New York Fashion Week Was More About Content Than Creativity

Ella Emhoff Makes Her Runway Debut at New York Fashion Week

What exactly to say for a Fashion Week that its hallmark is the surprise runway by a celebrity stepdaughter? No offense, Ella Emhoff’s runway appearance at Proenza Schouler bore all the characteristics of a fresh face donning power dressing, a la Gen Z; tailored pants, and a relaxed jacket. Interesting, but that was it all.

Perhaps the problem lies in the calendar or otherwise in the lack of a calendar, Back in  January, Tom Ford, the chair of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, released the American Collections Calendar as an effort to unite all American names under one roof, including those showing in Paris and London. Later on, IMG presented a schedule of its own that included  Jason Wu, Veronica Beard, Markarian, Tadashi Shoji, Badgley Mischka, Anna Sui, Victor Glemaud, and Rodarte, amongst others. Further adding to the ambiguity, many of them are also on the CFDA’s “American Collections” schedule. Not exactly handy for all of us trying to tune up with all the digital presentations, live-streamed shows, and talks.

Not surprisingly, big brands seem to acknowledge the problem, by completely opting out. Several large American brands such as Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, and Tory Burch have snubbed this season’s New York Fashion week and chose not to show. In the end, we had Proenza Schouler’s tailored knits (Ella Emhoff included), Gabriella Hearst’s monastic dresses, Rebecca Minkoff’s, relaxed florals streamed on Instagram, TikTok, and Only Fans (yes, the X-rated platform).

With many great names away, some might say this would be an opportunity for new designers to shine-in any calendar. Then again, how do find those new names where they don’t have a platform or have too many? One of them it was the Black In Fashion Council Showroom, created by The Cut‘s editor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner and fashion consultant Sandrine Charles of the newly launched Black in Fashion Council in June, Their virtual showroom presented work of emerging Black designers such as Marrisa Wilson, House of Aama, Chelsea Paris, and Michel Men, There was some true talent there if you knew how to look.

What’s left to say here is that the format is wrong for many smaller brands and designers that do great design and tailoring-but can’t get through the digital noise or simply don’t have the resources to bring their vision to digital life. They need support as much as editors need a clear calendar to look forward to. One that doesn’t just include anyone American showing anywhere. As far as I know, New York Fashion Week has always been about New York’s buzz and vibe, its cultural zeitgeist. A post -covid New York City will be a challenge for everyone, not only fashion designers. Tough, not less exciting, though. Let’s hope.

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