Modern Luxury’s VP of Fashion and Creative Director, James Aguiar, shares with us his unfiltered thoughts about this year’s New York Fashion Week.
When it comes to this season’s Spring Summer collections shown during what has become known as #NYFW, there seems to be an emerging identity crisis.
There were clothes a-plenty and spectacle shows to be sure, even some with new ideas and definite emotion. However, fashion—which has always held a mirror to society and culture—might be cracking, ever so slightly.
The packed calendar featured impossibly far-flung locations that were impossible to reach in time, and one had to pick and choose as carefully as their requisite #OOTHD (if that’s still a thing).
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What was left were the haves and the have-nots; the intrepid journalists and buyers and editors who have to attend almost everything for relationships both personal and professional, and the influencers who spend hours getting ready just to teeter on impossible heels in the pouring rain or inhumane humidity all to get the perfect #streetstyle shot. (Is that still a thing?)
While this all adds to the charged excitement and the carnival that fashion week is known for, I was left wondering: who is “minding the store?” Mainly, when the circus leaves town and the editors, buyers and influencers leave for the next stop, what will we be wearing?
I found myself on more than one occasion looking not at the studied looks of the influencer flaunting for the cameras but at the bystanders staring in awe at what they witnessed. It was as if they were watching a film—or better yet, a real-life episode of Emily in Paris—or in this case, Emily in New York.
"I could never wear that,” they seemed to think, or “I want to be her.” I felt the way I do watching an episode of And Just Like That… safely curled up on the sofa in comfortable “easy” pants and a T-shirt, dog on my lap and ice cream in hand, saying, “This looks great, but do people really look like this?”
Ultimately, this season raised the question, “Is fashion for everyone?”
And the answer is “yes!”
I’m often asked, “What are the trends?” and it’s a query that confuses me. We are well beyond the designer dictating what we wear head to toe, but we still need the runway—and now the influencers—to point a divining rod toward what could be.
The good news is, on the runway and on the streets, there is indeed something for everyone.
I found myself gravitating to the original thinker on the street and the collections that packed a personal touch.
Phillip Lim showed his 3.1 collection after four years away from the runway, and the pandemic forced him and his studio to rethink it all. He did, and it showed in his excellent collection, which was itself a triumph in its love for New York and fashion as well. His hoodie, emblazoned with what could replace the iconic I ❤️ NY with the simple phrase NY Lover, was brief, to the point, and it looked fantastic.
Jason Wu created a new take on glamour with fraying edges and deliberate deconstruction that looked fresh and exciting.
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Joseph Altuzarra was creating a lady-like silhouette that seemed dare I say, “appropriate.”
Downtown Sally Lapointe made quite the case for street style as she literally closed the streets for her models who stormed the catwalk in her signature edgy glam before an actual storm took place.
Wes Gordon at Carolina Herrera continues to move the brand forward with confidence and ease.
I saw terrific takes on denim, and gorgeous yellow dresses seemed to be everywhere. There were prints galore and sheer, sheer, sheer that always gets bought with more modesty in mind.
On the emotional side of things, there was Phillip Lim’s tearful bow, and Michael Kors’ show in Domino Park, which overlooked the Manhattan skyline on a somber September 11 morning. There was no doubt that the city reflected behind the show was the real star.
There were anniversaries to celebrate Stuart Vevers’ 10 years at Coach (briefly interrupted by activists protesting the use of leather); and Christian Siriano celebrating 15 years at The Pierre Hotel with a star-studded, wildly diverse front row cheering him on, including Janet Jackson, Quinta Brunson, Rupaul's Drag race winner Sasha Colby, Actresses Lauren Linney, Alicia Silverstone and Sarah Hyland—plus a surprise performance by SIA. It was star wattage that designers only dream about.
Back at the Brooklyn Navy yard, The King himself, Ralph Lauren, returned to the official NY fashion calendar to show us how it’s all done. The celebrity factor was amped just a bit by Jennifer Lopez, Julianne Moore, Mindy Kaling, Diane Keaton and more in attendance.
Perhaps the slyest take came from Colina Strada, whose AI-designed collection and models with plastered fake smiles were both hilarious and terrifying. This cultural commentary and playful juxtaposition is what fashion does best, and if the mirror is indeed cracking its houses like Colina Strada that will be the first ones to tell us.
See more of Aguiar's NYFW 2023 adventures on Instagram.
Photography by: Joe Schildhorn, BFA.com