1. Calvin Klein and Pyer Moss Were New York’s Showstoppers
New York is not a fashion week city traditionally known for its sets and productions. Aside from Marc Jacobs — who became known for his elaborate collection tableau before he stripped everything away except the audience’s folding chairs — the focus is typically on the product, not the performance. However, this season Raf Simons at Calvin Klein and Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss changed all that. Simons trucked in 50,000 gallons of popcorn from Chicago and filled the floor of the old American Stock Exchange building with the stuff, which piled up in drifts along the sides of four rickety barns, crunched under guests’s feet, and stuck to models’ shoes and prairie-dress-meets-hazmat-suits they wore down the runway. The effect was like a B-movie nuclear winter in a dream western town.
Jean-Raymond gathered together a celestial choir for one night only to provide a soaring live soundtrack of “Born in the USA” and “Home is Where the Hatred Is” and “Alright” for his urban ode to the black cowboy. Both backdrops framed collections that dealt with the American myth and modernity in different ways, giving them added emotional weight. The message was in the clothes, but also in the context. In both cases, they gave you something more to chew on. — VANESSA FRIEDMAN, fashion director, Styles
2. Carolina Herrera Had a Dramatic Final Bow
Fashion shows usually end with a designer popping out to offer a quick wave before retreating backstage. But at the end of Carolina Herrera’s New York show — her last at the design helm after 37 years — felt like something more closely resembling a holy experience. (Herrera will step into a role as global brand ambassador for the company.) Surrounded by members of her atelier in white lab coats, Herrera was met with an uproarious standing ovation from the audience. Wes Gordon, the brand’s new creative director, gave her an enormous bouquet of red roses. It was a bittersweet moment, and a historic one. — ISABEL WILKINSON, digital director, T magazine
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3. Designers Actually Fed Us This Season
Fashion month is an endurance test: The days are nonstop, with dozens of shows and several appointments in between. The grueling schedule often neglects time for basic necessities like food. So it was a welcome treat to showgoers that several designers revolved their shows around food this season.
The Pool Room, the upscale iconic New York restaurant that recently reopened, was a popular destination for designers such as Stuart Weitzman and Derek Lam; the latter encouraged guests to come before the show for a passed lunch of lobster rolls. Rosie Assoulin often has little treats at her presentations — but this season, she took it a step further by hiring the chef and food artist Laila Gohar to create elaborately playful installations of eggs and meringues that looked almost too beautiful to eat. Gabriela Hearst took it a step further and actually had a sit-down lunch at Cafe Altro Paradiso, while models walked around the tables, and in Paris, Kenzo replaced its runway show with a sit-down dinner with a food installation for its Memento collection. — MALINA JOSEPH GILCHRIST, style director, women’s, T magazine
4. Queen Elizabeth Attended Her First Catwalk Show in London
Mere celebrities are a dime a dozen on front rows. But when Queen Elizabeth II made a surprise appearance at the Richard Quinn show on the final day of London Fashion Week — her first, at the age of 91 — the news hit headlines all over the world. Coming less than 24 hours after the Duchess of Cambridge hosted a reception celebrating the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange initiative at Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty — in a duck egg blue Angela Kelly suit — had come to present Quinn with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design, honoring the designer as Britain’s brightest new fashion talent. She sat on a special blue velvet cushion next to Anna Wintour and noticeably giggled at the nods to her own personal style throughout the collection (think swing coats and silk head scarves, though she later said that the florals were her favorite part). Still, if we see the Queen stepping out in a motorcycle helmet or foil cape anytime soon, we’ll know where she got the idea. — ELIZABETH PATON, European correspondent, Styles
5. Christopher Bailey Bowed Out From Burberry Under a Rainbow
After 17 years as the creative head of Britain’s biggest and best-known luxury brand, Christopher Bailey waved farewell to Burberry on the Saturday of London Fashion Week with a big, bold technicolor show, opening with Adwoa Aboah in rainbow stripes on a white silk skirt and closing with Cara Delevingne in a giant rainbow faux-fur coat.
Called “Time,” the final collection meditated on many of Bailey’s greatest runway hits in all their many colors. It also ranged from evening wear to street wear, with the signature Burberry check splashed across trench coats and caps, T-shirts, puffer jackets and bags, including in a limited-edition rainbow-hued version, a symbol of the firm’s financial support for LGBTQ+ charities. At the end, a rainbow laser light show delighted a nostalgic crowd as they said goodbye to a British fashion era. (Burberry has announced that Riccardo Tisci will replace him; Bailey has not yet said what he will do next.)
When the standing ovation came, however, the applause was for the man himself. After a small bow to all four flanks of the vast room, and a kiss for his husband Simon, Bailey smiled, took a last turn on the Burberry runway, then walked out of sight. — E.P.
