Linder Resort 2020

Linder’s resort 2020 collection was the first resort collection for the namesake brand. Adding resort to its collections of women’s and menswear is an ambitious feat for a brand that only launched in 2016. However, creative director Sam Linder was up for the challenge.

Choosing Pier 29 as the venue for the launch of the brand’s resort collection was a good choice. The outdoor deck decorated with palm fronds and wood-hewn flooring and seats set the mood for a tropical locale, even the event and guests were inundated with torrential rain. Still, the intention was in the right place.

That said; there was a strong 1970s theme in this first resort outing, with a strong color palette of lime green, blue, cream, and off-white. Sam Linder also injected tennis and a Country Club aesthetic evidenced in a color-blocked tennis shorts, Polo shirts with white piping, and a low-neck tank top.

To make the 70s references even stronger Sam Linder threw in a 70s-inspired jogging suit and runner’s shorts with side ventilation. And the jogging suit and runner’s shorts are an integral part of a definitive fashion trend of a glance back to the 70s.

Though many of the garments in this collection could fit into the athleisure wear category, this collection is so much more than that. Sam Linder has done a good job of finding what is still popular about athleisure wear—comfortable fit, ease of movement, and low clothing maintenance—and mixing in some elements of luxury.

Photos courtesy of vogue

Overall, this was a pretty good attempt at resort wear for the brand. Though it may take a couple of seasons for Sam Linder to find his oeuvre in the resort genre, he is definitely on the right path.

—William S. Gooch

Ozwald Boateng at the Apollo

The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s was one of the most revolutionary and creative eras of black history. Harlem, New York became the pinnacle of black intellectual, artistic and social movements, forever changing black culture and putting the merits of black artists on display. Needless to say, even modern-day black contributions to creative industries owe themselves to the work of those who made the Harlem Renaissance happen from Langston Hughes to Countee Cullen to Zora Neale Hurston.

The influence of this movement is still remembered today on a global scale by black creatives around the world, including fashion designer Ozwald Boateng. Boateng is best known for being the first black designer to ever have his own shop on London’s Savile Row in addition to being a former creative director of menswear for Givenchy. For the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, the designer decided to not only stage a show at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theatre, but also launch womenswear as well, which took a see-now-buy-now approach.

In April when it was announced that the designer would be doing a show based on AI, everyone assumed that he meant Artificial Intelligence. As the runway show began, it was clear that this was not an homage to the future of fashion and technology, but, rather, an ode to black arts and culture past, present, and future. In this case, AI stood for “Authentic Identity.”

Boateng, who is of Ghanaian heritage, stayed true to his identity by infusing West African design influences, including tribal prints, in his clothes while blending them with Harlem Renaissance influences. Although womenswear is new for Boateng and a big divergence from traditional Savile Row tailoring, his knowledge of textiles, color, and silhouettes were front and center throughout the collection with his cohesive approach to color and the tailoring of the women’s pieces.

Notably, the majority of the models in Boateng’s show were people of color, an approach that has been bandied about in the fashion industry where diversity and inclusion has become hot topics. And true to form, Boateng’s models reflect the sassiness and sexiness of his designs.

Boateng’s show was truly groundbreaking, not only for him as a designer launching womenswear, but also as a moment in history for Black designers, many of whom go unsung or never reach these merits of notoriety. Remember, the Harlem Renaissance is not only noteworthy for great literature and black arts explosion, but also for the great fashion that the era produced.

Images courtesy of vogue.com

Boateng’s Apollo show was a renaissance of sorts for black models, black designers, and the black fashion intelligentsia, calling for a new age of black fashion in the fashion industry (Note Edward Enninful at British Vogue, Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton, and the rise of Pyer Moss, Laquan Smith, and Romeo Hunte, all garnishing an international audience.)The beauty of black culture received the celebration it deserved, and Boateng didn’t disappoint his audience with this once in a lifetime experience. Ozwald Boateng welcome back to New York City!!

—Kristopher Fraser

Romeo Hunte Fall 2019

Diversity and inclusion have become keywords for many of the collections this season. The Fall 2019 season will exceed other seasons with respect to inclusion of models that represent ranges in size, racial and ethnic diversity, and gender fluidity.

