The Recession And Fashionistas

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[Runway Talk]

How will the rest of this year turn out for the fashion industry? How has the economic turmoil impacted the industry?

It was clear that it wasn’t business as usual at New York Fashion Week and there is no telling what the summer and falls holds in store. This year, at Fashion Week for example, fashionistas weren’t invited to the fashionable festivities that favored the recessionista - fashionista’s predecessor.

Tongue-tied? As fashion cliques packed Bryant Park for the last time—Fashion Week is moving to the Lincoln Center—designers set themselves up for an ambitious season, and hopefully a buyer worthy collection.

With each year, Bryant Park has been decorated with a theme for the times. Last season’s Bryant Park was decorated with an election theme. This year, the tents – as they are commonly referred to, revisited a simplistic theme. "Our tent graphics go back to fashion’s basics," Fern Mallis, Senior Vice President for IMG Fashion said in her welcome letter to fashion week spectators. "We have used the sketches, photographs, fabrics and other images that inspire our designers, taken from several of their studio inspiration walls."

Indeed, it was the designer who was the main celebrity this season. Celebrities took a back seat and were not always granted their usual all access pass. Celebrity designer Marc Jacobs reportedly cut his guest list down from 1700 guests to roughly 700 audience members instead.

The same goes with the overall theme of Fashion Week. The festivities, which occurred from February 13 – 20th included looks from fashions newest stars, along with some classic favorites. The Heart Truth’s Red Dress Collection – bringing the cause of heart disease awareness to the forefront, drew the largest number of celebrities – most of which were modeling dresses from different designers.

Standout collections were to put is simply – not what I expected.

That may be a little vague. Everything centers on the current state of the economy – everything, including fashion. Designers are beginning to realize this, and it is showing through their collections.

DKNY, which was held in Greenwich, was fresh and simplistic, sort of like the décor in the tents. What I liked most about the collection was its wear-ability. DKNY always does an excellent job of creating looks that are functional and wearable, everyday.

That same day, I was at Walter held in the same vicinity as the tents. Finding a seat at Walter’s Fall/Winter showing was like trying to find Waldo in a crowded puzzle. Instead of seeing any looks from the designer’s collection, I instead looked on at a group of towering, trendy, tyrants that reminded me of the buildings in a fake metropolis with no soul, or personality.


Then I was brought back to reality with Carolina Herrera’s excellent collection of elegant looks. Though for this collection, the skilled designer imported a contemporary element into the equation – something I haven’t seen her do in quite some time.

Then there is Michael Kors. Good old reliable Michael Kors – who never disappoints. This time was no different, though I was not in attendance. Going on photos alone, Kors, once again, revisits the classic American style, that made him famous.

But the true Cinderella story came at the East Coast Floor Show, put on by Ron Cooke, and his talented team of rogue fashionistas. Along with Mr. Jones of Jones Models International, Ron Cooke, a veteran stylist and fashion show producer, put on a new kind of fashion experience with Dee Couture standing out among the designers as a new perspective in textile and design.

Dee Couture’s collection was fresh and classic. Her Virginia roots were felt with every perspective that strutted down the runway – the southern hospitality was certainly present in her collection.

Cooke has a true talent for being able to spot the next big thing in fashion. Aside from bringing Dee Couture to New York, Cooke has been instrumental in the style aspects of some of the world’s biggest stars, including Alicia Keys and Diddy.

It goes without saying that favorites Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, and Tracy Reese, did a bang-up job as always, but the true tent spotlight was on the Barbie runway show that included designer’s takes on the iconic fashion symbol that has been around forever. The show, which featured interpretations from designers like Betsey Johnson, was youthful and colorful as Barbie always has been.

This season was all about pleasing the buyer who was treated like more of a superstar than anyone else – as they should be. For what tuned out to be a very cost-conscious fashion week, designers still pulled out all the stops.

So long Bryant Park – thanks for some of my most fashionable memories.

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