By Anetta Nowosielska
Having recently experienced the Mercedes Benz Spring 2011 Fashion Week up close and personal, my attitude towards the trade that is as revered as it is ridiculed has gotten a major make over. In the words of Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Lincoln Center’s new fashion director, “beyond the glitz and the glamour, this is a huge industry.” And to boot, the industry has gotten a new, fancy address too. In the event you’ve been living under a rock, this year’s fashion extravaganza has moved from Bryant Park to Lincoln Center (Damrosch Park more specifically,) and with it fashion’s legitimacy as a cultural medium shot through the roof.
As with Paris or Milan, where fashion shows have always found glorious homes in royal palaces or courtyards of ancient universities, New York has finally granted the ultimate recognition to an industry that brings in much profit to the city’s coffers. Gone are the days when fashionistas, decked out in their finest couture, shared uneven pavement with…gasp…headhunters, whose center of activities seems to hover over public library area. Or worse yet, with tourists from Midwest. Alas, the beautiful crowd now calls the epicenter of American cultural arts home.
Location may have changed, but the spectacle inside remained the same, minus some minor adjustments. Front rows were filled with starlets and exhausted editors too busy assessing who had the best seating arrangement or whose haircut was fiercer to mind the very reason why they were there in the first place. Camera crews followed big industry names, ready to document the smallest of happenings for an episode of one reality show or another. True story: at one point during the Carolina Herrara show, crews got mixed up and ended up following the wrong host. On the runway, days of first name only, out-of-this-world supermodels are long gone. OVER. Frail looking teenagers, who appear to be miraculously walking despite looking starved for food or affection or both, have replaced the glamazons of the past. Movie stars so available to dress up front rows not long ago, have been substituted by up-and-coming girls headlining shows on the CW network. And is it any wonder? Getting a famous Australian to sit at a show can cost as much as producing the entire collection. Who has got that kind of cash? Gossip Girls and some very desperate housewives are less pricey. They will actually settle for a wardrobe instead of payment.
Style wise, spring is looking rosy. Standouts included Catherine Malandrino , who delivered a line that was romantic sans saccharine, Monique Lhuillier, whose “Garden of Eden” collection was well-edited and breathtakingly beautiful, and Prabal Gurung, who, in a short period of time, has cemented his righteous place among America’s greatest fashion designers (on a stereotypical note, Asian American designers are ruling the runways. From Derek Lam to Richard Chai to Alexander Wang, these young visionaries are defining our fashion direction.) Regardless what designer you’ll be coveting next year, get ready for some high-waisted pants that flare out at the bottom and splashes of red apple and orange seen throughout most collections. Harem pants, for better or worse, will continue to defy logic, and in Malandrino’s version, they are surprisingly sexy. Skirts, unlike the minis we got used to over the past few seasons, will blossom into a full statement of sophistication as we saw in Marc by Marc Jacobs and Vena Cava. Strategic use of floaty sheer fabrics was a clear direction for many. J. Mendel played it coy with subtle panels or overlays and, as per usual, Proenza Schouler’s version offers sexiness without the vulgarity factor.
As fashions will evolve each season so will the machine that aims to highlight them.
“As far as I am concerned these are the last days of a mismanaged giant,” says Laurent Pingaud, the well respected model management veteran. “With the internet defining our lives today, the need to actually attend these shows becomes an absolute, ego driven expense no one in this industry can afford today.” Indeed, with information being disseminated as soon as the curtains have closed, access to future trends are limited only by the speed and capacities of our individual laptops. Still, can a stream of images replace a show? Stay tuned.