Romeo Hunte had his own take on the fashion industry’s expansiveness by creating a fall 2019 collection that a brother and sister could exchange and wear. Hunte’s androgynous distillation also borrows heavily from New York City’s vogueing ballroom scene of the 1980s with his models prancing and vogueing down the runway, which unfortunately was a bit of distraction from the garments.

As Hunte has proven in previous collections, outerwear is his collections’ strongest point. There was a significant amount or reworked denim jackets and coats, as well as shearling, leather and some nicely worked trench coats. Some of these jackets will do very well in the retail market. Unfortunately, in this collection an androgynous design aesthetic is not Hunte’s forte.

That said; there are several garments in the collection that a woman or a guy’s female sibling could mix and match from the man’s wardrobe; however, this is not true in the reverse. I cannot imagine many male consumers wanting to borrow almost any of these clothes from their female counterparts—not even gender non-conforming types. Not because the clothes are too feminine for guys to borrow, but because, in general, the clothes are just not appealing with too many incohesive ideas going on at the same time; the one exception being the parachute-like satin coats.

Images courtesy of wwd.com

Many of the ladies’ looks in the collection look homemade without the sophistication that modern female consumers demand. That said; the menswear looks did have an element of sophistication and restraint, making the menswear more accessible.Current collection aside, Romeo Hunte is doing something that many US–based black designers—Virgil Abloh, Pyer Moss, Laquan Smith, and Cushnie—are doing; looking to international markets to solidify their consumer base. Hunte recently had a “See Now, Buy Now” fashion show in Nigeria and several of his garments sold right off the runway!! Hmm, pay attend black designers. There is gold in them hills across the Big Pond!!

—William S. Gooch

Hakan Akkaya Fall 2019

 Glam Rock is back!! If you are old enough to remember the New York Dolls, Ziggy Stardust (early 70s David Bowie), the Glitter Band, Gary Glitter, or early Elton John, you know there was time where rockers had long hair, were lots of glittery stage makeup and wore shiny, sparkly tight clothes while they sometimes sang in a falsetto or screamed loudly about love, sex, and rock n’ roll.

We cannot exactly bring that era back, as much fun as the fantasy was—remember music taste have drastically changed—but, the fashion of that era is back with a vengeance. Glam rock fashion reigned at Michael Kors, Paco Rabanne, Faith Connexion, Rick Owens fall 2019 collections, as well as Phillip Plein’s resort 2019 collection. Add to that esteemed list, Hakan Akkaya’s fall 2019 collection.

Not a stranger to New York Fashion Week, this was Hakan Akkaya’s third outing at NYFW: The Shows (NYFS). And in this fall 2019 outing, Akkaya demonstrated that he has the ability to take a retro trend and elevate it a modern distillation of style with a fashion-forward sensibility.

Though Hakan Akkaya’s fall 2019 collection is not for that timid, shrinking violet—there are lots of statement-making pieces in this collection—there were some great separates that could be easily mixed and matched for that consumer that wanted to be fashion forward, but was not looking to overwhelm.

There was lots of silver metallic and shiny black in this collection with touches of pink and other pastel colors through in to balance out the looks. There was also a range of black and white and bold-striped faux fur coats in the collection.

Still, this collection is really for the adventurous consumer who is not afraid to look like they are in a perpetual state of being in route of a rock concert or the main act. Restraint be damned, pull out all the stops and let fantasy be your guide.

Photos courtesy of The Bromley Group

And though there were some fantastic women’s looks in this collection, it was the menswear garments that might have the most retail appeal. Particularly, if that male consumer lives on the edge and is not reticent about making a statement. The women’s looks are lot more niche and perhaps are more limited in their appeal to a wider consumer base.But all that doesn’t really matter. NYFWS needs more fantasy collections like this. In a season where most collections didn’t register on the fashion Richter scale, Hakan Akkaya certainly caused fashion heartbeats to amp up.

