Designers Rediscover Familiar Territory

Jeremy Scott

Jeremy Scott Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

Jeremy Scott went against his usual grain and I’m guessing very few, including the most informed of editors and savvy influencers, saw it coming. The designer, known for his use of bright neon and flashy fluorescent color, delivered a completely black-and-white collection. There were a few denim pieces here and there, adding a bit of blue, but otherwise every single look, from head to toe, was colorless. Then again, things made a lot more sense once the designer’s intention were further clarified. Scott was taking aim at the news, and more specifically fake news and tabloids, and used the looks to mimic newsprint.

 

Less of a criticism of the media and more of an observation on the mutual relationship between creators of content and a distracted audience seeking entertainment and cheap thrills, Scott, who worked with artist Aleksandra Mir, curated headlines from the New York Daily News and the Post. The quotes were reproduced then by hand and placed on puffers, party dresses, chiffon gowns, denim, biker jackets, trousers, and on skirts. With lines such as “Hard Times for Pecker” or “Bezos Exposes Pecker,” the collection as a whole basically read (and felt) like your average avalanche of ridiculous headlines, so prevalent in the ‘news’ and online social media these days.

 

This could have been problematic due to potential limitations, but Scott is a weathered and highly skilled designer. What the looks lacked in color he made up with variances of application, treatment, and technique. Embroidery, distressing, tears, patching, and fringes all added some visible flares to many of the looks. “Less is more” is not necessarily a motto one could have imagined ever applying to Scott’s design, but there you have it.

 

Telfar


Oyinda performing at the Telfar Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

Telfar’s shows are always something to look forward to. Part show and part concert, designer Telfar Clemens understood early on that using his platform for more than just showcasing clothes was not just possible and smart, but important and necessary. The presentation of COUNTRY, his Fall 2019 collection, at Irving Plaza was no exception. If anything, it was more than what could have been expected, which 15 years after his first collection testifies to Clemens’ continued growth as a designer and as a voice for the community that supports him, including the thousand attendees who had showed up that evening to be part of the moment.

 

A collaborative effort with playwright Jeremy O. Harris – who the designer discovered last year when attending Save Play – and a slew of performers and musicians, the presentation combined music, theater, and, of course, fashion. Standing in the middle of an enormous American flag from which the center had been removed (analogies and symbols like this one were everywhere to be noted), Harris opened the show declaring: “There is no California or New York; this land is your land. This is our country, Telfar Country.” Then, to the movement of artist Xavier Cha’s choreography and to live performances by Ashland Mines, Robert Randolph, Oyinda, Butch Dawson, and black punk band Ho99o9, the models emerged one by one. Still inspired by Americana, the collection offered an array of Western-inspired looks, namely in lined jackets and blazers with detachable sleeves, straight or flared leg high-waisted jeans (fastened with thick belt buckles), jersey dresses, down stuffed coats with a terry hooded tops, fringed crewneck sweaters, and corduroys, mostly in an a 70s-inspired earthy palette including browns, navy, and tan.

 

The designer, who appeared towards the end of the show, did something which pretty much summarized the evening and conveyed the emotionally charged vibe of the show. Where traditionally a designer would have bowed and waved, Clemens stepped to the edge of the stage, turned around and dropped himself into the crowd, arms spread wide, glowing and smiling away.

 

Pamella Roland

Pamella Roland Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

Another designer who hardly ever disappoints is Pamella DeVos, president and designer of Pamella Roland. Granted her collections might be somewhat predictable in the sense that one knows what to expect from her shows – both in terms of the looks and her staging – but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Roland knows her customer, understands what she wants, and elegantly fulfills that desire. Paraphrasing an exchange we had before the show, she designs for a confident woman who wishes to feel sensual, strong and feminine but without compromising elegance or class. If, as she also mentioned in passing, her customers wish for more feathers, then they get what they ask for. She wasn’t just saying that for the sake of it either. More looks were more than ever adorned with feathers, including a striking strapless dress embroidered with pearls and embellished with ostrich feathers.

