In New York, money makes the world go round. Back in May, Balenciaga sent out stacks of fake money as invites to their off-schedule show held in the New York Stock Exchange in line with creative director Demna's usual penchant for playing on consumerist traits - selling $1,790 trash bags and such. As the Big Apple gears up for the S/S 23 womenswear season this September 8-14, designers will once again be expected to walk the line between consumerism and creativity. New York Fashion Week has a reputation for picking wearability, and sellability, over artistic expression, but with the eclectic stylings of Marni's Francesco Risso making the jump from Milan to join a roster of artistically-inclined downtown designers, together with a special NFT initiative, a Fendi Baguette bag special and Peter Do’s menswear debut, this season there's everything to play for.
NFTs: UNLOCKING FASHION WEEK
Non-fungible tokens, so we meet again. As digital fashion in the metaverse continues to heat up, with luxury brands including Gucci and Balenciaga having led the charge into the space over the past two years, NFTs are fast becoming a bonafide component of how brands communicate and connect with consumers. This season, BNPL provider Afterpay is partnering with brands including Jonathan Simkhai, who took part in Metaverse Fashion Week New York, together with Joseph Altuzarra and The Blonds to create custom-made 'Keys to NYFW' NFTs. These unique digital assets will act as a porthole for owners into exclusive experiences during fashion week, also gaining them access to one-of-a-kind products. Unique access is a key driver for NFTs in both the fashion and art worlds, creating a membership of sorts which drives consumer allegiance. Whilst as many jump on the bandwagon as mere marketing ploys, NFTs also hold the potential for creative innovation in the digital realm as brands expand their visual worlds. Watch this space.
THE TRAVELLING CIRCUS: FENDI AND MARNI
'These guys weren't just after money anymore, they were after fashion', Carrie Bradshaw wailed after a robber demanding she hand over her Fendi Baguette bag in the third season of Sex and the City. The iconic 90s shoulder bag - which has undergone a cultural renaissance in recent years, becoming a hotly in-demand vintage re-sale accessory piece - celebrates its 25th birthday this year. To mark the cultural occasion, Silvia Venturini Fendi - who designed the original Baguette with the late Karl Lagerfeld - and Kim Jones, Fendi's current womenswear and couture artistic director, will be leaving their base in Milan for a special show in the place where dreams are made of. Having undergone a revamp in recent years across both men's and women's collections, we expect the Fendi Baguette to land with a bang in NYC, celebrating both its history and future in the arm candy sphere. If that's not enough to get you worked up, supermodel Linda Evangelista made her fashion comeback with a special post teasing the show modelling a sequin pair of baguettes, so fingers crossed she'll be back with her first runway appearance since Dior's 60th-anniversary show in 2008.
Tune into SHOWstudio's live panel discussion this Sunday 14:00 BST.
Marni will also be making a trip across the Atlantic to kick off their recently announced world tour, under the creative direction of Francesco Risso. Fans of the brand will remember Marni's immersive, real-time fashion film Marnifesto released during lockdown which invited viewers into the private rooms and public locale's of the global Marni community. Working once again with creative director Babak Radboy, it will be interesting to see the community-based premise of this hybrid physical-virtual event come full circle and land in physical form, all in the name of human connection. An event, details of which are yet to be disclosed, will be accompanied by events in Marni's three retail spaces in the city. Following an outdoor dinner party fantasia and woodland rave for A/W 22, we can expect another all-encompassing experience from fashion's pied piper this season.
AMERICA'S FUTURE: PETER DO
'For New York-based design group Peter Do, a collective vision powers their evolution forward. This ethos guided their runway show’s concepts, rooted in family-first values, to consider fragments of past, present and (what will be) future memories', SHOWstudio's fashion critic M-C Hill wrote of the fast-rising brand who made their runway debut last year. Do does the wearable clothes American fashion does best, but with a much-craved level of interest. Red-stitched seams, fish-scale sequins, floral embroideries, louche satin trench coats and pleating provide all the ingredients for the put-together woman Do makes us all want to be, having cut his teeth under Phoebe Philo at Céline after winning the LVMH Graduate Prize. Now, there's the Peter Do man to consider too. The designer recently told the Financial Timess HTSI,'You can just wrap however you would like to wrap it, you know? It’s so silly that people have bound this garment in a specific way', promising a shared luxury wardrobe with staple items re-tailored for a more gender-fluid fit.
AMERICA ALL GROWN UP: PROENZA SCHOULER
Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez were crowned New York's fashion darlings long ago when their Parson’s graduate collection was bought by Barney’s department store in 2002 - at the time the ultimate New York fashion seal of approval. Americana, contemporary art, custom fabrics, tailoring and conceptual winks have remained part of Proenza Schouler's DNA ever since, seen on muses including Liv Tyler, Laura Dern and Chloë Sevigny. In recent years, however, sales stalled due to a diluted brand message owing to sub-lines and a brief move to the couture schedule in Paris, and of course, the pandemic. Having undergone an internal re-shuffle following an investor fall out, with a new CEO in place the brand are expanding on sales outside the US and are well on their way to financial growth once more. With one A Magazine Curated By, a J. Brand denim collaboration, five CFDA awards and inclusion in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology exhibition under their belt, it's not the brand's legacy that's up for debate, rather their future.
NEW YORK'S DOWNTOWN CULT
With luxury giants like Gabriela Hearst, Michael Kors and Tom Ford also on the schedule, this season the downtown, art scene designers represent the other side to the coin of New York fashion. Collina Strada, who puts climate awareness at the heart of their eclectic brand, showed a digital-hybrid presentation last season which featured AR avatars created with Yahoo. Here's hoping Strada will shake up the system once more. Offering an equally surreal dose of fashion are Puppets and Puppets, founded in 2018 by Carly Mark and Ayla Argentina. Trained in fine-art, Mark - who now runs the brand solo - has brought 18th century costume, carrot-trimmed handbags, egg crate shoes and Caroline Polachek to their performance-focused runway shows. Sold commercially for the first time for A/W 21, things are becoming a tad more wearable, but haven't lost their unique avant-garde spirit.
Just as Do has Proenza Schouler, Strada and Mark have Eckhaus Latta. Design duo and couple Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta paved the way for the unexpected in American fashion today. Staging the first fashion exhibition at the Whitney Museum in 2018, since founding the label over 10 years ago the LVMH Prize-nominated brand have always looked beyond the commercial. Trained in sculpture and textile design, Eckhaus and Latta are artistically, rather than product inclined, which is no bad thing - the brand remains an independent label with a thriving e-commerce business and two physical stores. Their A/W 22 show celebrated a decade of the brand's penchant for craft and the creative community they've built, with a cast including Hari Nef and Paloma Elsesser wearing staple handmade knitwear woven into jeans and tucked into sequin skirts, with billowing trousers and puzzle piece coats offering something for everyone.