Fashion is always vying to spring forward. Grab some motif; give it a spin, a wrinkle, an extra stitch, or a weather-beaten vibe. The models are razor-knife thin, morbidly disinterested in their garb, barely an example of the "average" citizen who can actually afford designer clothes. But that doesn't stop the steady stream of fashionistas from entering the wild world of fashion and offering the thirsty denizens of hip some creative zeal to brighten up their otherwise cookie-cutter mentality of megastore branding machines. Target has co-opted hipsters for years by hiring hipster designers to offer middle-class Americans the opportunity to dress sharp and feel hip(per). Ditto for foreign stores H&M (Swedish) and Uniqlo (Japanese). Their imported clothing franchises offer even higher style at a ridiculously low price point that is slaughtering the clothing competition in New York. This fall Jill Sander has lent her tailored hand to men's and women's clothing at Uniqlo and shoe maven Jimmy Choo has hooked up with H&M.
This past week I happened to catch two shows during Fashion Week in NYC. First one to cross my radar was award-winning menswear maven Antonio Azzuolo. Mr. A once served as design director for Ralph Lauren Purple and Black Label, "where he dedicated his time to concept and design." Well, let me tell you. His men's line is hip, it's fresh, and he might be the next Paul Smith if he can get some young men buying into his concept. Nothing wrong with mixing a little simplicity into the hipster crowd, while pushing his own design agenda forward.
He did something really smart with his runway show, too. Instead of the normal parade of models, he brought out all of his models at once, lined them up to face the cameras and press and buyers. This afforded him the wonderful advantage of letting folks really study his clothes. And it afforded to Mr. A the opportunity to watch the audience react. Not a bad way to gauge someone's approval or disapproval of something.
Then on Friday, Ed Bennett coaxed me into joining him in Chelsea to view women strutting the runway for IDEEEN's Spring/Summer 2010 Collection. The native Japanese duo Junko Hirata and Atsuko Yanase, using Africa as their creative motif, offered a glimpse into a world fashion bazaar. Although I loved their clothes, I worried that unless the women wearing them barely tipped the scales at, say, 120 pounds and were at least five foot ten, the artistic integrity, draping, and sheer elegance of the clothes would be wasted on the average female form. But who knows, maybe not. Perhaps they should have provided a simultaneous parade of the normal female form parading down the catwalk in the same clothes we witnessed on the young fawns on display.
Never one to shy away from capturing the moment on my video iPhone, here's a glimpse at that show. Judge for yourself as to whether or not you would wear these fabulous clothes. Now let's get shopping and help turn this economy around.
See you at the next show.
Mr. Wright is the former editor-in-chief of Creem and Prince's New Power Generation magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and music. He is also a singer/songwriter who has released 3 solo CDs, and a member of the folk-rock quartet GIANTfingers. And before all of this he was a William Morris agent.