I can still remember a time when New York Fashion Week was considered somewhere between safe and dull-as-dishwater in the fashion week creativity stakes, to the extent that an American businessman - faceless, but with bottomless pockets - paid to ship out Alexander McQueen's A/W 1996 'Dante' collection to add a bit of spice to the staid schedule. As Gareth Pugh commented in an interview with me earlier this year, those days of blockbuster big-budget fash-travaganzas are over. And so too are the days of New York representing fashion's creative doldrums. The New York collections for S/S 2011 are as highly-anticipated as any of the fashion capitals - and Contributing Fashion Writer Indigo Clarke will be providing inimitable catwalk coverage for SHOWstudio.com over the next week or so.
Perhaps I have been coloured by an impressionable teenage decade where Messrs Galliano and McQueen and Dame Westwood reigned supreme, reading home-grown journalism so biased and patriotic it makes 'Rule Britannia' sound like a rallying-cry to a single currency agreement. There have always been great designers in New York - Calvin Klein's Minimalism marked the nineties, Ralph Lauren has had a turnover equivalent to a (not so small) African nation for decades, and Marc Jacobs' creativity was never in question. This is the designer, after all, who as a young upstart reinvented the notion of vintage from a flea-market anti-fashion statement to arguably the single unifying designer movement of the past fifteen years. His show takes place Monday evening - and, as with the last five seasons, it will no doubt be bang-on time.
Marc Jacobs' show is always a high-point of the week - but he's New York establishment now, albeit with the ability to still ruffle a few feathers. In fact, scratch that, he's the fashion establishment, his show is the most eagerly-awaited of the American fashion capital and one that sets both the tone and the pace for the season ahead. Jacobs can never be predicted - after a Spring season inspired by theatre and opera for his own label and grungy New Age travellers at his other design post, Louis Vuitton, for winter he switched pace to serene ultra-classicism and va-va-voom voluptuousness respectively. We can only wait with baited breath to see what his febrile imagination will conjure up this time.
If Jacobs is now establishment, the young guns of NYC are now lead by Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler - their label is now almost a decade old, but they still head up the charge. Last season they looked back to the nineties, fresh stomping-ground also picked up on by their contemporaries, fired with their nostalgic memories of teenage years and a healthy jolt of cinematic license. Look at Alexander Wang, the other hot new label in NYC that has already begun to turn his name into a megabrand for the new millennium. Personally, I'm most interested and excited to see the latest offerings from Joseph Altuzarra, a French-born New York-based name with an eye for detail and a taste for dark luxury. Last season was Edward Scissorhands, the season before Little House On The Prairie. Unpredictable is never a term bandied about much in New York fashion, but it feels especially appropriate now.
Our Collections coverage of New York Fashion Week - and the S/S 2011 season as a whole - begin today