New York Spark: A Review of Michael Kors’ Fall/Winter 2018 Show
We’ve been waiting for this.
“This” being a show at New York Fashion Week that slam-dunks what New York fashion is good at; an almost schizophrenic, highly street-style conducive spectrum of influences and design elements that are wearable, mixable, matchable, adaptable.
And we wanted Michael Kors to be the one that revived the spirit of the city in the way only Michael Kors can. As the landscape of fashion continues to pattern itself more after Japanese slip-and-slide game shows, ever-shifting and unpredictable, New York was beginning to find its signature grit and pizzazz watered-down by the romance and quirk of European labels, the newly adapted formulas of collections being shown off-season in “off-cities” like Los Angeles or Beijing, and the nods to the Hollywood-inspired small town America market. I get it. It’s a reactionary response to spreadsheets and social media musings. But at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at the Lincoln Center, something special transpired and the magic of hard-hitting and marketable retail returned.
Michael Kors between actresses Blake Lively and Emily Blunt
It was simultaneously familiar and not. There were traces of the signature Kors flair, be it in a black and yellow floral pattern, or a reliable pump and purse. There was a sense that you’d seen the rumblings of this collection somewhere before, but only on that runway did it all come together cohesively in a palatable manner— the high-low potential of wool, the everydayness of a trench or a tracksuit evolved when combined, the possibilities of plaid and camo and leopard and florals and stripes.
As designers have racked their creative and business brains to adapt to emerging markets in Asia, we’ve seen a rather disjointed execution of what the consumer climate is perceived to want. In all my years in fashion in the region, it is the fascination of this sort of Manhattan-esque lifestyle that has always been aspirational and inspirational. Asians have mastered glam, we’ve mastered logo-mania, done well with minimalism, become wonderfully adept at buying directly off the mannequin. But it is the artful interpretation of the New Yorker; the ability to take a closet full of seemingly random patterns and materials and make something inspired and individual out of them that continues to elude the still conservative and neophyte average Asian fashion enthusiast.
For so long we were a region of single-stream input — making do with what pieces from what collections happened to find their way to our shores. Inspiration, too, was relegated to the same print ads and limited campaigns. With the advent of the internet, individuality has become the new uncharted territory. Celebrities and bloggers lend the priceless value of a personality-driven interpretation of otherwise staple pieces.
Michael Kors hits this personalization potential in multiple ways with his Fall 2018 presentation. Aside from the clothes, it is the venue, casting and music that all amplify this exciting, non-spoon fed approach to fashion. Models of different shapes, sizes, origins, ages, and genders, with varying degrees of recognizability, create an aspirational accessibility that is so crucial for connecting with today’s consumer.
The frenetic cut-to-cut Michel Gaubert initiated soundtrack that yanks you from 90’s radio pop to iconic theater medleys is an empowering assertion that accompanies Michael’s collection: we are not all alike. We are the sum of many parts, some widely communal, some ridiculously niche. We are not all relegated to one personality, one stereotype, one genre, one definition of “I”. We are evolving and enigmatic beings that deserve to explore and express every facet of our functional and fantastical selves.
Bravo, Michael Kors, for giving us the tools to make this possible this season. When the market is unpredictable, give them unpredictable.
Photos are courtesy of Michael Kors and Stores Specialists Inc.