NYFW: Madonna steps out for Willy Chavarria and Tom Ford; Aliette wows
It’s always good to end on a high note, right? That is precisely how the Spring 2023 New York Fashion Week season ended; one that had audiences buzzing, one with his own design superstar Tom Ford, another called upon a higher power Willy Chavarria, whose shows were graced by the pop deity Madonna and another recalled the power and love of women, Jason Rembert for Aliette.
Glamour and star power are key ingredients in Ford’s toolkit. And, on Wednesday night, he delivered his sophisticated sexy starting with a runway that oozed classic sleek, cool Ford.
The mirrored runway was flanked by white velvet banquets for the first two rows while ‘opera’ boxes provided rows three and four stocked with private bars and barmen who continued to serve the tequila and gin proffered to guests upon arrival. As usual, Ford’s front row was equally sophisticated, sexy, and funky. Madonna showed up with daughter Lourdes and son Rocco, two of the singer’s six children. Basketball player Russell Westbrook was also in attendance.
From the moment the opening look of a silver blazer with a scant bikini top and baggy shiny shorts bedecked in various heart patches to a remix of Robert Palmer’s "Addicted to Love", palpable, raw energy was felt. (The soundtrack also included ABC’s "The Look of Love', Dead Or Alive’s "You Spin Me Round" and A-Ha’s "Take On Me", each remixed with hip-hop and current pop tunes easily take home best runway music of the week).
In Ford’s case, the feeling is usually sexual energy. But rather than subtle or overt sexiness, this racy outing was more playful and innocent. As in, ‘do my satin cowgirl shirt, and short shorts tantalize?’ It was the sporty nature of many styles; retro Dodger shorts, bomber jackets, baggy trainer pants, and mesh tops that added to the sexual naivete.
Sure there was plenty of overt sizzle, too; bralettes graced almost every look underneath blazers and paired with super low-slung skirts and pants Ford has favored recently. The stunning cutout gowns in jersey or elaborate beading with matching oversized hoop earrings proved that Ford is the godfather of the au courant popular dress style.
In some cases, it was literally sexy with wispy black lace lingerie that Ford, ever the cultural zeitgeist tuning fork, also showed as men's briefs much to the chagrin of Madge, who grimaced and followed the model front to back as the male model sauntered by.
The men had plenty to feel sexy about, too, leather blazers; some with croc effect or made from snakeskin, moires, animal prints, and a Barbie pink color which probably has Ryan Gosling’s name sewn inside to wear to the premiere of the upcoming Barbie movie. Sleek leather pants and tonal ties completed the suit looks.
With their slicked-up, teased-up pompadour hair do’s, they had a retro vibe one remarked as rockabilly, and that made sense when considering the aforementioned satin cowboy shirt complete with fringe or the embroidered shirts with western flare; one editor suggested an Elvis movie influence. Though the hair, music, and even some retro western looks also read the 1980s.
However upbeat the show was, the mood did change for the evening gown and tuxedo looks as Freddie Mercury’s voice belted out his solo hit song "Time Waits for No One. It was hard not to imagine this was a deeply personal moment for Ford, one of looking back and looking forward. With the rumors of his company being on the block for sale, it’s anyone’s guess which direction Ford is looking.
Guests taking in Willy Chavarria's show, who were also trying to navigate the Tom Ford show, were growing antsy as the show, held in the Marble Collegiate Church, was near one hour late. Many assumed it was because of Madonna, who snuck in around 6:50 p.m. with kids and entourage in tow. More likely, it was the act of putting together a Willy Chavarria show involving a community of creatives, each with their own role to fill.
In Chavarria's case, the creatives are usually those walking in the show and tend to highlight the hot boys and ladies of the Latino world: Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Colombians and Mexicans. The designer pulls tropes from the streetwear cultures these members adhere to and elevates them to high fashion.
The designer, Calvin Klein’s creative director by day, is known to play with odd proportion pairings:
shortcoat, wide leg almost skirt-like pants or short pants, and a huge boxy shirt, for instance. This time, his look veered more tailored and polished versus street.
When it did, it tended to reference religion, such a T-shirt reading 'Catechism'. Chavarria has been very vocal about his homophobic Catholic upbringing in rural California; thus, a church, where ritual, community, and devotion come together is apropos. For fans of the brand, a place of worship was fitting to view the clothes they worship. The show, entitled 'Please Rise', was a powerful experience, a religious one with a band of boys in white T-shirts as altar boys, or the proportion of overcoats that were priestly in nature.
Chavarria took his collection and audience to a higher place. Sadly Ms. Ciccone ducked out before ‘communion' taking in all of Chavarria’s design gospel which this season stood for good winning out over evil, according to a release. Considering his recent Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Fashion Design, the designer needn’t worry about losing a congregant; his house is full.
Aliette by Jason Rembert
Backstage before his Spring 2023 show, Jason Rembert paid his respects to women. His mother Louisiane Aliette had died 11 years ago, and watching the love and accolades at her funeral struck him as wondering why people tend to only say these things at funerals.
“I feel like hearing those things about themselves, they would be so happy to hear it. As I have grown up over the last 20 years, I have worked with amazing women, and they never know how dope or dynamic they are. Not enough people tell them, or they clam up and don't receive it,” he told reporters. Thus, he said the premise of his collection was as simple as stopping to smell the proverbial roses.
To that end, the stylist who has dressed Lizzo, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Rita Ora and more, is using his dynamic and vibrant occasion dressing to offer the accolades. In this brightly colored collection of cocktail, evening and red carpet styles, Rembert pushes his ideas further with the use of embroidery. The craftwork is executed by a group of women in India and Rembert credits them with the elaborate beadwork, scoffing at the idea he is building them up with the work contract.
“They are empowering me!" he counters.
In every acid bright under the rainbow, Rembert showed a myriad of craft and techniques, including a manipulated silk that created a shred-effect 3D fabric; taffeta trains that swept five feet behind the wearer; a fully beaded and fringed skirt and matching crop top; beaded tulles and skirts with marabou feathers to assure an Aliette provides empowerment in a dress. Bra cups were clam-like in shape, evoking, in some ways, 'The Birth of Venus' vibe. The designer grew up in Far Rockaway, and some of the beadings seemed to recall starfish. Whether the Queens beach ever produced a starfish or the designer just dreamed it up is up to the viewer to decide.
If it was the shell Rembert was calling to mind, then it makes sense as he referred to women being and feeling protected. Feeling powerful, confident, and secure is the least the designer feels he can do for the fairer sex.
“Every collection is an homage to women. I wouldn't be where I am today without them. I have been raised by powerful, energetic, and amazing women, “ said, adding, “The world would be a greater world if women controlled it."
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