#SuzyNYFW: Fashion Streamlining
Gabriela Hearst: Tailoring Women Like Men
Gabriela Hearst stood in front of the mood board for her women’s spring/summer 2018 collection – and explained why it was filled with men, from portly political figure Winston Churchill to Fred Astaire looking chic with a handkerchief in his pocket.
“There are a lot of boys in this collection – it was the clothes that we did that are men inspired,” said the designer, pointing to the tailored jackets that cross over one way for women and another way for men.
“We researched, and the only reason is completely outdated – it was because there was someone dressing you and it was easier for them,” continued to the designer. “I was curious because it made me think that men, contemporary men in particular, have very few elements to show style if you compare them to Louis XIV where they had everything in their armoire. So, I used a Keith Richards picture to develop a print with stripes, polka dots and leopards and that became also a blazer. The Fred Astaire handkerchief and the Orson Wells stripes, that’s really cool.”
Since Gabriela does not – yet – make clothes for men, I asked her why it was a subject of such passionate interest.
“Because I’m having two thoughts, and one of them is that the Fall ’18 collection, it’s based on women that had to dress as men for work,” the designer said. And yes, she did mean autumn/winter 2018, even if the show I was about to see was for spring/summer. With her main source of materials the animals, including merino sheep, on her ranch in Uruguay, Hearst needs to look ahead.
Having studied the board, with its references to Victorian coal miners, to Miles Davis in window pane checks with polka dots and to Pablo Picasso in tweeds, I sat down at the show to see how this male tailoring influence – from Gianni Agnelli to Jimi Hendrix – would looked as the female models walked around the limpid pool in the restaurant of the Four Seasons.
Up close in the studio, I had appreciated the soft touch of a wax jacket, handmade buckles sourced from an Italian shoe maker, trousers made from a heavy silk for a powerful fit and a dress lined with chiffon. On the runway, I failed to distinguish even the merino wool and cashmere from Loro Piano.
The show was sleek and chic – especially the impeccably cut coats, the fine cotton tops and skirts and a striped and belted dress. A pink silk trouser suit looked a perfect example of masculine/feminine style and so did a trench coat with zebra patterned shorts peeping beneath.
But the moment that shone was when the designer herself took a bow in a trouser suit anchored with a rustic belt.
The problem with true luxury, which tends to be a joy for the wearer rather than a gaudy gift to the paparazzi, is that it is difficult to show on a runway. The presentation needed more than efficient programme notes. It required a detailed explanation of each outfit and the work behind it. And even that would not explain the look, the feel and the elegance of something that looked so deceptively simple.
Derek Lam: Genuine American Sportswear
Even before he sent out his genuine American sportswear – an increasing rarity in the shows – Derek Lam put a message by Walt Whitman in his programme:
“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains,” read the wise words.
Lam is possibly the purest designer showing in New York, because he is true to the otherwise confused definition of sportswear. American sportswear. For this engineer, that meant a leather western cowboy shirt, but tailored in leather and worn with smart trousers and built-in belt. The effect of this sportswear was trim and functional from a tailored camel coat tipped with leather to an all-in-one suit and matching jacket with a diamond jacquard pattern.
Everything seemed streamlined and presentable for work or relaxed days, with the cowboy references offering just a hint of the world outside the city. The skill was to keep everything low key, even when the black top to a dress had a bright yellow skirt trimmed with georgette ribbons.
These were decent clothes for the real world and all hail to Derek Lam for keeping fashion real.