Eight style lessons from New York Fashion Week

The colours, cuts and wardrobe tweaks worth taking note of

Sarah Kennedy takes eight style lessons from New York Fashion Week to highlight the colours, cuts and wardrobe tweaks worth taking note of

Pass the Cream

Aside from every shade of purple plus burgundy, navy and more rusty brown, we are still close to the butter dish for next autumn – it’s going to be a winter of dry cleaning bills.

Just like black (which by the way, Tom Ford told us after the show “suits everyone and frames the face beautifully” – thank you, Tom!), there is also a tone of white to suit everyone.

It feels luxurious, bold and impactful to wear white in the winter, be it as a long cutaway tailcoat and flared, flowing pants from Ralph Lauren or a leather coat, skirt and boots by Rosetta Getty.

Ex-boho Getty seems to be escaping the spirit of Talitha and entering the market proper for strong, linchpin pieces.

At native New Yorker Ryan Roche’s show, off-white and creamy, dreamy separates floated beneath the main fashion radar like ghosts.

Tutu Chic

From day one of the shows, journalists worried aloud about whether New York is still relevant fashion-wise or not. The doom prophecies were heightened by the lack of celebrities — all busy partying elsewhere at the Grammys and the Baftas, lamented fashion trade publication WWD.

Also, since the city’s most recent heyday in 2014-2015, when Kanye West first introduced Yeezy, innovators and new designers have struggled to make a splash.

There was a sense of competition among the assembled press-pack to seek out New York’s Next Big Thing.

Stylist Katie Grand obliged by finding Tomo Koizumi, a talented young designer on Instagram in Japan, and giving him two weeks to produce a pop-up show in Marc Jacobs’s New York store.

The resulting buzz around Koizumi’s sherbet-hued, multilayered net tutus revealed the buzz factor the fash pack can still get from a young designer expressing freedom of thought.

Image: Getty Images

A Star is Reborn

Anyone still wondering about New York’s fashion star power by the end of the week was electrified by the Marc Jacobs show. This time, to use a local expression, he truly knocked it out of the park.

The show started bang on time in his usual last slot of the week, after late running debacles of the past.

Many looks carried forward the mid-century essence at the core of all Jacobs’s best work: wool swing coats in dusky pink or a minty green were an ode to the late 1940s, styled with the designer’s signature bobby socks and conical heeled pumps.

“This is what we came for,” said the editors from Vogue Germany on the way out, high on the delight of seeing something startling and beautiful at last.

From feather-adorned beanies by milliner Stephen Jones to amazingly crafted feather adorned mini-gowns, everything was right.

The High Row

“Who buys The Row?” asked a friend last week of the highly priced (a cashmere coat is currently priced at £11,675 (R214,014) on matchesfashion.com) brand masterminded by former child stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

My answer covered female execs in the creative industries, owners of yoga empires and so on – but maybe I should just have asked, “Ever been to a concrete-walled art gallery with national debtlike prices and a centre-parted receptionist with an iPad? She’s wearing The Row. How about a meeting between a female power-talent agent and show producers from Netflix/HBO? Outfits by The Row.”

The brand is enormously successful in New York because it’s not very American: New Yorkers crave anything just out of reach, and the luxurious textures of natural wool and silk at The Row feel Italian.

The ultra-plain styling of the label’s signature looks goes askew with a full blowout, so locals have had to adapt — I’m convinced big hair’s demise is partly due to stealth styling by The Row as they quietly tone everyone down.

For next winter, fine wools cut into corset-shaped coats and jackets in The Row’s own shades of grey or palest camel were among the most wanted items of the week.

A black wool cape dress, silk funnel high necks and blank but perfectly proportioned oversized pieces demonstrated the full pulling power of this label, which could even be a cult.

Empire State of Fine

For sheer wearability, emerging backstop brands taking over from Donna Karan and Calvin Klein include Brock Collection, Phillip Lim and The Row. Brock’s frayed-edge tweeds felt like punky Chanel and Phillip Lim offered kitten-heeled ankle boots and weather-busting traditional beige macs over multi-pleat skirts.

Pleats were everywhere from Coach to Gabriela Hearst but designers favoured panels of pleats and lightweight fabrics over bulk — very easy to like if you hate fuss.

A new addition to this roster of rising stalwarts is Hugo Boss. Chief brand officer Ingo Wilts cleverly cited an imaginary well-to-do man and woman browsing round a Chelsea art gallery as his inspiration in the show notes, going straight for the big money guns in the city right now. His granite wool blazer and flared contrast-checked pants could definitely help strike a deal.

Well Suited

Image: AFP

Tailoring captured the current spirit of American women as they rally together in preparation for the 2020 election.

From masculinely styled velvet at Kate Spade to navy pinstripes at Tory Burch, tailored trousers also relieved many shows of the tired tracksuit, hopping in where the leisure item might once have walked. We are finally done with heavy jersey and striped legs.

“Tailoring is something I have been incorporating more over the past few collections but it was a hero here,” Han Chong of British-based brand Self-Portrait told me after the show.

The designer has pushed further out from his original pretty dresses, tops and skirts into suiting.

“There has been so much streetwear recently. I think my customer wants something chicer, pieces which offer comfort and confidence.”

For those of us who love The Row but not the prices, former creative director Francesco Fucci has taken up residence at Theory. Meeting him revealed a fabric specialist determined to make the most comfortable yet purposeful tailoring and easy separates for us all.

Meanwhile, Back in the 1970s

Image: AFP

We’re talking both the decade of life and that period before the ’80s here; New York designers embraced diversity in age this week. Long-time Vogue stylist Tonne Goodman walked for the combined Creatures of the Wind and CDLM show from designers Chris Peters and Shane Gabier; Christy Turlington carried the last look at Marc Jacobs and Patti Hansen closed Michael Kors.

Admittedly, these women are blessed with the clear-skinned, fine-boned faces of the All-American girl grown up but at least this was not a season for poorly looking tween waifs.

Models, including Gigi and Bella Hadid, Mayowa Nicholas and Mica Arganaraz, were slender but they didn’t look starved.

A pre-season plea by the Council of Fashion Designers of America asked that show casting avoided very young or vulnerable models. The overall result was a pleasing, naturally healthy face and hair styling that felt inclusive even at uber-luxurious stops like Carolina Herrera or Oscar de la Renta.

It’s always the 1970s somewhere in New York and for Michael Kors, that is just fine. Both he and Tom Ford talked about that decade this week as their golden growing up time, those formative years when, to quote Ford, “You first noticed a beautiful man or woman or envied how someone dressed” sticks within us all.

Although I missed the Studio 54 generation, I love the music and history of their New York, so will take a pair of Tom Ford mauve satin platforms and a raspberry velvet fitted jacket off the runway, please.

I’d also be happy with the lace-up boots, patchwork coat and double-breasted, Parisian-feeling jacket from Michael Kors.

Throw in a Longchamp black shearling coat with leather patch pockets or their black, frilled, tiered-effect dress and I’m good to go for autumn/winter 2019.

Image: AFP

All In

The details, that is. While street style stars cavorted outside the shows in multi-coloured freebies huge brands can’t get rid of, fashionable types simply belted up.

Belts were big and wide, with everyone taking on this trend looking rather bulky.

This is not a look for me – and don’t think I haven’t tried – so instead, I’m looking forward to next winter, because then we can all tie a leather thong (Theory), chains of crafted coins (Gabriela Hearst) or a slick, narrow glint of a buckle and shiny leather (Ralph Lauren) around our waists and instantly pull ourselves into the future. – The Daily Telegraph