Celebrating 60, the CFDA opens NYFW on Thursday evening with mega labels, global brands, rising stars and Gracie Mansion
New York Fashion Week, which will celebrate its 60th anniversary this season with mega labels, global brands and rising stars, opens Thursday evening in a distinguished location, Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the city’s mayor Eric Adams.
New York Fashion Week, which currently boasts a total of 141 live shows, spread over eight days, seems to be rebounding quicker than many rivals, in a season featuring events by over a dozen star European houses, local global brands and a diverse new cast of rising stars.
The officially opening cocktail in Gracie Mansion is not the first time that the grand colonial building on the East River has hosted fashion: Mayors Bill de Blasio, Michael Bloomberg, Rudy Giuliani and even Abe Beame, back in 1977, all hosted events there. But since his election in January Mayor Adams has become happily known as a fervid fashion fan, having enjoyed runway shows by Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren, and attended a Met Gala. Adams showed up in a graffiti-flavored frock by Brooklyn designer Laolu Senbanjo of Nigeria, which read dramatically “End Gang Violence.”
Moreover, Adams has been vocal in his support for the fashion industry and its twice-yearly season, which was estimated to have attracted 150,000 visitors and generated some $600 million per season prior to the pandemic.
“City Hall has always been a friend to fashion. But to have a major who really appreciates fashion’s role in job creation and in the overall economy is really great. We could not be happier that Major Adams and Anna Wintour are kicking off the new season at Gracie Mansion,” explained Steven Kolb, CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the official organizer of the New York season, who will cohost the event.
Hizzoner’s reception also underlines a new dynamism in New York Fashion Week, led by a drive to create far more inclusive seasons, backed up by a policy of unearthing a new generation of talent.
“I am really proud of the fact that this season over 20% of the brands are led by designers of color. There have long been questions about lack of diversity in our industry. But it’s a global issue. It’s a very important conversation we have been having in the States. And to see the lineup for the coming season reflecting greater diversity, well -- I’m very excited about that,” said Kolb.
One important driver has been the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund, many of whose finalists will be showing in NYFW. Among that list, Kolb raved about several. Notably Sukeina, by Omar Salam, a Parsons School of Design graduate who did stints at Sonia Rykiel and Christian Lacroix before forming his own label – named after his late mother, and standing for light.
Also earning his imprimatur: “a really cool knit brand” named Judy Turner; and a spruce new label using explosive prints named Fe Noel, by Grenadian-born Felisha Noe. Another to watch is the beautifully named Harwell Godfrey, a jeweler who skillfully blends ethnic, ancient and posh bohemian.
Plus, Puppets and Puppets, an art-driven project by mixed media artist Carly Mark. “That will be an awesome show!” insists Kolb in a Zoom to his home in Pennsylvania.
Though the heart of the matter in New York will be powerhouse billion-dollar-plus brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Coach and Tom Ford, who is billed as rounding off the season with an evening show on Wednesday, September 14. Proenza Schouler opens the official catwalk action mid-afternoon on Friday, September 9. Though, that morning also begins a New York Men’s Day, featuring menswear brands like Nobis, Terry Singh, Amirok, Atelier Cillian, TEDDY VONRANSON, Todd Patrick, Fried Rice, Hola Market and Nicholas Raefski; along with two genderless labels SO.TY and A.POTTS.
Though perhaps the biggest surprise is the arrival of a quartet of thriving European houses to stage runway shows. Ranging from Fendi, the Roman-born star brand of luxury conglomerate of LVMH, which will stage a 25th anniversary event for its Baguette bag, to Bottega Veneta of rival Kering, and Marni, the darling of the art house avant-garde fashion cognoscenti. Even including active sport giant Puma and Swedish architectural style label Cos.
“Marni and Fendi are conversations we have been having with those brands for quite some time. I see their arrival as a reaffirmation of the power of the US market. We are big country where a lot of people shop. And the best reach way to reach American consumers, and to build a brand and business in USA is to come to New York. So, we really welcome them. It’s all part of a growing recognition of New York city as a platform for global brands. And I am not trying to be so nationalistic. I feel same way for Thom Browne or Altuzarra when they show in Paris and raise our American flag,” enthused Kolb.
Elsewhere, a slew of European labels are also getting in on the action – with parties by Isabel Marant, Givenchy and a skyscraper penthouse bash to fete the new Cara Loves Karl, a linkup with Cara Delevingne and Karl Lagerfeld. US Vogue has a 130th anniversary on Monday and there’s Harper’s Bazaar Icons event – it’s first since the pandemic struck - done with Bloomingdales, to add an extra level of enthusiasm.
While other labels sure to attract intense demand for invitations are Altuzarra, Brandon Maxwell, Carolina Herrera, Gabriela Hearst, Jason Wu, KHAITE, LaQuan Smith, Prabal Gurung, Sergio Hudson and Victor Glemaud. Plus, first-time additions to the schedule’s in-person activations include AnOnlyChild, ASHLYN, Heron Preston, Foo and Foo, Midnight Studios, ONE/OF by Patricia Voto and Tia Adeola.
That said several notable marques like Marc Jacobs, Monse or Pyer Moss are not on the official schedule. Monse will show off-calendar on Thursday with American Express, part of a consumer activation with internet card holders. Jacobs hasn't shown on calendar in quite some time, and Pyer Moss’s last event was a couture show by designer Kerby Jean-Raymond off calendar in July of 2021.
“Lots of people prefer a personal strategy, which is fine. And one reason why when Tom Ford was CFDA chairman we also created an overaching umbrella – American Collections Calendar. So, wherever an American showed, even in Europe, we captured that,” noted Kolb.
However, the biggest missing name of all is Ralph Lauren, America’s single most famous brand, who after staging a one-off show inside the Museum of Modern Art in New York, will now decamp – for at least one season – to LA for an October 13 show.
“I’m not at all surprised by Ralph’s decision. Ralph Lauren is theeee ambassador of American fashion and him going to Los Angeles is a great consumer angle, a tremendous idea. And I would not be surprised if he went to Paris one day. He has the global infrastructure,” said the CFDA CEO.
The CFDA has also teamed up with Polygon Studios and The Sandbox, to provide professional development programs to explain opportunities within the metaverse to designers and fashion professionals.
“I totally believe in creating NFTs. Even if after being immersed in the metaverse it is still like speaking in a foreign language! And who knows where it will be in three months or a year? Brands are very interested but also confused. But we’ve had huge demand for these programs!” underlined Kolb.
All shows and presentations will be presented via Runway360, CFDA’s centralized digital hub and business tool to support American fashion brands’ collection releases year-round.
“Last season I said the theme was resilience and optimism. This season it is about power and action. Of course, the pandemic meant a gradual return, but this is finally a full-on fashion week,” Kolb concluded.
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