Models splashed in a lagoon surrounded by a sandy boardwalk to end Tommy Hilfiger’s ode to easy island life. Looking to add some youthful oomph to the heritage brand, Hilfiger built a wooden boardwalk ringed by sand, hung a hammock and constructed a tiki bar in front of a faux sunset. He sent his models out in multicolored hats and billowy dresses adorned with flora and fauna inspired by textile artist Josef Frank.
The idea was to vibe off the Caribbean’s Mustique, a playground for rock stars and royalty. And to pay attention to young customers. A limited-edition silk bomber jacket embroidered with a lion on the back was made available for purchase instantaneously. “We basically went back to our roots and made that relevant for today. We decided to really look at our DNA and celebrate who we are as a brand,” Hilfiger said in a backstage interview before the show. “When we started doing that our business just took off again. We elevated everything: the quality, the fit, and we really focused on listening to the customer.” With new designers sprouting and social media offering a quicker road to success, Hilfiger said his focus is clear. “Fun, youthful, unique and memorable. It keeps us really on our toes. We should never become complacent, never sit back and relax. We have to keep thinking of the next, the newest, the next, the newest,” he said. Among the top models on hand in bikinis to help that happen was Gigi Hadid as Victoria Secret’s Behati Prinsloo romped on the front row before showtime in one of the company’s new bomber jackets. Joe Jonas was there, along with Princess Beatrice of York. On the runway, Hilfiger reinvented the traditional cricket sweater in crochet and polos in netted mesh. T-shirt dresses were done in multicolored leather and traditional Oxford shirts were treated to some patchwork trim. And for the feet? Comfy, colored mules all around.
Pop-art explosion at Jeremy Scott
Jeremy Scott’s fertile pop-art imagination and affection for the outrageous in fashion were on full display Monday at a high-octane, high volume show that melded elements as diverse as “Star Trek,” John Waters movies and Jackson Pollock. The colors – bright, varied, and bold – popped off the runway as models sauntered along in exaggerated bouffant wigs and bright plastic shoes, some of them outfitted with an inflating nozzle (just for fun, not function).
There were futuristic bikinis topped with bangled dresses, silkscreen dresses with images of vampy women, and knit miniskirts with big cartoon faces on them. For the men, there were fabulous loafers in brilliant yellow, bright green leather pants, or polka dot leather jackets. Scott’s explanation of the unifying theme was endearingly all-over-the-map. “It’s my imagination of what the cool kids in the ’80s on the Lower East Side in New York were doing,” he said in a backstage interview. “They were watching those early John Waters films and those Russ Meyer films that inspired them.” He continued: “It’s cross-generational, ’80s looking at ’60s, ’50s. I wanted to play with all these nuances, like the vamp and that bad girl who was like, bouffant a little too high, belt a little too tight.”
But wait – that bad girl has also managed a trip to outer space. Or to a place where they use really cool ray-guns, one of Scott’s more striking prints. “It’s kind of Star Trek-based,” he said. “Futuristic planets, with those bangly dresses, and some goddess from outer Venus or something. I wanted to play with all that and have fun with it.” Yet another print – on a series of dresses and tops – seemed to have come from the Jackson Pollock paintings at the Museum of Modern Art. Scott is having a big moment. Along with his ever-popular runway show this week – attendees included Rita Ora and cast members from “Empire” – a documentary about him, “Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer,” is opening with fanfare this week. Scott says he feels fortunate how ideas come to him, then come to fruition so easily. “I just find things that I’m excited about and I just build from there,” he said. “It’s very organic. It all comes together. I feel very lucky.”
Meditations on a school uniform, at Thom Browne
When most people look at a school uniform, they see something, well, uniform. As in, boring. Isn’t that the point? Not in Thom Browne’s hands it isn’t. At his runway show on Monday, the designer took the simple image of a Japanese schoolgirl’s uniform and transformed it into a strange but enticing world – as pretty much only he can do. Browne is known for both his craftsmanship and his showmanship, and thus no one was surprised when they entered a Chelsea gallery to see that the designer had constructed a one-room schoolhouse (recent collections have been set in a 19th-century English hospital and a cathedral). There were rows of chairs, and a black composition notebook neatly placed at each one. Then came the “students.” Each model wore a pleated skirt and blazer. But the workmanship on those “uniforms” was intricate, with different patterns embroidered on both skirt and jacket, and each outfit was wholly unique. There were pinstripes, floral patterns, gingham, seersucker. Color schemes started with shades of gray but moved on to black-and-white, and pastels like mint green and lavender. Then there was the hair, which doubtless would get a reprimand (or at least a hard look) from a strict headmistress: two starched braids, sticking straight up from the head into the air, and framed by whimsical (and topless) boater hats by master milliner Stephen Jones. The students marched slowly, deliberately, around the schoolhouse and then entered it, one by one, and took seats. Finally, a “teacher” arrived, and she looked like a bride – or a Kabuki actor, fully veiled and dressed in a long, tiered white linen skirt and an overcoat in white fur. She took her place at the head of the classroom, rapped on the table, and then Browne came out to take his bow. But the “students” stayed in place in their classroom, and observers rushed forward to photograph them up close as they stood, motionless. Sticking out from under the schoolhouse were a pair of men’s feet, a la “Wizard of Oz.” Who knows where that man figured into the story. Backstage, Browne explained that the whole show was based on one thing: that generic school uniform. “But also, I almost wanted to play with people not knowing what was right side up and what was upside down.” A concise explanation – but when your clothes are that intricately crafted, they speak for themselves.
A storied venue for Carolina Herrera
For a designer known for her refined elegance, there could hardly have been a better venue for Caroline Herrera to show her wares: The storied Frick Collection on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Dressed in filmy dresses and gowns in ever-deepening shades of pink and rose, her models snaked around the museum’s garden court, where guests lining the edges included actress Penelope Cruz, sitting next to Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Afterward, the Venezuelan-born Herrera waxed rhapsodic over the museum’s decision to allow her to mount a fashion show there. “This is my favorite museum in New York, and always has been, since I was a very young girl,” she said of the museum established by steel magnate Henry Clay Frick some 80 years ago, “It is the most divine place and I was really very honored … it’s the first time that they’ve opened it for a fashion show and I think I was in heaven, because I love it.” Herrera, 76, has long been known for her elegant designs that have clothed style icons like Jacqueline Kennedy and, multiple times, Michelle Obama. At Monday’s show, she introduced a modern flair, while still portraying the air of fantasy that she says is essential to fashion. “I am in my rose period,” she said in a backstage interview. “I started with very light shades of pink and then it went a little bit more intense … and I think for a woman to wear something light and pink, it’s great because it gives you a different face, you know?” Those pinks ranged from a pastel, filmy pink shirt dress – very short – to suits with floral accents, to longer slip dresses. She also worked with “techno fabric” to achieve, in some garments, a pleated effect. “It gives the idea that it’s pleated and at the same time it is very seductive, sensual, transparent, (but) not vulgar.” Herrera noted that in every collection, she seeks an element of mystery. “You cannot be going out naked,” she said. “No mystery in that.”-AP