From Gigi Hadid to emoji fashion New York fashion week is looking to the future

A new generation of designers are having their moment: this year was all about sexy skin and the Dancing Lady emoji dress

Diane Von Furstenberg bowed out of the limelight at her own brand this weekend, ceding centre stage to the newly hired designer Jonathan Saunders. Donna Karan was at the DKNY show, but sedately on the front row rather than strutting the catwalk, after her retirement last year. The great houses of Calvin Klein and Oscar de la Renta are both keeping a low profile, finding themselves between headline designers. Of the old guard, only Ralph Laurens name remains in lights this season.

Sad times? Far from it. Its the best thing thats happened to New York fashion week in ages. The New York catwalks had been living in the shadow of their very own Mount Rushmore. Ralph, Calvin, Donna, Diane, with their one-name-only presidential-style monikers, loomed over Seventh Avenue while the rank-and-file of designers tied themselves in knots overthinking the meaning of cashmere and racking their brains for 32 synonyms of grey to fill the programme notes.

Those who cover the international collections have long loved to moan that New York fashion week is sooo boring. This is mainly attention-seeking Wildean posturing, a staging of ennui for dramatic effect, but with a grain of truth. (There are only so many times you can engage with luxe-chic sportswear on the catwalk before you have to start stabbing your leg with a pencil to stay awake.)

Kanye West Yeezy Season 4, New York September 2016. Photograph: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Yeezy Season 4
this week was anything but boring. Kanye Wests hot mess of a Yeezy show set the tone, with a performance-art/catwalk event that managed to leave critics both bored (by the two-hour wait) and incensed (by the treatment of models, many of whom were clearly distressed by the length of time in scorching heat). Two days later, Tommy Hilfiger took the concept of democratised, consumer-facing fashion and ran with it, sending his models to parade through a pop-up funfair with a ferris wheel, a temporary tattoo parlour and the new collection for sale on stalls. The garish aesthetic of a funfair a poppy sugar rush with zero aspirations to chic was as defiant of the traditional mores of fashion week as Yeezy, in its own way. The Opening Ceremony labels fashion-week moment was a Pageant of the People, a catwalk-meets-consciousness-raising hybrid event where models in the new collection shared the stage with Rashida Jones talking about refugees and Whoopi Goldberg riffing on the presidential election. Makes a change from luxe trackpants, anyway.

See Now Buy Now is still only patchily adopted as a business model, but it is hugely influential as a philosophy. It is the spirit forcing the fashion industry to address change. Ralph Lauren, who is 76, told Vogue this week that showing clothes, then delivering them six months later its over. Our girl lives on the internet, commented Laura Kim of buzzy new label Monse. At their DKNY show, the designers talked about New Yorks fabled style, and how people talk a lot about our past, but we like to think about whats next. For the first time in ages, the chat about New York fashion is in the future tense.

Four trends from New York


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J Crew SS17, New York fashion week, September 2016. Photograph: J Crew

Emoji fashion

Its all about Instagram is this decades fashion cliche. Thing is, its still true. At New York, the Insta-influence is in the emoji-style prints, and in the rise of the Dancing Lady emoji as the ultimate party girl silhouette. Altuzarra, designed by 33-year-old Joseph Altuzarra, was an out-of-the-box hit, with more lemons and cherries than a millennial WhatsApp group and a gorgeously sultry silhouette. J Crews long, ruffled skirts in fine blue cotton gave a chic, toned-down take on the scarlet Dancing Lady.


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Monse show SS17, New York fashion week, September 2016. Photograph: Banica/WWD/Rex/Shutterstock

Loose clothes and skin

AKA, the new sexy. The old paradigm was that one either wore small, tight clothes which showed shape and skin (sexy) or loose, oversized clothes which showed neither (not sexy) but the New Sexy plots a whole new axis. The modern way to look hot: slices of skin, between casually draped fabric. At Victoria Beckham, bra tops were worn under duster coats, while at Monse, shirts were unbuttoned and shrugged back off the shoulder.



figcaption class=”caption” caption–img caption caption–img” itemprop=”description”> Tom Ford cocktail party, SS17, New York fashion week, September 2016. Photograph: Neil Rasmus/BFA/Rex/Shutterstock

The Gigi look

Anna Wintour better look out. Her position as the most powerful woman in American fashion is arguably challenged by the reach of supermodel Gigi Hadid. Hadid has twice as many Instagram followers as there are people living in New York City. Tommy Hilfiger capitalised on this with a capsule collection designed in collaboration with her. Tom Ford put her on his catwalk, and the influence of her style which is sort of half cheerleader, half club kid could be seen everywhere in the lampshading, the over-the-knee boots, the oversized sportswear.

The AOxAW ad campaign for the Alexander Wang and Adidas Originals Debut Collaboration. Photograph: Juergen Teller


Yup, as a trend. Seems like even the publicity juggernaut that is Kanye West isnt big enough to contain the fashion ambitions of Adidas right now. Just three days after the Yeezy show, Alexander Wangs show ended with a surprise mini-collection designed in collaboration with Adidas, in which the brands logo was turned upside down. Whats more, those three-stripe Firebird trousers have become as much a showgoer uniform as Helmut Langs flat-fronted trousers once were.

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