Social media and spectacle reign supreme in 2016
By Faith Hope Consolo
Photographs courtesy of designers
New York Fashion Week is searching for a new identity, reinventing itself yet again. The eight-day event is a marathon of runway shows, launches and after-parties galore. It’s attended by designers, buyers, media celebrities, influencers and others sometimes hard to identify; I fit in somewhere in between as the Queen of Retail and I tell the world where to shop. Here is a snapshot of the scene, a peek inside one of NYC’s most glamorous events. All eyes are on NYFW as it drives the trends and is the heartbeat of fashion’s elite.
High Fashion History
New York Fashion Week, held annually twice a year in February and September, is a series of events where international fashion collections are shown to buyers, the press and now to the general public. It is one of four major fashion weeks in the world, known as the “Big Four”: New York, London, Milan and Paris. The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in 1993 created the modern notion of a centralized “New York Fashion Week” which has consisted of numerous branded events, such as Olympus Fashion Week New York, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York and MADE Fashion Week, and many independent fashion productions around the city. Producers of New York Fashion Week include IMG and FTL Moda, in conjunction with Fashion Week Online.
Let’s look at the last decade of NYFW.
2006, called Olympus Fashion Week, at New York’s Bryant Park in midtown and designers would show their collections at the “tents.”
2007, Mercedes-Benz was the main sponsor of fashion week, and for me it was a luxury match made in heaven.
2008 & 2009 was the great change in the traditional fashion week; the coveted front rows traditionally reserved for editors now included celebrities, fashion bloggers and influencers.
2010, Fashion Week moved from Bryant Park to Lincoln Center. It was bigger in size, but many found it logistically complicated. Designers started to show independently downtown and initiated the shift.
2011, the live stream took front and center, and the entire world could be involved instantly and interact.
2012, traditional runway show vs. the presentation became the dynamic. There have always been some designers who preferred the presentation format, but more designers seem to have come on board; moving from Lincoln Center left the shows without a central location. It would take longer to travel between venues for traditional runway shows, and presentations are easier to photograph, letting viewers see clothing up close, and no seating charts.
2013, 2014, 2015, social media reigned supreme. We could see behind the scenes, feel connected with the models, follow our favorite celebrities and bloggers and see what they see. Every single makeup product and hair trend revealed. MADE Fashion Week, formed by smaller designers who showed downtown during the Lincoln Center time, is now at the forefront of fashion week. These shows were at Milk Studios in the Meatpacking District.
2016, live streaming has become the norm, and customers can shop the collections straight from the runway, and shows take place everywhere in the city: galleries, restaurants, streets, hotels, rooftops, studios, outdoors … anything goes.
NYFW, Fall 2016 showing Spring 2017
Here are some highlights: early shows on Wednesday, September 7th, included a couple of the week’s most sought-after: Kanye West showed his Yeezy collection at Roosevelt Island, and Tom Ford reopened the famed Four Seasons for a fabulous dinner party to debut his women’s and men’s fall 2016 collections that could be purchased immediately. Models walked an elevated stage built around the dinner tables — a spectacular show. The official “season” started Thursday, September 8th, with more than 130 runway shows and presentations, not to mention events. Opening day started with Nicholas K and Thakoon.
My weekend kicked off with a real carnival, Tommy Pier by Tommy Hilfiger, Alexander Wang and Altuzarra. Sunday morning was Victoria Beckham’s SS17 collection in the Financial District who started her show with moment of silence for 9/11; appropriate, beautiful and elegant, just like her.
Ralph Lauren on September 14th introduced a second fall collection, his “September Collection,” which customers were able to shop right on the spot after its runway debut. This is a second fall collection in addition to the one he showed earlier in February. The show was right outside the Ralph Lauren Mansion on Madison Avenue and was a “showstopper” for sure!
Marc Jacobs, on September 15th, is always the last show. His theatrics are always full blown; every tiny detail draws you in, from the crazy sets to the music to the supermodel parade to the pastel dreadlocks. A twinkling nightclub is really the best way to describe this venue.
