Sep 10, 2016
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Hilfiger eyes fashion revolution with click-and-buy show

Sep 10, 2016

Tommy Hilfiger sought to revolutionize fashion Friday by throwing the most extravagant catwalk show of his life, launching his click-and-buy collection by throwing a fairground party with burgers and fries.

Model Gigi Hadid walks the runway during the Tommy Hilfiger fall 2016 collection presented at New York Fashion Week in New York, September 9, 2016©TREVOR COLLENS / AFP

The American designer, who has turned an eye for style into a multi-billion-dollar global enterprise, has lavished millions on upending his production schedule and teaming up with the supermodel of the moment, Gigi Hadid, to create a fall/winter collection in her image.

It's a huge gamble that the 65-year-old Hilfiger hopes will pay off in sales. Each piece on the catwalk was available to buy instantly. He envisions that high sales will cement the revolution and more designers will follow in his footsteps.

"We're on the cusp of a revolution. The whole industry is changing," he told AFP. "People want things now."

This season's Fashion Week is in flux, with big names such as Hilfiger and Tom Ford leading the way in presenting fall/winter collections and others sticking to the traditional spring/summer calendar in which clothes typically won't hit the stores for months.

The digital revolution means catwalk shows are now broadcast live and social media zaps pictures of clothes around the world in seconds, meaning that people no longer want to wait before acquiring the goods.

Renowned for his opulent catwalk sets, Hilfiger outdid himself by laying on a truly unique show. Customers could immediately shop every look online as it went down the runway or at interactive touch screens at the party.

"We're creating a memorable experience, we're listening to the consumer -- she wants instant gratification," Hilfiger told AFP.

- Millions -

The calorie-conscious fashion set may not have been enthused by the offerings but guests were treated to free donuts, lobster rolls, sliders, cones of French fries, ice pops and cotton candy.

There was water and lemonade on tap, a Ferris wheel and merry-go-round to ride, a pop-up temporary tattoo parlor, a manicure station and various arcade-style games.

The U.S. press had buzzed for days that it was his most expensive fashion show of his 30-year career, but was it really?

"Oh yeah, by far!" Hilfiger confessed backstage to AFP, perspiring in the heat before the show.

By how much?

"Millions! How about that!" he said with a laugh.

Rain was forecast, and while the heavens opened later, the gods somehow held out for Hilfiger even if the oppressive heat left the audience frantically fanning themselves with their program notes.

It was a glorious setting, on a pier overlooking Brooklyn Bridge surrounded by the churning waters of the East River and with the sparkling New York skyline as a backdrop.

Striding down the runway to open a show live streamed across the globe must have been an extraordinary moment for the 21-year-old Hadid.

But gaze fixed, skin flawless and poured into skin-tight leather pants, she was far too professional to show any nerves.

Only when she stepped out hand-in-hand with Hilfiger at the end did she crack a smile and dance a little in delight.

- 'Iconic' -

The clothes personified the young model's casual, sporty Californian style -- flattering for the figures of coltish young 20-somethings.

There were hoodies, track suits, fun basketball jersey-style dresses, silk boxing shorts, high-waisted bell-bottom trousers, and cropped leather jackets with a giant anchor and Hadid scrawled on the back.

It may not be cutting-edge, but it was classic Tommy -- a mix of American collegiate chic and smart cool that has turned his label into a phenomenon.

Models come and go, but Hilfiger describes Hadid as "just one of the coolest -- I would say iconic -- young people on the earth."

"Designers usually use models to model, they never use models to design. I tapped into Gigi's style and we've been working together," Hilfiger told AFP.

Satisfaction will be in the sales. If the clothes fly off the proverbial online shelves and out of his stores, the huge outlay will have been worth it and other brands will no doubt follow.

On Saturday, Hilfiger's pier will be open to the public.

Only time will tell if his customers love Hadid as much as he does. He'll certainly be hoping that as many of her 22.5 million Instagram followers as possible will start shopping at Tommy Hilfiger.

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