This file photo taken on February 10, 2014 shows fashion designer Carolina Herrera waving to guests after her show during the Mercedes Benz Fall/Winter 2014 Fashion Shows in New York. It was announced February 9, 2018 that Carolina Herrera, queen of elegance and favorite of US first ladies, is stepping down as chief designer of her eponymous label. (AFP/Don Emmert)
New York Fashion Week day two saw first lady favorite Carolina Herrera signal the end of an era by stepping down from her four-decade-old label, while Tory Burch showcased breezy optimism in a sea of carnations for a post-#MeToo world.
The Venezuelan-born 79-year-old Herrera said she had appointed US designer Wes Gordon to take over as creative director after she takes the bow at her fall/winter 2018 fashion show at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan on Monday.
But if she's waving goodbye to the runway, she insisted in an interview with The New York Times that she was not retiring. Instead she will become a global brand ambassador for her fashion label, which has a reported $1.4 billion in annual sales.
"I am so pleased Wes is now part of the Herrera House -- he's the right one for this position to further build on our great momentum," she said in a statement.
Gordon, who studied in London, and from 2010 to 2016 presented his eponymous womenswear collection in New York, has been creative consultant at Carolina Herrera for a year.
Herrera founded her namesake fashion house in 1981, going on to dress first ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Michelle Obama and Melania Trump, as well as Hollywood actresses like Renee Zellweger, not to mention generations of society women.
"Fashion has changed a lot," Herrera told the Times.
"Women dress in a very strange way. Like clowns. There is a lot of pressure to change all the time. But it's better to wear what suits you."
Tory Burch also knows what suits her, transforming a market space under a flyover into a field of pink carnations sprouting from springy moss, light streaming through the windows and the Chamber Orchestra of New York playing Vivaldi.
Her fall/winter 2018 collection was romantic, whimsical and partly inspired by Lee Radziwill, the 84-year-old indomitable American socialite and younger sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
And if there was a hot pink pussy bow blouse and matching skirt, any allusion to the pink pussy hats worn by women marching against the Trump administration was pure coincidence: turns out Radziwill has a hot pink couch in her Paris living room.
- China market -
"I promise that wasn't in my mind. It really wasn't," laughed 51-year-old Burch, worth an estimated $600 million according to Forbes.
"I'm a big supporter of women and women's issues but that is probably not how I would demonstrate that," she added. "I love the color and pink, we were referencing Lee Radziwill... she had a pink couch."
But she is only too happy to see positivity blowing in the winds as the United States navigates the sexual harassment watershed.
"You can read optimism into the whole mood of the collection," she told AFP. "That is a definite direction," she said.
"Women's rights is the reason I started my company... this has been ingrained in our conversation for 14 years so to see a sea change is pretty spectacular."
Her collection showcased feminine layers mixed with classic tailoring, chintz reimagined and made modern into a floaty dress, scarf hemlines paired with clean-cut tomboy jackets and a blanket poncho reflecting the boho vibe of the label.
There was a handbag named after Lee. Colors were ivory, pale pink, green and navy, with patchworks of florals and stripes, delicate lace and organza, pointy-toed booties.
If New York Fashion Week is struggling to excite buyers and editors as big names sit out the schedule or flee to Europe, Burch is not one of those to defect.
"I love showing in New York," she said. But she is thinking about "more seasonless dressing" -- reflected in the layering, making the clothes wearable in any clime.
It's very useful for a global business: "They're very interested in fashion and also they're traveling a lot," said Burch of the Chinese client. "The China market is very important for us."