At a time when runway shows and fashion campaigns are about making social or political commentary, there's a visible effort from the creative directors of fashion houses to make it into the paragraph that applauds "fashion with a conscious" in each fashion week review.
You might even say that this is the fashion week equivalent of the "beauty with a purpose" element of beauty pageants. And this goes beyond explicitly making a political statement during the runway show, as sometimes the sartorial goodwill happens behind the scenes by virtue of thoughtful collaboration.
For example, this New York Fashion Week, Pyer Moss founder Kerby-Jean Raymond - who often uses his label to make social commentary and celebrate black culture - released his latest collaborator for Collection 3; an ex convict who spent 45 years in jail for a crime he didn't commit, Richard Phillips.
In an Instagram post, Kerby-Jean explained how he "reached out to him after [KJR] heard he’d been painting incessantly and [KJR] commissioned him for Collection 3. [They] flew out to Detroit recently to hear his story first hand. Please show him all the love you show me."
And they said this industry is frivolous, huh?
Not when the 2020 consumer's purchases are influenced by brands' virtues and values, especially Generation Z fashion and beauty consumers, so it makes sense in terms of relevance and profit for labels to appeal to the future consumer that is already starting to realise their buying power now.
With that said, here are three more shows and presentations that observed the waves of political and social change around them and made them art:
A show I've dubbed "The Politics of Party Dressing", Nepalese immigrant Prabal Gurung's Spring 2020 collection not only stayed true to his label's party frock staple, but also addressed the U.S.' immigration laws head-on, officially naming his show Who Gets to Be an American? after a TIME Magazine coverline addressing the same subject matter. He told Vogue in an interview that the collection is "not one version of America, but my idea of America.”
The designer who declares that the Prabal Gurung woman “cares about fashion and she also cares about the world," presented a 10th anniversary collection characterised by a "soft pastel dreamscape" and blossoms - a whimsical backdrop for the pertinent question at hand.
Less political, but rather a salute to the modern working woman in all her dimensions, the Rebecca Minkoff presentation on 7 September was a true image of practical high-end fashion.
As a designer who's always centered working women in her collections, Rebecca Minkoff ensured that her Fall 2019 collection is at first size-inclusive, offering sizes from XXS to 3XXL. Secondly, by casting a breastfeeding mom for her show, it's clear that Rebecca set out to make an empowering contribution to the 'working mom' narrative.
The collection - which is already available to shop even in SA - is very aptly described on the website as follows;
"The collection delivers innovative separates that can be worn multiple ways featured in a vibrant color palette of sky blues, bright fuchsias, tomato reds, and sandy neutrals.
"The collection embodies sophistication without formality — where the traditional work uniform meets a free-spirited sensibility. Suiting has been updated with oversized silhouettes, slightly puffed shoulders and monochromatic separates. Shearling-lined blanket coats, metallic motos and oversized bombers complete the look with a built-in attitude that is both fierce and feminine."
Corporate dolls and freelancing creatives alike, will love this one.
Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya TOMMYNOW
There was no sociopolitical commentary made at this show either, but the models who walked this show were a clear display of what inclusivity in the fashion industry should have always looked like.
In March, Zendaya and Tommy Hilfiger presented a multigenerational, gender-inclusive and size-diverse cast of models for the Spring 2019 show, and they did it again at Sunday evening's show. Perhaps what can be said of this is that fashion might be progressing towards making inclusivity less of a performative event and more of a normalised and integral part of the game.
Still largely characterised by '70s silhouettes, this show had the likes of Halima Aiden, Winnie Harlow and 67-year-old model JoAni Johnson who also appeared in a Fenty ad campaign earlier this year.
Plus, see more visual moments we loved from NYFW so far:
Maybelline celebrates 10 years at NYFW
This September, Maybelline New York celebrates its 10th anniversary as Official Cosmetics Sponsor of New York Fashion Week with their most dynamic program yet, and they've already kicked off with a fresh faced look and strong pink pout at the L’Agence SS20 Presentation that was complemented further by Maybelline Spokesmodel, Emily DiDonato’s sun-kissed glow at the Daily Front Row Fashion Media Awards that night – both looks were created by Maybelline Lead Artist, Grace Lee.
Also part of Maybelline's festivities is local TV personality Ayanda Thabethe, who's getting an insider's look into key fashion events at New York Fashion Week.
Area scores an A-plus for their accessories
The New York-based label redefined ultra-glam in their Spring/Summer '20 with their face jewellery, and you know what - it doesn't look OTT. If ever you needed party or music festival inspo, punctuating your face with jewels is a good place to start.
Ralph Lauren presents "Ralph's Club"
With a live jazz band, a performance from a suited-up Janelle Monae, and even more women walking down the runway in either waistcoats or the tuxedo reimagined, with a sprinkle of sultry old Hollywood glam gowns too, I imagine the after party for this show was not short of rounds of Old Fashioned cocktails.
Images: Getty and others supplied.
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