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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

#SuzyNYFW: "See-now-buy-now" is New York's hot new reality show

Fashion shows are aimed at the people, not the pros

12 Сентября 2016

Sunset over Brooklyn Bridge at Thakoon’s New York Fashion Week show for Autumn/Winter 2016
Sunset over Brooklyn Bridge at Thakoon’s New York Fashion Week show for Autumn/Winter 2016

The dying red-gold sun over Brooklyn Bridge was symbolic of the end of a fashion show era — before the dawn of a new, public-focused strategy. Thakoon Panichgul, like a smattering of other designers during this New York Fashion Week, was aiming for DFN: Designer Fashion Now.

Thakoon’s Silas Chou and his daughter, Vivian, with Suzy Menkes at Thakoon’s New York Fashion Week show
Thakoon’s Silas Chou and his daughter, Vivian, with Suzy Menkes at Thakoon’s New York Fashion Week show

After so much talk about exposing a new season's look directly to the consumers, it is still a shock to see it on the runway — first from Tom Ford and with others, including Tommy Hilfiger, yet to come. But designers in America, perhaps more than in Europe, are embracing the change that the digital era has ushered in.

Thakoon Autumn 2016 Ready-to-Wear
Thakoon Autumn 2016 Ready-to-Wear

“For me it is a re-boot — because we were shifting the whole business model, I wanted to put a lot of energy into it,” Thakoon explained. "It was really like thinking outside the box, breaking the rules a little bit, because these are the clothes that people want.” So here, in the sweaty heat of a New York September, was a collection of clothes destined for this autumn season: jackets in loose and easy shapes, cropped short over slim pants or hip-length over skirts that came thigh-high, knee or calf-length. Thakoon's way of offering digital butterfly patterns and bright plaid checks – mixed with neutral colours from peach through to beige and black — produced an appealing wardrobe.

Thakoon Autumn 2016 Ready-to-Wear
Thakoon Autumn 2016 Ready-to-Wear

And there on each bench place was a booklet with the 31 looks in detail and an opportunity to download a Fashion Scan app for intricate detail about each product. Not quite all the pieces go on sale immediately, as the idea is continually to filter in new clothes to keep the concept fresh. 

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Thakoon Autumn 2016 Ready-to-Wear

Thakoon Autumn 2016 Ready-to-Wear

Thakoon Autumn 2016 Ready-to-Wear

Thakoon Autumn 2016 Ready-to-Wear


"We started to think about exposure to the consumer two years ago,” said textile tycoon Silas Chou whose company owns Thakoon and whose daughter Vivian has developed the online project that includes a bricks-and-mortar store on SoHo's Wooster Street. "Thakoon is a designer with an open mind, he got the idea of no wholesale and all e-commerce," said Silas Chou. “This is for the Snapchat generation.”

Thakoon Autumn 2016 Ready-to-Wear
Thakoon Autumn 2016 Ready-to-Wear

The message? That the designers currently showing Spring/Summer 2017 collections during this New York fashion week will be the last generation of traditional retail. Is there still a place for fashion companies with traditional delivery schedules to show their collections — especially for those with a personal vision? The sweet voice of singer Julee Cruise set the tone for the Creatures of the Wind collection, where embroidered craft work, such as a feminine, lacy appliqué trim on the hem of a strict check coat, suggested a contrast, rather than a conflict.

Creatures of the Wind Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear
Creatures of the Wind Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear

The word “Angel”, as if hand drawn, on the programme cover, was part of the message of Creatures of the Wind designers Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters. The music from nineties cult television show Twin Peaks was just part of the blending of eras that brought together shades of orange straight from the seventies with sixties-style black and white optics. Even if it might have drawn inspiration from the youth quakes of the past, the overall effect of the show was a romanticism of those eras. It produced a pretty and wearable contrast with street style and tough sportswear, proving that there is always space in fashion for a fresh point of view.

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Creatures of the Wind Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear

Creatures of the Wind Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear

Creatures of the Wind Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear

Creatures of the Wind Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear


So is New York's fashion week all about the struggle between online and bricks-and-mortar? Not at the World Trade Centre where the opening of Saks Fifth Avenue Downtown is taking a stand in favour of — or maybe a gamble on — traditional salesmanship. The sleek, modern store, gleaming with ceilings traced in steel, made a bold statement of allegiance to contemporary fashion with the store's entire buy of Vetements clothing hung in their plastic delivery bags to form an arch at the top of the escalator.

Saks Downtown’s Vetements range on display
Saks Downtown’s Vetements range on display

But otherwise, it seemed like a department store doing business as usual: sleek accessories, bowls of white flowers, a touch of wit in the carved monkey rubbing his head in the men's casual section — as if puzzled about quite what to buy. There was nothing here to frighten away the wealthy workers of Wall Street – rather the reverse. Maybe if you are staring at your screen all day, you might be pleased to wander round this temple of commerce and do some glamorous non-virtual shopping. "We believe in this — 85 per cent of our current customers buy in store,” said Saks President, Marc Metrick. “People can shop online — whatever. Or they will come here just to shop and see what's in.” But with the excitement of changing attitudes to shopping and the offer of instant gratification, New York Fashion Week seems to be leading a revolution of timely and season-conscious delivery — whether it is ultimately bought online or in-store

Creatures of the Wind Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear
Creatures of the Wind Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear

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