoke to those of us concerned about the state of earth.
Famous for paying tribute to underrepresented communities, Collina Strada also made sure to champion marginalised and featured models far more diverse than most designers tend to use.
Proenza Schouler has been a top name in the industry for over 20 years, but it’s known for its innovative approach to the business and this year showed that to a greater extent than ever.
Headed up by Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, the label launched its collection ahead of the runway show on Instagram.
Whether it was an attempt to democratise fashion or a PR stunt is not clear, but it’s likely that countless other fashion houses will soon follow suit.
Also new at Proenza Schouler’s spring/summer show was the reveal of the brand’s first-ever monogram.
With subtle logos more popular than ever – see Loewe and Celine’s hugely desirable versions appearing, lowkey, in every fashionista’s wardrobe – it was the right time for McCollough and Hernandez to launch theirs.
Featuring two Ps that make an S, the brains behind the brand estimate that they had gone through 9,000 iterations of the monogram over 3 years before deciding on the logo.
Slow-moving decisions in a fast fashion world is also a trend that other labels are sure to hop on soon.
The concept of 3D printing in fashion is not new, but designer Grace Ling made a splash with her debut collection which acted as an introduction to her robo-chic mindset.
Using zero-waste 3D printing techniques to create metallic pieces which straddle the line of fashion and art, Ling’s ‘Wonderland’ collection was lauded as a hugely successful first show – and one we’ll likely be seeing on red carpets (perhaps more so when the strikes are over).
Despite having launched her eponymous label in 2020 after jobs at Thom Brown and The Row, she held off presenting her first runway show until now.
Grace Ling is a welcome addition to fashion week and her impact can only influence other designers to use similarly waste-free techniques at future events.