NEW YORK, United States - New York already has the reputation of being the most commercial of the fashion capitals, but this New York Fashion Week has taken that stereotype to new levels. With economic uncertainty swirling through the city (Lehman Brothers is the latest Wall Street Bank whose future is in question) and footfall at department stores dropping precipitously, the mantra of the week seems to have been 'Play it Safe!"
Over and over again this week, young designers have told me that the big buyers are sticking to proven silhouettes in basic colours, veering away from the fashion items. While the basics and staples of designer collections will always be important part of the product assortment, it seems to me that precisely because times are so tough, buyers should be making an effort to give consumers a reason to buy. And, that is not accomplished with a series of little black dresses.
Luckily, there were some more interesting options on offer, to keep consumers and savvy buyers more interested. Natalie Massenet, for example, raved about the jumpsuits at Thakoon and Proenza Schouler. There were also some beautiful and interesting silhouettes at Oscar de la Renta's stunning show (where J-Lo made a front row appearance), keeping the ladies who lunch on their toes.
Speaking of which, perhaps the most inventive and creative duo in New York is Rodarte, who showed at the Gagosian Gallery in an unconventional seating arrangement, with shoes made of electrical wire and inspired by Star Wars' C3P0.
As this New York season winds down (there were almost 250 fashion shows to be taken in an ever-expanding New York schedule), I am looking forward to the creative energy of London, where safety is a four-letter word. Then again, London has a long way to go in creating the same kind of energy around emerging fashion businesses as is found in New York. Perhaps a fusion of the two would be ideal.
London Fashion Week begins on Sunday.
Photos courtesy of Style.com and Coutorture.com.