Posting celebrities at a fashion show isn’t exactly uncommon these days, when Biden grandchildren show up for Markarian and several members of the “Euphoria” cast appear almost everywhere. The you-scratch-my-back-I-do-yours nature of the fame-fashion relationship is an open secret. But even by that cynical measure, LaQuan Smith’s opening model of the show, which was held at 9 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, caused something of a stir.
Enter Julia Fox, fresh from her breakup with Kanye West, geared up in a devious black turtleneck sweater with a troika of large cutouts around the chest, an artfully placed T-shaped strip of fabric that draws attention in all sorts of suggestive directions, her hair was pulled back into a tight little bun, a sway in her hips, and “hey buster, look what you’re missing” was written all over her face. (Mr. Smith has known her since high school, a spokeswoman said, and he thought she would be the perfect woman to represent the spirit of the collection.)
It took the concept of the revenge dress and lifted it. And provided a pretty good example of the practical application of what may seem like the most impractical fashion.
Mr. Smith can cut a mean motorcycle jacket and a sleek sheepskin overcoat, but he’s a specialist in the vernacular of trash and flash: legs, covered in sequins; curves, barely enclosed; bling signaling, unabashedly. That’s easy to ignore, but as Mrs. Fox showed, it has its uses.
It has also breathed some life into what has been a remarkably quiet fashion week.
The exuberance that permeated last season, propelled by a palpable sense of the rise of the city and the role of fashion in it, is gone. Mayor Eric Adams, one of the great political rotary dryers and someone presumably deeply interested in the success of one of New York’s biggest industries, is busy. Instead of looking outward, many designers seem to turn inward.
At its best, it creates a sense of intimacy, like Maryam Nassir Zadeh, who likes to layer outfits in weird combinations, like a schoolgirl sweater over a leather skirt over sheer pants, and whose shows often feel like an insider’s family reunion. This time, writer Ottessa Moshfegh (who did a short story for the Proenza Schouler show earlier this week and is becoming something of a fashion trend) walked the runway in a gray knee-length secretary skirt and black leather scarf, while designers Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta of Eckhaus Latta cheered from the audience. (Mrs. Zadeh appeared on their show on Saturday.)
But when Tory Burch put on her show in front of a glass-walled tower in Midtown, what seemed like all of New York City lit up and spread out below, including a fluorescent sign atop a neighboring building that read in bright red neon “New Yorker (hearts) Tory.” It was the rare – and useful – reminder of the outside world.
And it gave her clothes, which are increasingly interesting with their touches of midcentury chic and 70s hues, their color-blocked geometry (a beaded T-shirt in red and blue atop a skinny turquoise turtleneck with black arms, paired with a marigold Lurex skirt). and bisected by a black leather wrap-around strap) a ground in the power structure in which they are intended to be worn.
That was missing from the Carolina Herrera show, which was held in a denatured white box, in which designer Wes Gordon unveiled his rainbow-bright parade of full-skirt entrance dresses and beaded jumpsuits; tulle-topiary cocktail dresses and floral sheaths; a black tie bouquet of beauty looking for a gala.
And it was lacking at Coach, where Stuart Vevers built a “city somewhere in America” according to the “neighborhood newsletter” left on every seat. “A city where there are always golden hours”, it said, “love is in the air” and “everything is possible”.
Sounds good, though in fact it looked more like a town in some sort of haunted suburb, rendered as it was by three lone plywood houses, a parked car and a basketball hoop in the driveway – and populated by a bourgeoisie almost completely dressed to grunge, in checked and thick sheepskin, graphic T-shirts, corduroy, baby doll dresses and graffiti-splattered clothing. In other words, dressed in the former uniform of anxious estranged youth, here meant to represent pink nostalgia and hope.
It made no sense. The 90s is one of the most important trends of the moment, partly because the vague free-floating fear of that time feels very familiar in this day and age. Mr. Vevers got the first part completely right, but seemed to have missed the second. That left a big gap between clothing and content. And all the celebrities (including Megan Thee Stallion) and TikTokers in the crowd couldn’t fill it.