Standout looks in the collection, and there many, includes Hakan Akkaya’s men’s silver metallic parachute coat—can you say Norma Kamali?—pewter, shoulder-padded bodysuit, men’s black velvet tuxedo jacket with quilted, silver metallic padding, silver and pewter jogging suit, and off-the-shoulder velvet jumpsuit with sequin-embellished thunderbolt.

The Blonds eat your heart out. You’ve got competition!!

—William S. Gooch

Grungy Gentleman Fall 2019

Like so many brands, Grungy Gentleman is tapping into collaborations. Grungy Gentleman’s creative director Jace Lipstein realizes that with multiple collaborations he is accomplishing a lot of task and expanding is customer base in one blow.

For its fall 2019 collection Grungy Gentleman collaborated with eight collaborators including footwear with Pony, bikes with Schwinn, bags with Footaction, hats with New Era and NBA, slides with Giza, apparel with Renzo Cardoni, Pendleton, and Clinton Hall. The depth and wealth of these collaborations produce a fall 2019 collection that was more vibrant with a stronger design aesthetic than in previous collection.

Grungy Gentleman has established itself as a men’s sportswear brand with deep roots with professional sports team. That said; this affiliation with sports teams continues with sports figures mixed into the runway show along with male models. “[Sports figures] Dave East and Styles P embody everything the Grungy brand wanted this show to be about– an ode to New York City– the grit, the grind, the inimitable style and presence of those who came up here, and the power of collaboration across different generations and categories,” said Ali Moon, talent booker for the show.

Photos courtesy of Grungy Gentleman

Creative director Jace Lipstein expanded the brand’s design aesthetic by included the wider color palette of peach and red accents. These new color accents complimented the brand’s signature aesthetic of color-blocked cotton workout gear with stripes and piping on legs and arms. Lipstein additionally found an ingenious way to incorporate plaids and denim into the brand’s design aesthetic this season.

Good job Jace; continue expanding your sportswear aesthetic!! Just a tip, next season a bit more order and less chaos at your show will serve your fans and fashion industry professionals better. Remember, fashion reviews still matter!!

—William S. Gooch

 

Robert Geller Fall 2019

Almost more than any other menswear designer, Robert Geller finds inspiration and nuance from some of the most unusual sources and references. For his fall 2018 collection, Geller drew from memories of his life in Hamburg, Germany and the joy of hanging out with his friends. He married that youthful reminiscence with Olympic outfits of the 1980s, and Germany army sportswear apparel.This outing was in direct opposition to Geller’s fall 2017, the year of his 10th anniversary. For that collection, Geller shrouded his models in dark symbols of protest and rebellion, as though dystopia had already arrived.

For his fall 2019 collection, the Tibetan mountain climbers inspired Geller and the clothes layering required in such frigid temperatures. Though this is an interesting reference point, it is not unique. References to mountain wear and hiking has been used by many menswear designers in the past—Gilded Age created a beautiful, modern distillation on hiking and mountain apparel in their fall 2012 collection.

That said; Robert Geller did not stop with conjuring up images of mountain hiking apparel. Geller ingeniously combined layered mountain hiking clothes with the dyeing of different textiles techniques that are incorporated into one garment. Working with his Japanese team, they found a way to properly dye nylon, wool, and cotton with all those textiles combined in one garment.

In this fall 2019 collection, Geller also collaborated with athleisure wear company Lululemon on 12 pieces entitled “Take the Moment” that are injected into the collection. The purple line on the headgear distinguishes the Robert x Lululemon garments. With this collaboration, Robert Geller celebrates the marriage of function, performance, and style.

What is the most obvious brilliance of this collection is Geller’s ingenious layering of not only fabrics, but blending the layering into one cohesive look. Unlike many designers where the individual layering garments can be  mixed and matched, Geller created looks that completely standalone as individual fashion ideas. There is no need to pair any of his layering items with something else in the collection or other collections. And though Geller tends to go for more somber color combinations in most of his collections, this season his pops of color complimented his usual somber color palette.

