By KERRY TINGA
Anybody who was able to watch the Michael Kors show would agree it would have been a great way to end my first Fashion Week experience. From Gigi Hadid opening the runway presentation to Barry Manilow ending it all with a Studio 54-style performance of his classic “Copacabana,” it really would have been.
Alas, due to pothole after pothole that closed the streets of New York, an Uber driver who honestly had no idea which roads he should have taken, and a truck that stopped on FDR Drive, I missed it.
Mere minutes after they closed the doors of the Cipriani on Wall Street, I walked to a coffee shop next door, embarrassed at this missed opportunity.
Then a notification on my phone mentioned that the Instagram account @michaelkors was starting their live stream. I joined thousands of viewers watching 1970s New York come alive, a mix of playful hedonism and gratuitous glamour, although I suspect few were as close to the real venue as I was.
Nonetheless, that did not matter. The rise of social media has meant that no matter where you are in the world, in fact, no matter who you are in the world—a journalist or a retailer or an editor—you are not closed off from the inner world of fashion.
While the bustling streets of New York during Fashion Week are fun and seductive, fashion has become a democracy. The small-time blogger can voice their opinions right after a show finishes without even being there, without having to wait for the decision of the former gatekeepers as to what is in, what is out, and what is on the cover.
So what can I say? When photos are uploaded by official accounts minutes after a show concludes, and live streams occur simultaneous to the presentation, the only thing that can be said is the actual experience of being there.
Fashion should be about the way a garment relates to each individual person, not market segments and target audiences. The pieces should evoke something in us, be more than just a garment, be a feeling, even a story. Luckily, in watching the shows, being that close to the pieces before they are up for sale online or make their way to retail stores around the world, I could properly experience them in a way photographs and videos are unable to capture.
Three collections that I had the pleasure of watching come to mind.
QUIRKY AND PLAYFUL AT KATE
One of the first shows I watched that week, and one I was immensely excited for, was Kate Spade New York.
It is often a little girl’s first foray into the world of women’s fashion. In front of me sat just such a little girl, in a polka dot headband and a neat dress perfect for the occasion.
The little girl lit up at the playful colors and prints that passed her, at the patched denims and deep colored corduroys, at the quirky runway accessories that included silk turbans and sparkling tights.
The set-up was a beautiful shade of pink as if the little girl got to choose the paint of her new room and went all out with it. This was juxtaposed with the detail in the neo-renaissance ceiling of the building, which brought that bit of sophistication that complimented the playful. The whole thing so absolutely Kate Spade
Although too young to have any use for the stylish satchels and colorful handbags, I felt she was imagining the lady she would become, and the Kate Spade bag she would choose.
Whether you are 11 or 25 or 40, there is a poise and sophistication, balanced with a playful and quirky edge, that ensures that a woman maintains a youthful, girlish spirit as she grows, bit by bit, bag by bag, dress by dress.
READY TO WEAR AND AVANT-GARDE AT TORY BURCH
As I entered Fulton Street Station to catch the 4, I saw a group of women laughing. I recognized their long, sleek braids as the ones I was obsessively taking photographs of during the Tory Burch show that had just concluded. They must have been models, I thought.
I could not recall which ones they were from the 40 or so that walked the runway. All I could remember were the clothes. It was an eclectic mix of color blocks, floral prints, ruffled necks, knitwear, fringes, pleats, and more. And when I say eclectic, I mean it.
Inspired by the progressive, experimental, liberal arts Black Mountain College, the eclecticism was a symbol for the boundlessness of creativity and personal expression the college represented.
In the subway station, the models were no longer wearing pieces from the show, that much I could tell. They all wore different outfits, showcasing their different styles. The Tory Burch collection is an elevated sense of that individualism and personal taste, and I am all for that.
There were pieces that I could never imagine on myself, and pieces that I wanted to order right away, but overall I loved what it all stood for. It is ready-to-wear with the conscience of the avant-garde, a direction I agree fashion should be moving toward.
MODERN CLASSICAL AT DION LEE
A designer whose pieces have become a staple in my wardrobe and a go-to for any formal occasion, Dion Lee showed us a modern take on the classical and baroque.
It was a cold, dark room. I kept my coat on and hugged myself tightly. I forgot about all that the moment the show began.
Not so much dramatic as it was striking, piece after piece of impeccable construction that mixed lace and soft fabrics with modern, eye-catching cutouts and outlines that show a deep understanding of the female body.
It is all about skin and the female body without any bawdiness. It showed how to be sensual and sultry in a smart way, a style perfect for the modern woman (which is how I see myself).
Backstage was a wonderfully organized scene of chaos as models were changing, pieces were photographed, and equipment was being put away. In a moment, it would be all gone: The room empty, the clothes bagged, the end of my Fashion Week experience. Just like that.
While I fail to remember the exact details of every garment that I saw, I remembered how certain ones made me feel, which I wanted to try on and wear out. After that week, these musings and memories are what are left (and, of course, some blurry photographs). That is, until they go on sale so I can take that feeling of falling in love with a piece back home to hang in my closet.