New York Fashion Week Struts Off The Runway


Tom Ford, American fashion designer and film maker has made efforts to rejuvanate New York Fashion Week. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Nora Hayes, Contributing Writer

Every year, New York Fashion Week (NYFW) welcomes flocks of models to strut down the streets of SoHo and sport this season’s latest couture. A deluge of flashing lights and cacophony of media personnel follow Gigi Hadid, Kendell Jenner and Irina Shayk dressed in Lauren, Longchamp and Maxwell. These scenes are familiar to fashion junkies. However, an aura of change is in the air this year. Designers are leaning into the cultural zietgiest and making bold moves with their spring 2020 collections.

Many houses are embracing the political culture by highlighting sustainability, democratizing their runway shows by moving them to streaming platforms or abandoning the concept of the runway altogether.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America has a new man on the throne: Tom Ford. Ford wants to modernize Fashion Week, and he wants it done now. He slashed the length of the week to a mere five and a half days, leaving designers to schedule their shows back-to-back. Fall under Ford is fast, frantic, fun and futuristic. This fast paced nature of NYFW is precisely what makes New York different from other fashion capitals such as Paris and Milan. Ford understands that New York will always remain a beacon for innovation, and maintaining this status demands drive and focus from those in the industry. If designers can’t keep up, New York will leave them in the dust.

Sustainability seems to be the most popular buzzword of NYFW Fall 2019. The recent rejection of so-called “fast fashion” brands has fueled this newfound interest in environmentally conscious clothing. On Saturday, auto manufacturer Hyundai joined forces with New York-based designer Maria Cornejo.

The purpose of the unlikely pairing was to produce a collection of pieces made from repurposed leather from Hyundai vehicles. Television star and fashion fanatic Sarah Jessica Parker, along with Disney actress turned social media star Rowan Blanchard, were among the celebrities attending the show. Off the runway, trendy, sustainable brands like Reformation are gaining traction on social media.

Veteran Victoria’s Secret Angel, Elsa Hosk, recently did a shoot with Reformation, propelling the label’s popularity among other stars such as Jessica Alba and Lilly Collins.

One of the most anticipated shows of the year is Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty, a lingerie line founded by the singer, business mogul last year, streaming on Amazon Prime Sept. 20.

The show follows the recent launch of Fenty, Rihanna’s luxury clothing line. The industry seems to be moving away from the trope of inaccessible, high-class, white runway shows and more toward a populist approach to couture.

The rise of social media and influencer culture has certainly contributed to this wave of change. Brands are utilizing Instagram to advertise their products as opposed to leaving their customers to wait for the next runway show to view new collections. The passing of Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel creative director and gatekeeper of the old school fashion world. This February, brought this shift more into focus.

But is the runway even cool anymore? Many designers are accepting the notion that the runway show is a thing of the past. Although annual favorites such as Alexander Wang and Ralph Lauren are still sticking to tradition, smaller labels like Rodarte are taking a different approach. The sister duo behind the design put out an editorial-style photoshoot to showcase the latest collection of gowns.

The aesthetics of the shoot transport the viewer to an imaginary, ethereal dreamland reminiscent of the gardens at Versailles or the Impressionism section at the Met.

The design concept was augmented by the star-studded cast which included Yalitza Aparicio, Alexa Demie and Kirsten Dunst. Rodarte kick started the runway alternative for Fall NYFW 2019 as more creative mediums for broadcasting seasonal collections are gaining traction.

The week continues until Sept. 11 with even more anticipated shows from Christian Cowan, Cynthia Rowley and Michael Kors, among other labels.

By: Nora Hayes