#SuzyNYFW Rethinking Fashion in the Wake of Weinstein

In the wake of #MeToo and Time’s Up – the defiance of women against male sexual aggression – what stance should designers take at the first collections of new year 2018?

Modesty? Anger? Contrition? Discretion?

Tom Ford: Splashy glamour

Well POW! to all that from Tom Ford. Or “Tom Ford Beverly Hills” as he announced in his own writing on a sparkling black and silver sweat top. That battled for attention with colour blocked puffer jackets, leopard print hosiery and the same raw, animalistic patterns on sporty outfits.

Tom has left London for LA, where he is a genuine player in the movie industry. But his fashion attitude was that of a West Coast novice with his references to the splashy glamour of Rodeo Drive. That spirit was transported to a specially constructed set in New York’s Park Avenue Armory, where the designer held his menswear show earlier this week.

For ‘normal’ day wear, there was a touch of body-conscious swagger in tailored trouser suits and especially body-tracing jackets. But some of the show was played out in colour and pattern: vivid turquoise, shocking pink and blood orange on a puffer jacket worn with stretch leggings. As a contrast to the cascade of leopard or snakeskin patterns, there might be just plain stretch pants – but in shimmering metallic copper. A glitter bag spelled out the words “Pussy Power”.

Was the purpose of the show to present defiance to the casting-couch sexual violence of a movie world that has been beating its breast and saying “Mea culpa”?

If so, that line did not work for me. If anything, the clothes – a black dress with a fleshy cutaway at sides and back, and the oversize sparkly earrings – seemed more like a throwback to the 1980s, or to Ford’s rampant sexuality in clothes from his Gucci years in the 1990s.

There was not enough wit – or perhaps wisdom – in this collection, although it will no doubt be lapped up by his fans and people for whom even the name Mulholland Drive has a throb of sensuality.

Tory Burch: Pretty – but purposeful

“Resilience,” said Tory Burch, backstage from a mighty arched room filled with pink carnations. “Resilience,” she repeated as she hugged Sienna Miller, one of a posse of front-row women including Julianne Moore and Ethiopian sustainability activist Liya Kebede.

The show notes described a colourful but purposeful collection, referring to the “effortless style” of Lee Radziwill, often known only as Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister; and also of modern dance troupe Pina Bausch.

This mix produced a more powerful view of womanhood than Tory usually creates with her precise floral patterns. For winter 2018, the vision was not just of flower prints with an arty edge. The outfits might intermix florals on slithers of crepe de chine, team georgette with a shearling winter coat, or blend wool and linen into a coat.

The result was not just about keeping warm in a winter season. It seemed to express different facets of modern femininity – right down to the low-heeled shoes with pointed toes.

Significantly, too, the garments encased body shapes without any cling. And apart from one single A-line skirt, hemlines more typically fell to mid-calf.

“Feminine layers mixed with classical tailoring,” said Tory, as though it were a statement of sexual equality today.

You can’t read too much politics into a fashion show. But it is a designer’s role to capture the moment. And by loosening up her pretty precision and mixing hard and soft fabrics, as much as attitudes, this show scored high for a modern woman aiming at her peers.