New York Fashion Week: a long-standing weakening
A few years ago, participating in New York Fashion Week was the dream of every American designer. But in 2021, the heyday of American Fashion Week looks a long way off. And if the pandemic is obviously the explanation, it is not the only one responsible. In January 2019, she was already shaken by the changes introduced by designer Tom Ford when he arrived at the head of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), responsible for promoting fashion professionals in the United States. Replacing Diane von Furstenberg, who had held the post for thirteen years, he quickly announced that American Fashion Week would be shortened to five days from the previous week. If the decision was welcomed by many professionals in the sector, eight months later, the event did not seem to be doing better. Big names in the industry like Ralph Lauren or Pyer Moss had chosen not to parade this season. Tommy Hilfiger, yet a regular in New York fashion week, presented his new collection in London. Even Tom Ford, yet president of the CFDA, decided to parade outside the Big Apple, flying to Los Angeles instead. “Someone asked me the other day how I could justify the fact of parading in Los Angeles since I am today the president of the CFDA,” he explained at the time in the pages of “Business of Fashion”. I reminded him that it is the Council of Fashion Designers of America and not the Council of Fashion Designers of New York ”.
A year later, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the industry hard, to the point of further weakening American Fashion Week. Newly arrived at the White House, President Joe Biden announced to close the borders of the United States to American citizens and to tighten the restrictions to fight against the coronavirus. Result: Fashion Week is deserted, to the point that some designers prefer to postpone, see cancel, their parade initially planned. Among the big absentees this season: Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger, Tory Bush and Pyer Moss. Zimmerman, the Australian label that has been showing its collections in New York since 2013, has chosen to parade in Sydney. Tom Ford, who was to present his new collection on the evening of February 17, announced just hours before the show that the parade would ultimately not take place. “Due to unforeseeable circumstances due to Covid-19, the presentation of the lookbook of the Tom Ford collection for fall / winter 2021 on Runway 360.com has been postponed to February 26 at 10 a.m.”, can we read in this communicated. Other houses had decided to parade outside of the official dates, including Carolina Herrera, Coach and Oscar de la Renta, who will unveil their collections on February 22 and 23 and March 2, respectively. New York Fashion Week, which took place online, was therefore mostly made up of young designers, and a few big names like Jason Wu, Ulla Johnson and Rebecca Minkoff.
Some highlights despite everything
Despite the hardships, the creators of New York Fashion Week managed to come up with some memorable moments. This is particularly the case of Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, a designer duo at the head of Proenza Schouler. The founders of the American house invited Ella Emhoff, daughter-in-law of Kamala Harris, vice-president of the United States, to step onto the podium. The 21-year-old took a break in front of the camera three times, successively in a black leather trench coat, a long gray coat and a dark pantsuit. “It was my first fashion experience,” she confided to the two designers in a video broadcast on Runway360, the official website of New York Fashion Week. I must say I was a little nervous ”. Lazaro Hernandez specifies that the short film was shot in the streets of New York a few weeks ago, when the temperature was close to -10 ° C. The young woman, who signed with the modeling agency IMG a week after the inauguration of Joe Biden, is fast becoming the new darling of fashion.
Others have taken advantage of the present moment to experiment with new ways of working. This is the case of Rebecca Minkoff, who proposed a parade to follow on TikTok and Instagram, but also visible through the prism of augmented reality. By logging into Yahoo from their mobile phone, consumers can discover the pieces of the collection in augmented reality, being able to zoom in on a fabric and examine a garment in great detail. This content “really allows the consumer to get closer to the designer and the garment without even entering a store,” she told “Women’s Wear Daily” (WWD). For his part, Jason Wu, one of the only two designers to present a physical show (with only 25 guests), chose to remain hopeful. The designer has recreated a bucolic market, with its fruit and vegetable baskets, flower stands and its warm and friendly atmosphere. Like the decor, the Jason Wu fall-winter 2021-2022 collection was colorful and based on timeless cuts.
In another context, this week was also an opportunity for the actors of American fashion to speak out on racist violence against people of Asian origin, which has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. The latest report from the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center from October 2020 listed more than 2,800 incidents, ranging from verbal and physical assault to vandalism. The situation is all the more serious since, since the beginning of 2021, the elderly have been the most affected by these acts. This week, an 84-year-old man of Thai origin was shot dead in San Francisco. In Oakland, Calif., A man also injured two men, 91 and 60, and a 55-year-old woman. Following this violence, designer Philipp Lim spoke on his social networks. He directly accused former President Donald Trump of being the source of this anti-Asian hatred. Likewise, creator Prabal Gurung shared figures on the increase in racist acts against the Asian community, proving the urgency of the situation. “Who has the right to be American? He asked two years ago, during his spring-summer 2020 parade, pointing out the restrictive measures against immigrants, then put in place by the Trump administration. Today, his fight unfortunately remains relevant today.