Last Year’s NYFW: A Refresher Course
For the uninitiated.
Do you remember where you were when Vogue World revived the bloated corpse of Fashion’s Night Out? Or when Lourdes Leon couldn’t get into the Marc Jacobs show, despite once being the face of the brand? That has been the spirit of the past two New York Fashion Weeks — an attempt at nostalgia puppetry; dressing for TikTok fame instead of a WWD shoutout; and letting A-lists become guest lists. Horrific.
What we know so far about Spring 2024 is a (POTENTIAL) breath of fresh air: Ralph Lauren is returning since 2019, Mirror Palais is showing, and the beloved Elena Velez is getting my favorite September 12th slot. I am softly predicting a placid season — the nights are ending early, and the parties are smaller — which may be what we all need after two seasons of relative entropy.
Whether you’re new to the NYFW petri dish or need a refresher, here’s everything you need to know about last year’s shows.
PETER DO WAS MIRACULOUS
The FIT alumnus — and 2020 LVMH Prize for Young Designers finalist — technically got started in 2018, but really came into his own during last year’s S/S season. Do has an abdominal approach to tailoring, borderline sensual, though not the eroticism of a Gaultier or a Galliano — Do is cerebral and finds a sexual-cum-sartorial power (no pun intended) in swagger. Think: double-breasted jackets hanging from a single button; oversized white button-downs glissading around the thighs; tone-on-tone suture stitches bleeding from the waistband. These are the office upstarts ambling to the coffee maker after having sex in a One Vanderbilt broom closet. That winking erudition is the cornerstone of the Do brand and one of the reasons (among many) he was chosen as Helmut Lang’s new Creative Director. He’ll be debuting with Lang this season, and I’m counting down the minutes until his show.
FASHION’S NIGHT OUT WAS REVIVED. OR WAS IT?
If you, like me, were a nine-year-old precocious fashion devotee in 2009, you only cared about two things: (1) Fashion’s Night Out and (2) how to match the right shade of jegging to your Uggs (mostly the latter). Fashion’s Night Out seemed like the height of glamour: Dannijo collar necklaces, silvery bubble hems, crackle nail polish, when people named Tinsley Mortimer existed, etc. Developed by Vogue during the thick of the recession, FNO was a smattering of 800 events across New York City — an outdoor bazaar and party circuit, buttressed by champagne problems and photo ops. Guests bounced from party to party, show to show, step-and-repeat to step-and-repeat, boosting the cred of Vogue, individual designers, and NYC tourism writ large. FNO was put to bed in 2013, due to hemorrhaged funds and smashed windows in Soho.
Last season, however, Vogue announced Vogue World, an outdoor runway show and street fair featuring looks from select NYFW designers (and fitted by Vogue-approved celebs and models). Vogue World seemed like a response to everything wrong with Fashion’s Night Out: tiered tickets came with different perks, security was drastically upped, and a portion of the proceeds went toward the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. Then, of course, a pleasant yet professional Vogue World x COACH afterparty at the Boom Boom Room. Soho remained spotless this time.
Vogue World will skip New York and go to straight to London this year (which may speak to the American market losing cachet to the Europeans). Sad we won’t get Mikhail Baryshnikov doing his best Isadora Duncan impression again.
SUSANNE BARTSCH SHOULD HAVE AN EGOT
The high priestess of NYC nightlife debuted the Bartschland Capsule Collection at Sony Hall — featuring catsuits decoupaged with flyers from her iconic parties, the only time a cape has ever looked good, and enough text to put Praying to shame. While her official calendar is mysteriously empty, I have a 99% good feeling that she will be flanking the halls of Spring Studios this year.
CHRISTIAN COWAN HAD FUN AT NYFW
I’ll bite: I did not enjoy Christian Cowan’s S/S 2023 collection. It was atonal and a little too gummy-tacky — lots of bubblegum yellow, obtrusive furs, and Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century cutouts — to truly be kitschy or camp. But he had fun! I like it when designers have fun! Even if my aesthetic sensibilities are betrayed, I will always respect an adventurous artist. The runway should be a playground, not a doctor’s office, and even Cowan’s steelier progenitors (like Alexander McQueen) knew that to be true. Cowan’s youthful insouciance may be the thing that makes or breaks his brand, and I’m curious to see what happens this season.
THE BLONDS WERE THERE
Going to a Blonds show is like avoiding a pre-flight panic attack: you need non-restrictive clothing, half a Klonopin, and a gentle theremin Spotify playlist on loop before you embark. Love them or hate them: the Blonds have always been good at aesthetic overload. The show ranged from Bob Mackie-inspired denim to Paulie Waulnuts-esque printed windbreakers, all soaked in gold filigree — with remorseless, military-precision synths and a pornified glaze clouding the whole event. The Blonds will be returning this season, if you’re brave enough.
NYC HAD NO MAYOR
Because Eric Adams was at a cocktail hour with Anna Wintour at the famously haunted Mayor’s Mansion! Aren’t there ribbons he should be cutting? MTA fares he should be lowering? Tabi Swipers he should be catching? To be fair, if I was the mayor of New York City (nightmare job) I would also be drinking appletinis in a Neoclassical parlor room, not answering emails, and pretending I knew things about fashion. On a tangential note, apparently Eric Adams also asserts the mansion is haunted but seems pretty cool with it, and I’d like to ask him about that. Has he caught a ghost yet? Did it enter the soul of partygoer Diane von Fürstenberg like in Space Jam? His job seems pretty lax, so clearly he has the time to answer my emails.
We’re basically in a recession, which means — much like 2009 — we want excess again. That includes the aforementioned Blonds show, but also Sergio Hudson, who debuted a funkified, Grace Jones-inspired power dressing collection; Rodarte, who took a clear note from fairytale king Christian Lacroix; and Area, who found opulence’s outré edges and pulled them into putty, as they always do.
As designers like Velez and Do rise, they bring a colophon with them: a uniquely American sense of traditionalism, humility, and do-it-yourself-ism, even when they’re being provocative. For instance, Velez takes heavy inspiration from her Rust Belt roots, mixing metals with repurposed sails and parachutes, and Do is economical in his approach to tailoring (Do on suits: “...when you find a good one, it becomes your safe space.”) The Europeans know austerity is timeless — but will the other American designers drop the gilded act and follow suit this season? Watch this space. 🌀
Savannah Eden Bradley is a 22-year-old writer, fashion editor, gallerina, Gnostic scholar, reformed it girl, and future beautiful ghost from the Carolina coast. She is the Editor-in-Chief of HALOSCOPE. You can stalk her everywhere online @savbrads.