NYFW: DKNY F/W 2014

I’ll admit, I almost passed on this show. By the time it rolled around and finally managed to get started, I was starting to nod off in my seat. DKNY is not normally a brand I get all that excited about because, to be totally honest, I’m old; I much prefer Ms. Karan’s main line, which shows tomorrow. I gave serious thought to skipping it taking a nap. I’m glad I didn’t.

A lot of people inside New York’s fashion industry talk about diversity. A lot of those same people talk about “New York style.” Donna Karan threw down the gauntlet this afternoon and brought both those concepts home with a show unlike any New York has ever seen. Moreover, the show was so incredibly successful, that the social media noise overshadowed everything that came after it.

Ms. Karan stated before the show that this collection, and the show, represented a “mesh up” of New York and New Yorkers, a homogeneous blend of everything that makes New York such a great city. To hear that just as a bare statement, I would be skeptical. New York is not any one thing, or even a handful of things. New York is every thing and then some, all toss together and mix around. How can that blend possibly be applied to fashion without the result being chaos.

To start, Donna laid a foundation with the basic color of the streets: black. She took the color through a variety of iterations, including a wonderfully multi-directional houndstooth, a pseudo-camouflage pattern, letter jackets emblazoned with a bold D, and NY Yankees logo ball caps. We were all the way in to look 39 (of 55) before the palette turned to electric pink and other strong, eye-catching colors.

Silhouettes were all over the place, largely bulky and layered to match the season, but as individual as the people wearing them. There was plenty of leather, an abundance of faux fur, very intelligent use of texture lace, along with this season’s fabric du jour: velvet. This is a collection that contains just about everything, and to which just about anything could be added and still work quite well.

Where Ms. Karan really broke the mold though was with her selection of models. Since her collection was about about the real New York, her models were real New Yorkers. Eschewing the traditional model call, we saw models covered with tattoos, models with dread locks almost to their knees, hair that was very traditional, and more than a few looks that have probably yet to be named. Included among the “models” were breakout rap star Angela Haze, transgender artist/writer Juliana Huxtable, and androgynous model Andrej Pejic. This wasn’t a runway full of size 0 stick figures, but real people in real clothes.

I’m glad I stayed awake for this show (though, I did take a nap before writing the review). My only disappointment is that, no matter how you slice it, I’m still too old to look good in this brand.

Ah, to be 25 and in New York again!

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