For the last two years, New York Fashion Week felt threatened by the future thanks to 2016 buzzwords like "see-now-buy-now" and "influencers" and "Paris just feels right for us." The shows were no longer in one central location, bloggers were clawing at the Skylight Clarkson Sq. elevator, and the press seemed more interested in the kids outside wielding borrowed LVxSupreme gym bags and Gucci fur loafers than Laura Kim's first collection for Oscar de la Renta. Buyers and Editors felt betrayed, PR reps felt overwhelmed, and customers were left unsure where their focus and loyalties should lie.
Then came Wednesday.
Tom Ford, famed British menswear designer, kicked things off Wednesday night with his (not see-now-buy-now) women's collection that was pumped with everything that makes Tom Ford great. He combined his expertly tailored suits with the 90s glam that he used to resurrect Gucci and YSL and packaged it with Hollywood glamour and a signature fragrance that was everything the American woman wants.
On Thursday, the first official day of NYFW, Raf Simons showed his sophomore collection for Calvin Klein. Like Tom Ford, Simons continued to build his collection on aspects of American pop culture that we remember as--wait for it--great. Images from Hitchcock's films and 60's Pop Art were placed on last season's desirable old-western silhouettes and attendees left one of the most anticipated presentations of the season nostalgically remembering what the American dream embodies.
Similar sentiments have been expressed at other shows as well. At the KITH show, audience members were described as "optimistic in a way that felt natural-- like people wanted to be there instead of paid to be there." In the age of social media, Fashion Month got manipulated into one instance of FOMO after another. The main attraction became the guest list and the hashtag instead of the vision and the clothes. But as a handful of well known designers decided to test the waters in other markets (Paris, Los Angeles, Paris in January, etc), the designers that continue to work and show in New York and their loyal followers feel like what is left of New York Fashion Week is.... the great parts.
While the "atmospheres" are still becoming more and more of a spectacle, this season they are designed to embody the spirit of the collection instead of an Instagram backdrop. While guest lists continue to look expensive, the front rows are packed with the people who truly support the brands.
With the retail landscape and the "future of fashion" are changing every day, new designers are able to show their collections however they see fit. This could involve a runway show, an intimate presentation, a garden party with Cirque du Soleil performers, an editorial photo shoot, or an interpretive dance performance at Lincoln Center. And with so many big name designers no longer in New York hogging all of the attention, these new designers have a platform.
So two days in, the industry collectively woke up, decided it was all still worth it, and got to work. Two days in, designers decided to show the collections they wanted to show. And for the last two days, New York Fashion Week has been really, really great.