We are at the finish line of this season’s fashion circuit for the Spring 2014 collections. So, without further ado, I’d like to share some intelligent and stylish thoughts about the models, the designs, and overall architecture of a few collections that I really fancied.
Pre-fashion week, there was no doubt a certain expectation lingering around the lack of diversity we saw on the runways last season and the ways in which the Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA) addressed it to the American members, followed by a very forward letter from Naomi Campbell and squad. Much of the media responded as politically correct as possible. Read New York Times writer Eric Wilson’s piece about Fashion's Blind Spot here, A lot of the headlines did not shed light on the fact that African-American spending power is far too underestimated, which is a direct correlation to why there is a lack of black models on the runway. So, excuse me if I am getting ahead of myself, perhaps marketing executives are asking: why mirror a non- paying customer on the runway? Wherever the debate hovers, one fact holds certain that there were a lot more models of color on the runway in New York, Milan, London and Paris in light of these recent inspirational talks.
Specifically speaking, I was highly impressed by Givenchy's presentation. Ricardo Tisci’s many strategic alliances with notables such as singer Ciara, rapper Kanye West and famous person Kim Kardashian, probably gave rise to more black girls on his runway. Period. From the first look to the last, we saw African- inspired layered silk dresses that were- at best- complicated to tell where the seam ends and begins. Monochromatic tones of browns and forest greens, and metallic pleated skirts and dresses were sent down the runway that is traditional and extravagant to Givenchy's roots. Surprisingly, there were no tee shirts, thank you.
At Rick Owens, he too challenged the ideology of spreading culture through performance art, inviting American college step dancers to not only perform but replace the models during his presentation. Indeed it was a powerful and very challenging act in the middle of Paris Fashion Week. Not only was Mr. Owen's collection a bit chaotic and opposite to his minimalist personality, but we get a sense for what type of bodies he hopes his designs end up on and the beauty of irregularities. Physically speaking, I’ve been toying with this notion of how fashion design could become in sync with the new millenials and the mindset so to speak. Meaning, how can we get past the concept of the basic skirt, dress, pant uniform and how we put them on? Macroly speaking, where will the new breakthroughs in fashion and people derive from. These are the thoughts that came spewing out of my mind as I examined Owen’s collection paired with after tastes of his recent interview with Harper's Bazaar.
Zeroing in on who’s who in the industry, Ms. Joan Smalls has earned the Supermodel title as she has made an influx of appearances on the world’s best runways. She exudes not only a diverse American background, she also represents Caribbean culture through her Dominican roots. Every time Ms. Smalls graced the runway this season, she commanded attention. It was a show for her and she loved performing for you all.
On business development, we see more markets in the Asian and African regions starting to open the floodgates for creative headquarters, providing more opportunities for transparent production practices and retail space. For example, new designer Stella Jean is restoring the ethical value in her brand. Ms. Jean's spring 2014 collection borrowed from traditional weavers of Burkina Faso to help create the design and overall style of her patterns. Perhaps fashion is returning back to basics of human resources afterall! Not to mention, Giorgio Armani even has praised Stella for her innovative designs. And, on the hour of Stella's presentation in Milan, Mr Armani was instead in Burkina Faso watching a live stream of the show with the local village weavers who helped create the thirty-five runway looks. This newly adopted creed is ironically something the luxury retail market swears by. Though, more often than a little, avoids due to its entitled sense of producing a limited amount of goods in tandem with keeping the demand for the product high.
Furthermore, the more apparent focus this season was really about the return of flats. There are so many health-related articles about the demise of heels and how they are so bad for women and other blasé blasé, borderline tortuous propaganda. Beauty is pain sometimes, get over it. The shift from heels to flats says a change is coming. We can thank Celine for this quiet movement. Haven't you seen the infamous furry and leather inspired- birkenstocks that appeared in all the winter magazine ads!? Raise your glass to the casual luxury client that is us! Wherever the tipping point is identified, showed through in almost all the collections from J.W. Anderson in London to Vivienne Westwood in Paris.