The time is nigh: New York Fashion Week has officially begun, and hence our coverage of the A/W 2011 womenswear collections. Officially, it actually began yesterday - but our first show of the season is the latest from much-fêted, Mobama-dressing Jason Wu, which takes places in roughly two hours (of course, in fashion time, that means four).
It's fascinating to see the exuberance and enthusiasm New York is eliciting this season. Its place at the start of a four-capital two-continent marathon march through the fashion world probably helps that. I for one find it much more difficult to wax lyrical about the delights of the transseasonal trouser after a hundred or so shows (although be prepared for plenty of proselytising of A/W 2011's key looks come London Fashion Week from me).
What's also interesting right now is how that enthusiasm is not only reflected in hyperbolic journalism, but in cold hard cash. Take, for instance, the announcement that Joseph Altuzarra made a cool four million dollars in sales for 2010. I am unashamedly an Altuzarra fan - and I'll tell you for why: he has a vision, he has technical know-how, and he's got balls. It takes a hell of a lot of confidence for any designer to trick out the kind of clothes Altuzarra has been creating, nevermind so early in his career. It also takes guts to buy that vision (and, as I said last season, perhaps even more to wear it). Of all the shows in New York, his is the one I am most chagrined to miss. It's also one I wouldn't like to second-guess - although doubtless it will be expounding the power-dressing confidence that has stamped its mark so assertively across his aesthetic to date.
Assertion. Confidence. Power. Sometimes I think my reviews sound a little like an eighties cliché (I do have a long-standing love of Claude Montana but that's a long long discussion for another time and place) but for me that power is what fashion is all about. Vivienne Westwood once said 'You have a much better life if you wear impressive clothes.' She's made enough of them, so she should know. That's also why I prefer Autumn/Winter to Spring: when the art director Marc Ascoli asked me why, I confessed that I wasn't that enamoured with brainless little chiffon frocks or bikinis on the catwalk. I'm a fan of tailoring, of sharpness, of a hardness even - I just mistyped that as 'harness' - I'm a fan of one of those too, in the hands of the right designer (more Montana homage methinks). I also think the brevity of the A/W season leads designers to make decisions faster, and often better. There's no time to over-consider ideas. For fall, fashion has to go with its gut. That's what I'm looking forward to seeing, albeit from afar, this New York Fashion Week.