Let’s Break Down the Locations
I preferred when Fashion Week was centralized for planning purposes, but I must say the constant change of venue and presentation format was dizzying yet exciting. Much like shopping itself, Fashion Week is a super sport. The “official” venues were Skylight Studios at Clarkson Square and another massive Skylight Space at Moynihan Station, in the old main post office, directly across from Penn Station. Challenging entrances and a bit of controlled chaos were all around, but one must remember the attendees are as important as the designs. The Hammerstein Ballroom was Marc Jacobs’ stage. Tory Burch moved her September 13th show to the Whitney Museum on Gansevoort Street.
Sadly, some of my favorites didn’t show this season; Diane von Furstenberg, Kate Spade and Derek Lam did exclusive showings with editors and buyers, and the Calvin Klein show was on hiatus, undergoing a designer transition from Francisco Costa to Raf Simmons. Private shows to escape the chaos.
Technology is the Real Star
Invites had bar codes, and at some shows PR staffs compare your face to images they have on digital seating charts. Most of the major designers had live coverage of their shows through their websites live streaming. I know during the day, several members of my own staff had runway shows streaming so I could catch coverage as I came in and out of my offices. The major venues, Skylight at Moynihan Station and Made Studios, live streamed all the shows from those locations. Major fashion publications and bloggers live-streamed shows, including www.VogueRunway.com, fashionista.com, New York Fashion Week Live (http://newyorkfashionweeklive.com/) and www.fashiontimes.com. Not to mention these are great ways to go back and create your list of what to purchase! I used this as my catalog. I personally loved that Michael Kors joined the “wearable technology revolution” by introducing his new watch where you can customize the watch faces by choosing color and style to match your outfits.
The Season of “See Now, Buy Now”
One of the biggest trends of NYFW was “ready to wear, ready to go” fashion. Instead of having a traditional six-month wait between a runway show and collections arriving in the store, luxury brands showcased Fall 2016 collections that would be available for retail immediately. Designers show clothes available in stores now instead of presenting their visions for next season. That means that even though these collections are still being called the Spring/Summer 2017 Collections, a number of the collections will focus on fall or include fall items showcasing looks that will be available for customers to buy right away. For example, Hilfiger fans will be able to shop immediately after the show both online and at retail stores. Rebecca Minkoff shut down Greene Street in front of her Soho boutique for her Fall 2016 “Runway to Retail” show. Pedestrian traffic was allowed, allowing anyone to stop, see, and buy what they saw on the runway in a range of sizes directly following the show. Customers jammed the store, and it was a sellout event!
Shows that Mixed it Up
Tommy Pier by Tommy Hilfiger was a big carnival at the South Street Seaport’s Pier 16, complete with food, games, a temporary tattoo salon, record store, and a 40-foot Ferris wheel. “Tommy X Gigi Collection” was unveiled. Pop-up shops were selling fall Hilfiger merchandise. The September 9th runway show was for 2,000 invited guests, including 1,000 clients who are part of the online Hilfiger Club, and was live-streamed on Tommy.com. His Spring/Summer 2017 Collection was introduced during private appointments with select editors and buyers. But most importantly, shoppers looked at the Fall 2016 — not Spring/Summer 2017 collection — the here and the now.
NYFW’s Impact on How the World Shops
Big economic impact: New York Fashion Week is estimated at $900 million. The real luxury is getting something quickly that is a luxury in itself … the new fashion week said it all!
Faith Hope Consolo is Chairman of Douglas Elliman’s Retail Group in New York. Recognized worldwide as the “Queen of Retail,” Consolo is renowned for her expertise as a consultant and retail broker who has been instrumental in revitalizing and sculpting retail corridors across the nation and beyond. Her client base includes top-tier fashion names as Buccellati, Ivanka Trump, Cartier, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Giorgio Armani, Fendi and Yves Saint Laurent. She is responsible for the most successful commercial division of New York City’s largest residential real estate brokerage firm.