Fashion / Style

Oscars Conflict and MIA Designers Diminish New York Fashion Week, But Texas Flash May Save the Day

New Stars, Runway Twists and Brandon Maxwell's Bold World

BY // 02.06.20

The Oscars and some big-name designer defections are roiling New York Fashion Week, which officially kicks off this Friday. But the semi-annual fashion extravaganza will go on with such big names as Tory Burch, Oscar de la Renta, Jason Wu, Carolina Herrera and Texas native Brandon Maxwell on the runway, along with some returning stars and a crop of new designers who are itching to make their mark.

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s in store:

Oscar Disruption

The Oscars, which will be broadcast Sunday, have never overlapped New York Fashion Week before, but the most prestigious of award shows, with the most important red carpet, was moved up this year from its late February date and designers aren’t sure exactly what to do.

Council of Fashion Designers of America CEO Tom Ford is decamping to Los Angeles to be closer to the stars this season and will show his fall/winter 2020 collection on the West Coast Thursday night. And although New York Fashion Week doesn’t officially start until Friday, Christian Siriano, who outfits many stars at red carpet events, has moved his show to Thursday night from his usual late Saturday afternoon slot in order to accommodate his Oscar clientele.

Hollywood stylists often pull looks directly from the runway for such a major awards show, but that’s not likely to happen this season with the overlapping of dates — unless designers are making an extra copy of a desired gown for an Oscar hopeful.

Major Names Missing

With fashion week in flux,  Ralph Lauren is skipping it altogether for the first time. In the past few years, Lauren has shown designs on the runway available for sale immediately. But that doesn’t appear to have worked out, so the veteran designer is taking a Fashion Week break and then will likely return to the plan most other designers currently follow in showing a collection one season ahead (this Fashion Week showcases Fall 2020 styles). That gives time for retailer input and modification.

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Also missing from New York will be Tommy Hilfiger, who is showing in London, and playful designer Jeremy Scott, who recently announced he will debut his latest collection in Paris this season.

Despite these major absences, the Fall 2020 Fashion Week schedule includes a number of eagerly awaited returnees. The hip Los Angeles label Rodarte will return to New York Fashion Week after a hiatus and Monse, the label created by Oscar de la Renta designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, will again stage a runway show after taking a couple of seasons off. Kim and Garcia will also debut the Oscar de la Renta Fall ’20 collection later in the week. The duo will be in Houston on March 25 to show the de la Renta collection at the Chronicle’s Best Dressed Luncheon.

Houston favorite Adam Lippes and popular contemporary label Veronica Beard also are staging full-scale runway shows. In past seasons, both have held presentations instead. In a nice gesture, Lippes is serving breakfast to guests before his 9 am show begins.

Other designers are looking at new ways to showcase their collections. Instead of a runway show, Phillip Lim is hosting a relaxed “house party” at his New York store for retailers, press, clients and the public. And Tanya Taylor has nixed a presentation in favor of videos filmed with female comedians, including Jane Krakowski, Gillian Jacobs and Michelle Buteau.

Serious Sizzle

Even with the low-key aura, the week will offer some major fashion sizzle. Longview, Texas native Brandon Maxwell’s fashion show is the hottest ticket, with cocktails at the Museum of Natural History before the show is presented in the adjoining Hall of North American Mammals — the first time a runway show has taken place there. It’s unknown if Maxwell’s good friend Lady Gaga will attend, but the show is expected to draw a smattering of celebrities, including model and Project Runway host Karlie Kloss. Maxwell is a judge on the longtime reality series.

Designer Brandon Maxwell and his young nephew at Catwalk for a Cure

The Carolina Herrera runway show will take place at The Shed, a new arts complex at Hudson Yards, the massive new development on Manhattan’s west side. It has been rumored as the new hub for New York Fashion Week, which desperately needs a central location after exiting from Bryant Park and Lincoln Center several years ago.

However, plans to showcase The Shed last season were dashed when the complex’s developer, Stephen Ross, held a big dollar fundraiser for Donald Trump and designers called for a boycott of Hudson Yards. Herrera’s return seems to be testing the waters. If all goes well, The Shed could become the center of fashion activity in September.

Fashion Week’s Party Time

Of course, at Fashion Week there’s always room for glam parties. Bulgari is hosting a blowout bash at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to celebrate its legendary B.Zero1 jewelry which was designed to resemble the famed Rome Coliseum and ushered in the advent of stylish rings. Miu Miu is premiering its latest Women’s Tales film series with a glittery dinner afterwards.

And Bergdorf Goodman is celebrating the opening of a Fenty pop-up show with rumors that the label’s creator Rihanna will attend.

New Designers

Just because there aren’t as many big name designers showing at this Fashion Week isn’t necessarily bad. Longtime New York fashion publicist Chris Constable is asking the fashion faithful to venture outside their regular repertoire and take a chance on someone new.

“Choose a designer brand you are interested in, attend the event and then develop an interest,” he says. “This may allow someone to nurture that new Calvin (Klein) or Donna (Karan) we keep talking about so damn much, so that there are brands that will continue to show during NYFW you want to see and see succeed.”

Raisa Vanessa_FW20_Inspiration
“Marrakech Spark” is the inspiration for the Raisa Vanessa fall/winter ’20 collection. (Courtesy of Raisa Vanessa)

This season he’s touting Todd Thomas, who is known for creating the Victoria Secret’s Fashion Show and has designed custom pieces for Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and Debbie Harry, and Graham Tyler, an avant-garde designer with a background in millinery.

Others to watch include CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Christopher John Rogers, luxury ready-to-wear designer Jonathan Cohen, and a new line of sustainable fashion from former SUNO designer Erin Beatty called Rentrayage, where everything is made entirely from secondhand and vintage garments.

A host of designers from around the world will also showcase their collections. Concept Korea features three popular labels from South Korea (LIE, IISE, and LEYII) while Istanbul-based luxury brand Raisa Vanessa debuted at New York Fashion Week last September and is returning to unveil its Fall ’20 collection.

“NYFW is the best platform to introduce our brand to the world and we feel very fortunate to show amongst the best designers in the world,” designers Raisa and Vanessa Sason note.

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