 

To be fair though, her Fall 2019 collection did have a twist, conceptually speaking. Whereas in the past she’s been mostly inspired by travel and art, this time around Pamella found inspiration in her day to day, and close to home. “My Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has beautiful stained-glass windows and I’ve been looking at for years and years,” she told us. “When someone on my team mentioned Tiffany glass as a possible idea, I realized it was something I had been staring at for so long but never associated as such a rich source of inspiration, like colors.” The inspiration was applied throughout the collection by way of trim silhouettes, each look created using exquisite fabrics including laces, stretch crepe, and organza; an array of sumptuous prints; and, of course, embroidery – without which it wouldn’t completely be a Pamella Roland show – which included the use of metallic thread-work, pearls, and floral appliqués. Window-like linear techniques were used throughout the collection, along with blending shades of bold and muted colors to represent the Opalescent technique used in Tiffany stained glass. 35 looks in total that demonstrated the designer’s skill and talent in keeping her brand where it is, high above and unaware of the ongoing wide-spread discussion of whether or not fashion is becoming horizontal.

 

Sies Marjan

Sies Marjan Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.


Marking his seventh season with Sies Marjan, designer Sander Lak’s fall collection was inspired by love; falling in love and feeling love. The collection also concluded an unintentional trilogy that began during his Fall 2018 showing, which was about loss, and which continued in Spring as he reflected on family. For this closing chapter, he ventured into new territory, something that, fittingly, one might do for love. “The collection was about love,” he explained, “but also the friction that happens between comfort and discomfort.”

 

Stepping out of a certain comfort zone, a motion that alone set him apart this season, he used lace, included neon colors and hues, and even brought black into his palette, all elements that he had either verbalized a certain dislike for, or that had never been part of his designer’s toolbox. “We pushed black and coin grey into becoming colors in their own right, took neon shades that were feeling cliché and made them fresh again,” he explained.

 

Frankly, as we sat in the dark waiting for the show to begin, slow circles of light moving around the room and mesmerized by the 3 million tiny Swarovski crystals that had been spread across the entire room, the notes felt more like a great press soundbite than it did a concept. Yet, Lak, although a man of few words, was nonetheless true to them. Living up to his explanation, the designer offered a strong, unexpected, and moving collection which included unexpected looks such as two slick three-piece suits cut entirely from leather, one in a dark brownish-purple and the other in terrific midnight blue; a beautiful twisted silk dress woven with subtle crystal mesh; and even a black dress.

 

Tory Burch



Tory Burch Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.


Tory Burch is very talented at choosing themes of inspirations that exist within the universe she’s already created. Whereas other designers might seek inspiration in important moments of human history (documented or defined by artists, movements, architects, writers, etc.), Burch finds much of her inspiration in her own life – her parents, her travels, a family related interior designer...  This has allowed her, season after season, to stray away – exploring new ways of renewing and reinventing her design – but without ever losing sight of her own aesthetic, making her one of today’s most successfully consistent designers. In a fashion season filled with noise, tiptoeing, and questionable style experimentation, this also makes Burch one of today’s most successful designers.

 

For her Fall 2019 collection, Burch found inspiration in Black Mountain College, an institution I knew nothing about before her show. A liberal arts college, BMC didn’t exist for too long – roughly two decades – but was highly influential, in part because of its approach to education, encouraging its professors and students to use more experimental methods when it came to teaching and learning. Burch even credited BMC as “shaping the trajectory of modern art in America.”

Taking a similar approach in her design, at least in the sense of some experimentation, the collection’s varied scope was its strength. Remaining true to her style, Burch delivered an eclectic range of looks which included color-blocked felt coats, streamlined double-breasted wool coats, shearling-lined suede jackets, pant suits, plaid trench coats, pleated dresses, blouses with ruffled collars, and a plethora of floral print dresses. On the accessory front, the highlights were some leather knee-high boots with gold heels and, of course, some Mary Jane pumps, a Burch classic, which featured a wooden heel and metallic embellishments.

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