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Wang in the office, Plein in outer space at NY Fashion Week

Jennie Matthew

Agence France-Presse

New York, United States | Sun, February 11, 2018 | 07:11 pm
Wang in the office, Plein in outer space at NY Fashion Week

A model walks the runway at Alexander Wang during New York Fashion Week at 4 Times Square on February 10, 2018 in New York City. (AFP/Angela Weiss)

Alexander Wang, the designer who embodies the downtown New York cool so beloved of off-duty models, and Philipp Plein offered contrasting perspectives on the point of Fashion Week Saturday. Is it about the clothes or the mother of all stunts? 

For Wang, the US wunderkind and ex-creative director of Balenciaga, the clothes spoke for themselves, giving fall/winter 2018 an ode to power dressing and the working woman in his trademark black.

His models, including Kaia Gerber, powered out under strip lighting on an office-cubicle set -- the kind of dull grey space that no one who can afford his clothes would ever get paid enough to work in.

For his final shebang before going off piste and showing in June and December, outside the traditional Fashion Week calendar, Wang's woman is very much post-#MeToo and the sexual harassment watershed.

She is no nonsense, zipped up and dressed for business, predominately kitted out in leather, and a sprinkling of hot pink -- the same color of the hats worn by women marching against the Trump administration.

Hair was swept back by banana clips, skirts short, tights black sheer and eyes hidden behind dark glasses. Silver studs covered backpacks and gloves, almost like armor.

There was little cleavage, but high necklines, sporty anoraks and digital bank account-style numbers printed onto leggings.

Wang did a victory lap of the runway at the end, his long dark hair flying, grinning from ear to ear and blowing a kiss to the audience.

- Space ship -

"The business model needs to change because the consumer has changed," Stephanie Horton, chief strategy officer at the label has said of the forthcoming timetable switch that some expect to catch on.

But for Plein, the so-called bad boy of fashion whose flamboyance, bling and flashiness has had the style establishment up in arms, the point is the experience, the buzz and the chaos.

The German-born, Swiss-based designer put on a futuristic display at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, fake snow falling from the ceiling and coating his guests, many of whom were soaked by heavy rain and infuriated by bouncers' seemingly chaotic policy on opening the doors.

Known for his extravagant staging, the show kicked off an hour late with hip hop trio Migos, Plein-branded snow mobiles roaring on the runway, a smoke-spewing, deafeningly loud space ship coming down to land and a Transformers-style robot walking hand in hand with a cat-suited model.

Read also: Diesel Fashion Week stunt pokes fun at knock-off artists

The backdrop was aluminum-foil style mountains, the room bathed in blue light and the music anything from hip hop and body-jarring thumping bass to Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me To The Moon."

His models wore skin-tight ski suits and giant knee-high fur boots, kicking up the fake snow with pink hair and silver teddy bear bags, while his men wore Philipp Plein-emblazoned leather jackets and Playboy hoodies.

At the end the models danced under the red strobe lighting of the make-believe space ship, writhing in aluminum colored puffer pants, sequined tracksuits and fur coats with transparent overlay.

"In fashion, we're all playing with the same weapons," the 39-year-old designer told BBC News in an interview.

- 'Black cowboy' -

"The difference is brand positioning and imaging," he added. "People in the luxury fashion industry buy brands, and when you buy a brand you buy a dream, an emotion, a name."

Other highlights saw designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, known for his political approach to fashion, debut his Pyer Moss collaboration with Reebok by paying homage to black cowboys and the history of minorities.

"What I wanted to do is start talking about subcultures of America, different people who were left out," the 30-year-old told AFP.

"We started," he explained, with "the story of the American cowboy, which was rewritten and whitewashed. But the original cowboy was a black man," he added.

Christian Siriano, a plus-size diversity advocate and red carpet designer who has dressed Hollywood and Michelle Obama, celebrated 10 years in the business with Whoopi Goldberg and Meg Ryan front row.

It was a collection that showcased diversity in all shapes, sizes and colors under a theme dubbed the "ultimate royal dinner party."

Men, women and trans models walked the red carpeted runway at the hallowed environs of New York's Masonic Hall for the London-trained designer's collection inspired by late 18th century British art.

"It isn't such a serious thing. Getting dressed should be a fun thing in the morning," he told Fashionista.com.

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