Photos courtesy of Khora Consulting

Standout looks in the collection are the Leopold jacket with Sigmund pant, the Yuri Vest with moon traveler pant, the “Take the Moment” collared long sleeve with “Take the Moment” Jogger, and the Sigmund bomber with the Roberto pant.—William S Gooch

LANDLORD Fall 2019

LANDLORD’s Creative Director Ryohei Kawanishi in his seventh menswear collection went back to school for inspiration for his fall 2019 collection. Initially inspired by the Ivy League—the Darmouth, Princeton, Yale, and Harvard version of higher education—Kawanishi decided to expand his original perspective to include education from kindergarten to graduate school.

This expansion resulted in a collection that was playfully dark with a color palette inspired by building blocks juxtaposed a very relaxed a design aesthetic that bordered on psychotic kid’s play. One would think that a menswear collection inspired by education would be an intellectually hip compendium on style and fashion seen through the lens of brainy pursuits, or at least a fashion-forward, sporty collage of well-known collegiate silhouettes and symbols.

Not so, Kawanishi’s in this fall 2019 lecture conjures up images of an anti-intellectual student; a student that is somberly playful and may be a product of the laid-back stoner and slacker culture. And that stoner slacker culture has a definite, if not significant, place among young consumers.

Kawanishi’s formal meets informal projection, though admirable, just doesn’t quite hit the mark. And one of the downfalls of this collection is Kawanishi’s use of non-traditional models that did not serve the garments well. For fall 2019 lots of designers are including non-traditional models in their collections, and for the most part this inclusion is a fail. This attempt at inclusion only works if the non-traditional models add to the design aesthetic of the collection. Unfortunately, as in most other collection this season, this inclusion is an oddity and detraction, not a relevant expansion.

Photos courtesy of Laforce Stevens NYC

Though this collection does have some great menswear separates—great coach jackets, blazer jackets, and leather coats—combining these traditional collegiate silhouettes with a Crayola-colored palette and neon colors, as well as, the oversized design aesthetic, rendered an incohesive collection. And only a few looks for this collection actually had some retail value.Unfortunately, Ryohei Kawanishi missed the mark in this collection. And with the exception of a few interesting Instagram moments, this fall 2019 collection didn’t have the strong —William S. Gooch

Palomo Spain Fall 2019

There were not many bright spots during the New York Fashion Week: Men’s (NYFWM) fall 2019 season. Amid rumors that this season may be NYFWM’s last season, it was more than evident that NYFWM is a mere shadow of what it was or what it aspired to be.

With the absence of major American menswear brands Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger and others, NYFWM’s fall 2019 season was mostly a miss. However, there were a few bright spots and the shining moment that roused the most attention was Palomo Spain’s fall 2019 collection.

Inspired the rural Spanish of the early 20th Century and Serge Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe, Palomo Spain’s creative director Palomo Gomez found an ingenious way to fuse what seemingly appear to be two disparate ideas the Ballet Russe and rural Spanish culture of the early 20th Century into an almost seamless design aesthetic. And a more interesting and notable aspect to this collection, Palomo Gomez found a way to inject the brand’s signature aesthetic of gender fluidity in a way that was not overwhelming, but added to the brilliance of the collection.

The Ballet Russes in the second decade of its existence was beginning to incorporate Spanish influences into its dance repertoire which was expressed in the music of Manuel de Falla, the choreography of Leonide Massine, and the backdrops and scenery of Pablo Picasso. These influences produced such dance works as “El Sombero de Tres Picos” and “Cuadro Flamenco.”

In this fall 2019 outing, Gomez expertly paired feminine and masculine silhouettes, which is expected. What was superb in this collection is Gomez’s acumen of pairing the feminine with the masculine is a way that is more accessible than in previous seasons.

The ‘new’ or ‘purified’ Palomo Spain is projecting to bring the brand’s historical references into the 21st Century. The brand’s new direction is made evident in the new color palettes. This season Palomo Gomez incorporated grey into the collection, balanced with tones of emerald green, navy blue, and scarlet red. There are also more refined fabrics of heavier wools, silk taffetas, cashmeres, and velvets. The brand even developed its own signature print of a deconstructed polka dot.

