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In a world of fashion capitals, is New York the province?

Reflections of an American fashion insider at the end of fashion month

In a world of fashion capitals, is New York the province? Reflections of an American fashion insider at the end of fashion month
Conrad Byer

When fashion month ends, with the constantly spectacular fashion shows in Paris, what happened at the beginning of the season in New York is often forgotten. In fact, New York Fashion Week tends to be given much less attention than London, Milan or Paris.  New York Fashion Week has “died” and “come back to life” many times over the past 5 years. To the general public, it’s a fashion spectacle of clothes on models, and includes the parading around of who's important and who’s not. But, NYFW, along with every other fashion week around the world, has always been about the same thing. The clothes. But today, what does a “good” fashion week look like, and who exactly gets to determine when this bi-annual time slot for designers, who, I must add, have spent months creating in order to show off their designs to the world, is “dead”?

Technically, NYFW can only be dead if those that contribute to it allow it to be. A fashion week crowd consists of various magazine editors, wardrobe stylists, buying directors, VIP clients, and a certain balance of influencers/celebrities. This same crowd then determines which of the clothes/accessories will get in front of the eyes and in the hands of the masses. Us, as humans who seek entertainment at every corner, have attached the parties the day drinking, and the amount of “important people” in attendance to these shows when, at its core, the collective fashion month does not exist to cater to any of these things. Nonetheless, some brands (and their PR teams) are keeping NYFW very interesting. Absent this season, are the maximum-budget, mind blowing, high energy parties that go until 5am with large crowds heckling the PR door girl about the guest list. Just parties that end around 2 or 3.

Laquan Smith tapped into Julia Fox to have her open his runway show in the midst of her breakup with Ye. Very New York of her. Laquan’s collection was a lovely assortment of, to put it quite simply, clothes that are meant to be shown off in a very extravagant setting. The show was followed up by an exceptionally fun after party featuring two open bars, supermodels, a performance by Saucy Santana and lots of dancing. Bronx and Banco showed a procession of ostentatious, skin-baring garments that kept the crowd, and myself (who partook in Bronx and Banco’s very generous open bar before the show) saying “oooh, ahhhh” during the entire presentation. Saint Sintra’s runway show, held in one of Soho, New York’s newest “club kid” venues, featured a very slow cat walk (I mean, VERY slow) with a cheeky, unconventionally cool design aesthetic. Dion Lee, after his very fashion forward show, hosted a very New York techno after party. No photographers were present (something I assumed was rather intentional), so I took a very minimal amount of photos of the attendees and avoided photographing the kind of club activities that might garner a cease and desist letter. I guess you just had to be there. 

All and all, NYFW wasn’t bad. The snob-core collective of New York’s older fashion pioneers determined that fashion week is dead, as it is no longer serving them in the same shallow way that it once did. American Legacy brands have allowed the “New York Fashion Week is dead” movement to convince them to jump ship on the week as a whole, choosing to remove themselves from the black sheep of fashion month and are, instead, opting, to show off-season or overseas as to not be associated with that which is a “has-been”. Due to New York’s designers bailing on its city, the fashion hungry youth of NYC feel NYFW is dead because there seem to be no more high fashion shows to sneak themselves into. But, there are lots of amazing new comers! 

I’ve watched a collective of people take something they once chased and loved, get comfortable with it, and toss it to the side once they were satisfied with it. Now the two weeks a year that were once highly loved and coveted are used goods. The two weeks a year that are meant to celebrate fashion as a collective of fashion enthusiasts is now looked down on. As a true fashion enthusiast, season after season, I am keenly tuned into view what these crafty, passionate designers make every season. The parties, the celebrity, and everything else is just a perk. I’m impartial to fashion week being “boring”, or “very fun” because, either way, it’s about the clothes.