Zac Posen simultaneously celebrated his 15th anniversary alongside his show this season, opting out of a traditional runway format and instead hosting a photo exhibit-slash-party. Nestled in his former showroom space on Laight Street, Posen installed large-scale photographs of his favorite models – namely Carolyn Murphy, Jourdan Dunn, Hilary Rhoda, and Lindsey Wixson – in his Fall/Winter 2017 looks. In a separate room, the exhibit also included a large silent video projection of the models moving about a room or a scene, wearing the same outfits they wore in the photographs. In an effort to connect with the public on more of an emotional level, Posen thought by documenting his pieces he could evoke a new level of authenticity and intimacy. Having a chance to intently observe the clothes, the composition, and of course the models definitely resulted in a different experience than when attempting to do the same at the speed of a traditional runway. Photographed by Vanina Sorrenti, the elegance of Posen’s eveningwear wasn’t lost in the two-dimensional format; the images truly afforded the viewer time to soak up all the beauty, a glass of champagne in one hand and a macaroon in the other.
The Zac Posen photography installation in New York (by Elizabeth Pantaleo for NOWFASHION)
Kanye West’s highly anticipated shows never do fit into the generic bucket of fashion week formats, but for his Yeezy Season 5 collection, the designer turned down the notch – at least compared to his previous huge, sometimes complicated, and overstated show productions. Guests crammed into a small, dark studio on Pier 59 eagerly awaiting what most imagined (or rightfully assumed) would be a long wait. Not so, surprisingly. As the show began (on time), projections of models were enlarged onto black curtains in front of each row of seats. They appeared to be backstage on a circular platform that rotated to give each guest a 360-degree angle of the look. A rather minimal concept in this day and age when one takes into account the possibilities of technology, but a striking and efficient idea nonetheless. The interaction with the collection was digital – as everything seems to be these days – but West decided the physical element had to be present, so the models ended up parading in the usual final walkthrough formation as expected.
Rag & Bone’s unconventional approach to a fashion show this season saw the designer Marcus Wainwright going back to his roots. Throwing what they deemed a “presentation party,” the team’s shift from moving models to a photographed collection felt timely and overdue, especially considering how tastefully they executed the concept. When asked why the designer opted out of a fashion show, Wainwright explained earnestly: “Quite honestly I woke up on the morning of the election and I thought, ‘we can’t do a fashion show’ – I didn’t really know why but it just didn’t feel right,” he admitted.
His tirade continued but reflected the change fashion week perhaps needs: “I’m happy we made that decision because it just seems odd in some way to do a show now – culturally, it just doesn’t’ feel relevant to me. It’s valid for other brands – but for us, it felt tone deaf to do a show. We’ve done 10 or 12 years of them and suddenly it doesn’t feel right. We didn’t start as a fashion brand. We started with a focus on craftsmanship and a desire to make clothes, then somehow, we became part of the fashion world. Right now it feels right to look back to where we started – to what we stand for. To the fabrics we always use, to the fact our clothes are made in Kentucky or New York or England, and how the jacket Michael Pitt is wearing, was based on my dad’s Savile Row jacket that first made me fall in love with clothing. I think it’s about clarifying what we’ve been doing.”
In a similar vein, Baja East invested in a presentation party of sorts, taking to Gilded Lily in the Meatpacking District at the late hour of 10pm (the latest show to take place on the entire NYFW schedule). In the hope of showcasing something a little more realistic, the design duo imagined how and where people would actually wear the pieces. The result? A booze-filled bash in a nightclub with models dressed in the new collection. In this case, it’s possible the party might have gotten the best of the presentation but in the end, the different approach made it all worthwhile and it felt like a fitting way to enjoy their Fall/Winter 2017 collection.
With all of the restlessness surrounding fashion week and the continuous expectation for more and for different, designers experimenting with new formats will continue to be fueled by social media’s evolving demands. But for now, the simple rule seems to be: anything goes.