New York Fashion Week Ended as it Began: in the 1980s

Marc Jacobs, fall 2018. Credit Landon Nordeman for The New York Times

I am less aware of February’s New York Fashion Week (a week that included the fall/winter 2018 runway collections and ready-to-wear styles presented by popular and lesser-known designers), as it has moved downtown from more well-known sites like Lincoln Center and Bryant Park. But indeed, NYFW wrapped on February 16th – ending just as it began – in the 1980s. And the clothes made the message – the visual effects of over-the-top, with asymmetrical and overblown color and size and shape. Nostalgic, yes, and perhaps a message of where and how a designer works a silhouette and the power of the image. Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic of The New York Times, says:

Because of the exaggerated coats with battering-ram shoulder pads that triangulated the body in the extreme, and looped with great swaths of scarves tossed around the neck. Because of the pleated leather clown trousers with giant taffeta and silk rosettes at the waist and blouses with matching out-to-there bows at the neck, all in a Cover Girl palette of ruby, hot pink, turquoise, marigold and grape.”

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“But this is an Alaïa!” ~ Cher Horowitz

This is the scene from Clueless-Cher, wearing Alaïa; photo courtesy of Paramount

The first time I heard the name of famed fashion designer, Azzedine Alaïa, was in a movie.  I remember it well – the year was 1995, and I was sitting in a theater in Greenwich Village – watching a funny and charming movie called, Clueless. In one scene, Cher, was being held up at gunpoint in the seedier part of LA and asked to lay on the asphalt. Protested Cher, “But, this is an Alaïa,” and she began to cry. “He’s like a totally famous designer.”

Azzedine Alaïa was a famous, uncompromising designer – known for his sculpture and silhouettes, molding his dresses to women’s forms – but he was equally famous for his rejection of the fashion system and his insistence on going his own way. Last Saturday, Azzedine Alaïa passed away at 82.

Alaïa held intimate shows in his Paris headquarters off-schedule that had nothing to do with designated fashion weeks or with following what the press and retailers demanded. He rejected the official calendar, preferring to reveal his clothing as he deemed it ready. Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times, says Alaïa “dedicated his life to the belief that fashion was more than just garments; to him, they were as much an element in the empowerment of women and of a broader cultural conversation … He used leather and knits to shape and support the body, transforming it into the best version of itself. He eschewed external decoration for internal integrity, weaving pattern and adornment into the weft of the garment itself in ways that were almost undetectable to the outside eye.” Continue reading

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Ciao Franca Sozzani

Franca Sozzani

Franca Sozzani at the Venice Film Festival in 2014; Credit Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic for The New York Times, wrote a beautiful piece remembering Franca Sozzani, editor of Italian Vogue, who passed away this past week at age 66. Friedman says that Sozzani was an editor who knew that fashion wasn’t really about clothes – she elevated Italian Vogue to a new level and made it better, and was not only talented but influential. When Friedman interviewed Sozzani in 2013, she said, “Here’s what I think: Fashion isn’t really about clothes. It’s about life. Everyone can afford fashion on some level, everyone can talk about it. So what else can we say? We can’t always be writing about flowers and lace and aquamarine.” In fact, in the 28 years that Sozzani reigned at Italian Vogue Friedman says she “redefined the job as editor,” never shying away from important issues of the day and regularly breaking boundaries. “At a time when so much of what designers and magazines and stores do has become a numbers game calculated by market research and page views and what sold well last season, her example argues for the opposite. She took risks. They didn’t always end well. But more often than not, she was proved right.” ~ Vanessa Friedman 

On a day when I am waking to the sad news of the passing of George Michael, I am touched by the passing of this fashion influencer.


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