New York Fashion Week Grows Up

Reed Krakoff

Reed Krakoff

There has been a whole lot of sexy going on in New York this past week. That's normal, for this time of year. Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, which began last Thursday, wraps up today. And while the après Labor Day fashion buzz is nothing unusual, what has struck me this go round is that the transition people have anticipated for ages has finally happened: New York Fashion Week has grown up.

Maybe it was the move from Bryant Park to Lincoln Center two years ago. Maybe it was the seasoning of a crop of talented younger designers--Proenza, Alexander, JasonZac--filling in behind the old guard--Ralph, Donna, Carolina, Oscar--creating a solid platform for a new guard--Wes, Reed, the OlsensSophie. Maybe it is the culmination of six years of tending and nurturing of the CFDA by wise, multi-term President, Diane von Furstenberg. Whatever the reason, this was not a hit-or-miss New York Fashion Week. One collection after another was fabulous. Sexy was dialed-up to 10. 

I have favorites. Topping the list: colorful and refined Sophie Theallet, countered by badass and edgy Proenza Schouler (A lime green and black python vest and white punched out leather skirt lead the way? C'mon now guys, you're killing me.). Daytime/nighttime, uptown/downtown, yin/yang.

Close behind, much to my surprise: Alexander Wang and Reed Krakoff. I haven't ever been drawn to either designer, but I loved both of these very modern collections. Another yin/yang pair: Wang, mostly black, white and silver, very structured, lots of leather. Krakoff, on the other hand, soft, slouchy, relaxed neutrals. And in both of these collections: the shoes. The shoes! (Bye-bye platforms. Not sad.)

Finally, another duo, both broadcasting chic glamour: Jason Wu and Chado Ralph Rucci, Wu drawing inspiration from the hyper-sexy photography of Helmut Newton and Rucci doing what he does impeccably--exquisite, tailored elegance, punctuated this season with a snap of attention-grabbing neon. (Some of you will remember my tongue-tied encounter with Rucci last year. I am a long-time admirer.)

Twenty years ago then-CFDA Executive Director Fern Mallis shepherded New York Fashion Week into existence, spurred on by a rogue piece of ceiling landing on the head of fashion editor Suzy Menkes at a 1991 Michael Kors show in Chelsea, so the story goes. Today Michael Kors is running a $10 billion, global company. And now, with the tents anchored by a broad and deep bench of sophisticated designers, fashion week generates $700 million a year for the New York economy. All grown up, indeed.

Throughout this week longtime New York fashion doyenne, Ellin Saltzman, has contributed a chatty, picture-rich set of posts about the shows to New York Social Diary. They begin in reverse order here.

Thom Browne's quirky collection was one that I didn't find so sexy. But the quality of craftsmanship and the originality of thinking was extraordinary, perhaps reminiscent of Alexander McQueen. Links on the six designers' names, above, are to reviews and photos. You can check my Pinterest Style board for a handful of other looks that I liked from the week, and you can watch Proenza Schouler's runway show below.