Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week is unique among the major fashion weeks in that there is no governing body determining who can or cannot show their work; if you have the funds and can find the space, you can mount a show. As a result, New York is a bit of a free-for-all with an impossible schedule, sometimes pitting major names against each other. The upside is that we get to see exciting, inspirational work by lesser-known designers.
Looking back at day one of NYFW, five shows stand out: Nicholas K, BCBG Max Azria, Kenneth Cole, Nebraska-born designer Timo Wieland, and the group show, Concept Korea. From start to finish, these designers set a very positive and exciting tone for the week.
Nicholas K started the day strong by showing earthy, layered tones hued in dark greens and grays. Inspired by the Arctic, these are clothes that are definitely meant for cooler weather. Among the things that stand out: Hoods. Lots and lots of hoods, mostly atop cropped bodices with full sleeves; it’s an interesting way to keep warm without covering up a cool ensemble underneath. The open backs of Nicholas K dresses continue in this vein as well, though we barely got a peek of them beneath the layers of coats and capes going on.
BCBGMaxAzria is always a big show and this season was no exception. Inspired by Turkish architecture and the work of contemporary artist Phil Frost, the amazing prints are really what stands out and will ultimately make it one that does, or doesn’t, do well in stores. For the most part, skirts are long, as in ankle-length or even longer, with a hip-high slit on the right side. The look is strong and sensual, if not a bit breezy. Thigh-high oxblood leggings under the skirted looks help to offset the chill.
Nebraska native Timo Weiland comes to Fashion Week with a decidedly British feel to the line he created with partner Alan Eckstein. Inspired by Tudor architecture, the pair even used a photo taken while flying over the English countryside for one of their prints. What works are the polished button down collars and the muted plaids seen in several of the designs. The brocade suits are nothing short of beautiful, with classical styling and exquisite tailoring.
The only way to describe the Concept Korea show is performance art — absolutely brilliant, dynamic, and moving performance art. What this collective brought to the runway was more than just Korean-inspired fashion; it was an experience steeped in the very heart and soul of their country. Organized by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, the purpose of this show was to share with the world just how ready Korean designers are to participate in the global fashion industry. Message received, loud and clear.
Kenneth Cole finished the day, ending a seven-year absence from the runway. His fashions tend to run toward the masculine, with broad collars and double-breasted blazers and vests. There is a lot of leather, which we expect from Cole, but its not boring or stiff; he knows (better than most) how to work with the material and doesn’t push it into places it doesn’t belong. He compliments the leather with tweeds, wool, and cashmere so that the style never loses its softness. The colors started predictably dark, but the oohs and ahs grew when the palette moved into dark greens, golds, and oxblood. Then, for the finale, all the models whipped out their phones and took pictures of the audience that instantly were posted on Instagram.