NYFW: Tory Burch, Paul Andrew, and Brandon Maxwell
As day four of NYFW spilled into day five, the remnants of Hurricane Lee caused one last burst of havoc while the city remembered 22 years since September 11, 2001.
Fashion has been inextricably connected to that fateful day as shows were happening just as the first plane hit. Much has changed in New York since then, but a remaining element is its resilience. Three New York brands demonstrate the Big Apple hardiness as they showed their Spring 2024 collections.
Location, location, location has long been a component of any successful endeavor. It can significantly add to a fashion show's cache. Snagging the newly opened Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation at the American Museum of Natural History, Tory Burch scored big as the first to show in the futuristic yet Fred Flinstone-worthy cavernous space. A few in the audience suggested that only a brand like Tory Burch would have the means.
It set the tone for a pared-down collection for Burch, who explored some daring ideas not
generally associated with her brand's aesthetic. Backstage Burch spoke to reporters about her vantage point for the season. The space played a role in providing a sense of serenity Burch wanted to imbue via the collection.
"In a chaotic world, I wanted a bit of calm, but I didn't want minimalism. It was all about experimentation; taking things that were traditionally restrictive to women and reclaiming them and having them part of the shape of form and body," she explained, referring to the hair nets that appeared over handbags, boning that created feather-light tiered hoop dresses or crinoline that appeared overlaying bags or the super short goddess dresses the idea of layering and structure of materials.
"How do you create pieces with complexity, but not be tricky? They are super
flattering to the body and feel good. I wanted everything to be free, easy, and interesting," she continued.
To this end, she dissected the goddesses' draped and ruched mini-dresses in a featherweight jersey. "That is new for me. I'm not a fan of short dresses in the past. I wanted to challenge myself to design short dresses, so we may as well do that in a big way," Burch suggested, adding, "Women have never been as into having no [clothing] rules as they are now, and I see incredible women wearing short dresses. I love it because they feel confident."
It also won't hurt to reach a broader range of clients. The designer pointed out that she wants to see her boys' 20-year-old girlfriends wear the clothes as much as she does her mother. She also was looking at the collection to stand the test of time.
"Women are investing in pieces. How do you have things that will last? I didn't want it to reference the '60s or the '90s; I wanted it to be present," she said.
She achieved her desire for simplicity with depth in various ways, such as the tiny jingle bell chainmail effect that graced a classic cotton evening coat. It was also a nod to the sense of spirituality the designer felt upon first discovering the newly renovated wing of the museum.
"I thought it would be interesting to walk into a room and really be heard," Burch continued.
The Tory Burch business was built on accessories, and the designer spares no creative
clout when it comes to them. (To wit, the ergonomic slides from Spring 2023
that went viral).
This season, she introduced the Violet T-strap shoe with a piercing effect, the brand's new version of a ballet flat and hip-hugging minauderie. Burch pointed to her own T monogram-hardware shoes and said she had rethought the iconic logo which is now appearing on outerwear, sportswear and accessories.
"I love our logo, but it was meant to be a design element, not a logo," she said.
Perhaps so, but it's forever etched into the natural history of her brand.
The no-phone directive to guests invited to Brandon Maxwell’s may have shocked some people but was refreshing to others who viewed the decision to eschew phone usage and just enjoy the moment and be present as refreshing. For Maxwell’s Spring 2024 collection, it was a moment to behold.
Maxwell’s choice to show at the Andrew Kreps gallery space tucked away on the hidden Cortlandt Alley that boxed in white sheer panels added to the intimate, serene mood that set the stage. The collection was grounded in monochrome fabrics such as stretch linen, Italian sheer knit, and Italian wool-silk heavy crepe that emphasized capes and wrap shoulders that topped off sweeping skirts with the slightest hint of sheerness that came in warm whites, navy, olive, and a bright orange-red.
Maxwell summed up the fluid yet structured, minimal yet detailed, and neutral yet colorful collection this way in a statement.
“My personal development has been vital to my evolution as a designer. What began as a constricted collection with structured and tailored fabrics progressed into softness and a more organic feeling. Much like life, a constant push and pull between freedom and restraint, consideration and disregard, destruction, and creation; a palpable need for balance," said Maxwell.
Maxwell struck a balance in addressing the needs of the urban woman with a busy social life as well as a casual lifestyle. While the crepes oozed comfort while being pulled together, Maxwell also dove into his upscale approach to leather dressing with pieces such as a chain-mail patchwork leather skirt, sculpted leather gowns featuring leather paillettes attached with hardware or a shirred gathering at the bodice creating cut-outs. Applying leather to distressed denim made for a fresh take on denim dressing. This is not an easy feat.
Topping off almost every look was a versatile oversized hobo bag featuring gold hardware to resemble a knot (the same hardware also appeared on belts that were also a strong side of the collection). The leather goods signaled that Maxwell may be getting serious about accessories, welcome news for the ladies he dresses so flawlessly.
Paul Andrew delighted the fans of his upscale shoe brand and, with a return to the New York fashion calendar to present his Spring 2024 eponymous shoe brand to the press and buyers. Andrew, who relaunched the collection in 2022 after returning to New York upon completing his tenure at Ferragamo, refreshed the label with a new attitude, instilling a funkier, edgier side to the collection and his style.
Andrew commanded one of New York City’s most iconic locations, the Rockefeller Center rink, where he lined up his collection of sandals, flats, and booties in front of the Prometheus Fountain. In a visual serenade, Andrew enlisted a roller-skate dance troupe choreographed by Eric Christison, who skated to an original soundtrack created by Frédéric Sanchez.
That was until Hurricane Lee’s after-effects brought on a torrential downpour that had assistants and helpers scurrying to collect the collection of shoes that harkened a more subdued approach than in previous seasons.
The staff quickly grabbed the zipper-trimmed styles that marked the collection in a tan, black, red, white, and silver color palette. A zip trim was featured kicky mules with a circular stiletto heel, its bootie counterpart with zip pulls, pumps, and flat slides.
Sophisticated pointy-toe boots and pumps were a spring closet must-have, while a new sculptural Lucite heel inspired by the work of Jochen Holz will become a staple of the collection. A variety of takes on an espadrille with a bow detail address the needs of the coastal lifestyle for his customers. For those who love a little drama in their shoes, Andrew’s other signature heel style, the Arc, came in styles that lined the insole with fur or cascaded across the upper of a mule.
“The inspiration is about wearable shoes; I keep thinking about this term I call ‘desk-to-disco.’ A shoe that you can wear from day into night,” he said, calling out the perfect shoe for spring as a flat sculptural Brutalist-inspired heel with a simple zip-trimmed band upper.
The pouring rain may have required the team to bring the shoes inside on tables from Jupiter, the restaurant catering the event, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The weary, hungry fashion flock welcomed the nourishment that included award-winning Napa Valley wine, and the weather forced them to stay a bit longer and savor the moment and time with Andrew. That alone is a win in the bustle of fashion week.
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