One of the things I do prior to each runway season is taking a trip to several of the fashion stores to get a feel for what’s moving or not, and the level of traffic they’re getting. Our trip out last week wasn’t especially encouraging. Most stores only had one or two customers milling about. At Sak’s Fifth Avenue, floor staff was huddled into small groups, anxiously waiting to pounce on any would-be customer that might enter their territory. One of the most depressing stores, however, was Michael Kors. While there were plenty of clothes arranged nicely and attractively, there was no one in the store. No one. A couple of staff milled quietly toward the back of the store, barely looking up when my son and I entered. We stayed in the vicinity for quite a while and never saw anyone else entering the store. Michael Kors has a problem.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the clothes shown in this morning’s show help that problem any. Once again, Kors seems to be playing catchup. The line felt very much as though he was trying to cash in on trends that were, in some cases, three or four seasons old. There was so much khaki in this collection there are times I felt as though we might be watching an old DKNY show. As with many designers we’ve seen the past couple of seasons, there were plenty of oversized shirts and sweaters and long sleeves went at least past the wrists if not beyond the fingers. Yawn. We’ve seen that enough to not be impressed.
We did see a lot of floral prints, and that might be the strongest point of the collection. The daisy prints seem especially popular with a younger portion of the audience, but the older adults in attendance, which are more likely the editors and senior buyers, were largely unimpressed. While the prints are attractive, there is nothing especially unique about the silhouettes. Now, that may well be part of Kors’ strategy. There’s something to be said for sticking with silhouettes that are comfortable and familiar. This is especially true in the Midwest. However, based on the company’s shrinking sales, that strategy doesn’t seem to be working as well now as it has in the past.
I have to give Kors some credit for attempting to toss in one relatively risky look, a crop top paired with matching high-waisted shorts. You know, the ones that look like granny panties, which have been inexplicably popular this season. He presented multiple variations on the look, but none seemed all that exciting when mixed in with the other more bland looks. There’s also s pink laser-cut mesh dress in the mix, but it blends in with all the other bright colors so it didn’t stand out. Pull these pieces out on their own and perhaps someone might take notice.
Kors does get credit for the bright color palette he uses. I found it interesting that before the show he was talking about how there are no seasons in fashion anymore. He’s been trying to go for a blended-season look, not fully committing to a current season show, though about 25 of the styles shown this morning are available for immediate sale. Still, there was little confusion that such bright colors infer spring/summer. This is a seasonal collection despite his reluctance to call it such.
One bright piece I found in the collection, and I didn’t really notice it until I was looking at the still photos, is a wrapped asymmetrical trench coat. The piece is slipped into the middle of the collection and there’s not anything else similar to it. The cut and style are both unique, attractive, and totally practical for a busy businesswoman. Marketed correctly, this has the potential to be a major breakout piece. We’ll see if that happens.
What made this morning’s show worth attending, even if one didn’t especially like the clothes, was that in place of a soundtrack was a live performance by Rufus Wainright. We’ve seen a few designers try the live music thing over the years and Burberry is about the only label that has managed to make the live music successful. The smoothness of Wainright’s voice was a pleasure to hear. I did find it interesting that for the models’ finale walk Rufus chose his cover of Judy Garland’s “Get Happy.” The tune is bouncy and cheerful and set a good tempo for the walk. The lyrics got interesting, though, when Kors comes out for his final bow as Wainright is singing: “Shout hallelujah, Come on get happy, Get ready for the judgment day.”
If this collection fails to pull up Kors’ bottom line, that judgment day isn’t going to be all too happy. The company’s board of directors are already wearing their frowny faces. Let’s hope this season is enough to make them happy.