All of the STEM emphasis in public schools may be starting to pay off. The new owners of New York Fashion Week finally have the math skills to figure out that a week is more or less seven days. This year it’s eight, or seven days and a few hours, sort of a leap week, which is way more on point than previous fashion “weeks” which have ranged from five to ten days.
Perhaps it’s just that Fashion Week was recently bought by entertainment and sports marketing powerhouse, WME-IMG, and they have a more disciplined approach to time than the fashionistas formerly in charge. Whether or not that’s true, WME-IMG’s interest in Fashion Week is, in and of itself, fascinating. The “WM” in the name is the William Morris agency, historically one of the heavy hitters in Hollywood and IMG is a leader in marketing sports and sports figures. A few months ago they sucked up Fashion Week and just a couple of days ago, bought Donald Trump’s beauty pageants. They are nothing if not inclusive in their idea of what constitutes entertainment.
What I find most ironic about Fashion Week’s rise in entertainment value is it’s corresponding descent in it’s original purpose as a trade show for the American garment business. Back before anyone had ever heard of it, fashion week in its lower case days was critical to the economies of American cities as small or smaller than Mount Airy all the way up to New York. Now that it has achieved upper case status and is big doings worldwide, it represents an industry that basically doesn’t exist anymore. Like a lot of other things these days, it’s mostly sizzle and very little steak.
But oh, that sizzle is intoxicating. If you’ve been caught up with the opening of the NFL season and not had much time to keep up with NYFW, let me catch you up.
Opening Ceremony, always a trendsetter, hitched on to an unlikely trend this season. Falling models. As models and shoes alike have become increasingly spindly and unstable in the past few years, runway falls have become more common. It even happens to the top girls. Check out some of the YouTube compilation videos if you are of a particularly sadistic nature. They’re hilarious. And heartbreaking.
So Opening Ceremony put a few ringers on their catwalk from New York City Ballet. Clever move. Only ballerinas are skinny enough to pass for fashion models. Then in the middle of the show, they all started to fall. On purpose. They were dropping like flies and audience members were trying to help them up and before anyone figured out what was happening, the ballerinas gracefully rose up and began to dance. This probably has some socially significant deep important meaning but I don’t know what it is. I’m sure it was entertaining though.
Kanye West’s second collection for his “Yeezey” line was exactly like his first. The first one, in which a great many people were basically naked on a stage, managed to not be the “Emperor’s New Clothes” and be more of a thought provoking, post-apocalyptic something or other that was new, edgy and cool. A tough act to pull off but he did it.
But the one thing you don’t ever do in a fashion show is exactly what you did last time. You can do anything else in the world that you want to do but not that. Still, Kanye did it. Why? No one seems to know. Is the emperor out of clothes or ideas? Hard to say.
One big trend that came as a bit of a surprise was monks. Yes, apparently the next big thing is going to be Buddhist monks. Prabal Gurung had at least 30 in their show. Reportedly, the Dalai Lama helped round them up from a monastery in one of the outer boroughs. Imagine being on the same subway car as they made their way home.
Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy, showing in New York for the first time, also wanted monks but sadly, could only find one. This is just one of those things that only happens during Fashion Week. When was the last time there was a monk shortage in the NFL or at the Miss Universe Pageant? I would guess never.
Designers have been taking a lot of flak in recent years for using underage, anorexic models and championing a body type that even for winners of the genetic lottery can only be maintained with a strict regimen of cocaine and cigarettes. No one is sorry to see that go. Well, almost no one. Victoria Beckham still likes her models to have that “lean and hungry look.” But really, who in the world ever thought the alternative was going to be monks? Certainly, not me.
Fashion is unique in that it is the only place where “trickle down” actually works. Some of that kooky stuff on the runways does actually end up in stores where normal people shop after it’s been watered down and made palatable for the mass market. So the next time you’re rooting through the clearance rack, you might be be clutching something inspired by a ballerina fall or a monk’s catwalk debut. Now that’s entertainment.
Bill Colvard is lifestyles writer for the Mount airy News and can be reached at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.