6. Puppies Replaced Purses in Milan
Accessories always play a major role in Milan Fashion Week — there are almost as many shoe and bag presentations as catwalk shows, from Guiseppe Zanotti’s rock-inspired stilettos and sneakers to Jimmy Choo’s pearls and platforms — but this season two catwalk shows took the whole thing to a different dimension. First, Alessandro Michele created a series of model cephalophores — models carrying replicas of their own heads instead of, say, tote bags — for his Gucci show, an image that launched a thousand memes. Then he mixed in some “dragon puppies,” which turned out to be little rubber baby dragons, for good measure. He even added a third eye in the middle of one model’s forehead, because — well, who knows what goes on in that head? Meanwhile, Tod’s, apparently inspired by the dragon puppies, or just cosmic coincidence, opted for real puppies, from cocker spaniels to bulldogs, cuddled by Gigi Hadid and company as they pranced down the runway. It gave new meaning to the term “Instagram moment.” But this might be one look you don’t want to replicate at home. — V.F.
7. Moncler Reinvented Its Classic Down Jacket
The foreign press arrived in Milan a day before the official start of fashion week to view the unveiling of the new era of Moncler. The Italian-based brand, best know for its outerwear, has launched a new strategy: It hired eight designers to reinterpret the brand’s ethos — and its iconic down jacket.
Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli gave the brand’s signature piece a sculptural treatment, with hooded garments magnificently tall and exaggerated, while Simone Rocha, inspired by Victorian alpine hikers, remade the down jacket with romantic details like ruffles, pearls and micro-florals. The London-based designer Craig Green created samurai-padded protective suits and jackets, while the Japanese designer Kei Ninomiya, of the line Noir Kei Ninomiya, worked with an all-black palette adding woven details. Their designs, along with four from other houses, are a part of Moncler’s so-called “Genius” Project — and will be in stores as soon as next month, and run throughout the year. — M.J.G.
8. Kenzo Supplied a Feast — and Showed Wearable Works of Art
When Humberto Lim and Carol Leon commit, they commit hard. For their third “La Collection Memento” for Kenzo — a kind of capsule collection — they took as their inspiration the post-Impressionist painter Henri Rousseau. Fair enough. Kenzo Takada, the house’s namesake Kenzo, is a fan. So Rousseau’s paintings showed up on sweaters, and his forest colors gave a backbone to their collection. So far, so good. For their presentation, they plied editors with groaning boards of fruits and vegetables (pineapple, pomegranate, radicchio with citrus), the kind of lush tableau Monsieur Rousseau might have appreciated.
Had it been only this, it would have been enough. But Lim and Leon commissioned Gary Card, the genius London set-maker/sculptor/costume designer, to render some of Rousseau’s jungle scenes as three-dimensional wearable works of art: moving dioramas and model-size puppets, complete with prowling cats. They were a hoot. The fact that the models wearing them could barely fit down the aisles, and, visibility compromised, ended up wandering slightly lost around the perimeter, only tipped the thing into the sublime. — MATTHEW SCHNEIER, deputy fashion critic and reporter, Styles
9. Paris’s Most Promising Almost-Debut
Slow and steady is not fashion’s preferred speed. But Kei Ninomiya, who began as a pattern-maker for Comme des Garçons and was eventually granted his own line, Noir, under its umbrella, began just that way. For seasons, he has shown quietly, at unglamorous, early-morning presentations at Comme des Garçons’ showroom, to a handful of enraptured editors and retailers who knew enough to seek him off the grid. His elaborate, exquisitely worked pieces were worth it: They seemed to burst into bloom. This season, Ninomiya got a full-size show of his own — and it was well worth the wait. He has the singularity of focus and finish to earn his place in the Comme des Garçons universe, but an organic, feminine sensibility that is all his own. All black, of course. And pretty tough. It may have been the week’s most promising (not quite) debut. — M.S.
10. Fashion Partied With the French President
On the penultimate day of the whole show circus, French President Emmanuel Macron turned his opération séduction — or charm offensive — on the fashion world, inviting approximately 100 designers of all nationalities and stages of business to the gilded ballroom of the Élysée to eat oysters and gratin dauphinois (among other things), schmooze and take as many selfies as they desired. “Chose France!” he said in a welcome toast, urging all creative forces to make their home in his country before perambulating around the room with his wife, Brigitte, who made her own toast noting her adjustment to the constant question: “What are you wearing?” (Louis Vuitton frock coat was the answer that night.)
Sarah Burton came straight from her Alexander McQueen show; Haider Ackermann flew back after dressing Timothee Chalamet for the Oscars;Olivier Rousteing of Balmain hobnobbed with Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino. Natacha Ramsay-Levi of Chloé introduced herself to Clare Waight Keller, formerly of Chloé, now of Givenchy. Alber Elbaz huddled with Vivenne Westwood. And Stella McCartney FaceTimed her father, Sir Paul, so he could chat with the President. It was the first time the doors of the presidential palace had been open to the industry at large since François Mitterrand was in office in the 1980s, and it worked like a — well, charm. — V.F.