Subtle glamour and thinly veiled allure kicked off this year’s New York Fashion Week as designers around New York prepared to unveil their ready to wear spring/ summer collection. With primarily black, white, lilac, and skin tone hues, Tom Ford identified his Spring 2019 collection as an antithesis of his previous spring line. Ford pulled back from the latest trends in fashion and focused on his signature technique that led his transcendence in the 90’s. In an attempt to strip womenswear of its prevalent vulnerability, he played on the juxtaposition of hard-soft pieces combining faux alligator jackets with lace skirts and fringe dresses. Ford’s downplay on fashion’s latest current can be explained in a statement he issued at the end of his show; “I feel that fashion has somehow lost its way a bit, and it is easy for all of us to be swept up in trends that have lost touch with what women and men want to actually wear.” Ford also noted, “I think fashion has gone as far as it can possibly go into the irony world. It’s in danger of making so much fun of itself that it’s going to be hard to pull it back and to pull the consumer back.” It feels as if Ford is urging the industry (himself included) to take fashion more seriously in order to safeguard the future of industry in its entirety.
Furthermore, social consciousness played a pivotal role in this year’s New York Fashion Week. For example, Prabal Gurung’s vibrant show featured his collection at the Spring Studios under multi-colored prayer flags hanging from the ceiling. The inspiration for color block shirts and hourglass dresses, which is Gurung’s S/S 2019 line, was predicated on his native, Nepal and expanded as he took a “cross cultural journey.” He defined his collection as a “cross cultural journey, one that one sees no borders, tied together through our ability to use color as a universal language.” With each garment constructed to reflect the colors of a different country’s flag, Gurung assisted in raising social awareness as he presented his collection on models ranging in race and color. This show also marked the debut of his menswear line. Primarily a womenswear designer, Gurung quoted under his Instagram post "now more than ever, traditional genders, roles, and identifiers are breaking down in our multifaceted world, and while designing menswear has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, I needed a sign that gave me strength and courage to take this leap of faith.”
Laquan Smith based his S/S 2019 womenswear portion of his collection on the question: “What would she wear while she is on the go committing her crimes all out of fun?” He opened his show with dresses, blouses, skirts, jackets, and button up shirts created with vintage mugshot prints of women who were arrested; the chief among them being the late Rosa Parks.
Lastly, Kerby Jean Raymond partnered with rising black artist, Derrick Adams, to complete his spring/ summer 2019 collection for Pyer Moss. Ten of Adams paintings were stitched into individual pieces of his collection. With Raymond pondering what “the African American experience would be like without the constant threat of racism,” he constructed pieces of black art clothing such as the image of a black father joyously holding his baby embroidered into a shimmered curve hugging dress; and the image of black man grilling burgers printed on a t-shirt as a rebuttal to the early May incident where a white woman called the police on a black man casually barbequing in a community park. He showcased this collection at the Weeksville Heritage Center in Weeksville Brooklyn, New York; which happens to be one of the country’s first free black communities following the abolishment of slavery. When questioned at the fashion show after-party barbeque about his collaboration with FUBU (For Us By Us) for this year’s fashion week, he stated, “These companies grossed hundreds of millions in their prime, but weren’t recognized in the same way that brands like Donna Karan were because they were considered urban, not fashion.”