There was also a wide array of brand accessories in this collection, ranging from gloves, hats, and bags to shoes and belts. These dynamic accessories came in the signature deconstructed polka dot print, as well as leather and suede. Additionally, there were several garments that could easily be mixed and matched with items within this collection or garments from other collections—particularly the collection’s jackets and skirts.

In spite of the brand’s new direction, what stood out most in this outing was Palomo Spain’s collage of textures, silhouettes, and the masculine juxtaposed against the feminine, all melded in ways that one aesthetic did not overshadow the other, brilliantly complimenting the entire direction of this collection. Where other menswear collections this season did not cause pulses to quicken, Palomo Spain’s fall 2019 collection not only caused fashion palpitations, the collection also elicited refrains of bravissimo and applause.

Images courtesy of Pelonio Press

Now, that is what NYFW should be about. With this collection, Palomo Spain gives fashion industry professionals great hope!!—William S. Gooch

Marcel Ostertag Spring 2019

Marcel Ostertag has presented his collections six times at New York Fashion Week: The Shows (NYFWS). Unlike many designers from across the Big Pond that show one or two times at NYFWS and for some reason don’t get the market traction that’s expected and then call it quits, Marcel Ostertag has stayed the course. And this strategy is starting to pay off.

Marcel Ostertag’s ‘MUSE’ collection is a bold, colorful journey with Marcel Ostertag with the muses in his life and the things that inspire him. Feeling “kissed by his muses,” Ostertags biggest muse or influence in this collection is his mother. “My mother’s love and guidance are always present in my heart.  Her unwavering support allows me to design freely and to follow my creative dreams.”  

In this spring 2019 collection, Ostertag was also inspired by the music and fashion style of the 1970s. The high-waisted, pleated pants and sequined bell sleeve tops, as well as the various takes on the ubiquitous wrap-dress in particular give a nod to 70’s silhouette throughout the collection. Although this 70s reference is very strong and quite dominant throughout the spring 2019 collection, Ostertag makes this collection fresh and very current while touches of Ostertag’s signature aesthetic.

‘MUSE’ is a joyful explosion of yellows, blues, lavenders, oranges and nudes that was summed up perfectly in his Rainbow sweater; a cashmere crew comprising of over 24 shades of brightly colored yarn.  Other highlights of the show were the over embroidered and beaded pants, Iris printed charmeuse ruffle tiered gown, and the blush sequined mesh top.  Standouts from the men’s capsule collection were the oversized color-blocked cashmere hoodie and Fuji silk jumpsuit (as well as a wildly editorial, but ultimately niche version in blush micro sequins).  

If there is one drawback to this collection, it would be that this spring 2019 collection is heavy on garments that are more of an industry professionals’ love or aesthetic, particularly fashion stylists, than something that translates well to American consumers. While a decade ago that was a good thing with fashion editors and fashion industry professionals have more of an influence over consumers’ taste, those days have long past!!

Images courtesy of the Bromley Group

Unfortunately, consumers are now left to their path with some direction being given by social media influencers. Still, this was a very interesting spring 2019 collection and if Ostertag can continue to hang in there, market traction is assured.—William S. Gooch

The Academy of The Arts Spring 2019

If you are scouting for that new, innovative fashion designer that is not afraid to take risks, The Academy of the Arts has a slew of young creatives that fit the bill. Once a year the San Francisco–based fashion design school presents some of their most talented design MFA students during New York Fashion Week: The Shows (NYFWS), usually occurring during the spring collections shows. Though it is a long-extended show, showcasing 5 or 6 garments from each selected MFA student, the show is definitely worth it.

Some years there is some great fashion, reflecting now or next, and some seasons not so much. This season the selected MFA students delivered!!

“The collections reflect the designers’ abilities to explore their individual spirit while mastering their craft. They’ve honored the essence of the industry and carry conscientious practices into textile design, three-dimensional design, tailoring, and construction techniques; at the same time, they’ve intelligently integrated the use of technology and sustainable concepts into their work,” explained Simon Ungless, Executive Director of the School of Fashion.

Some of the standouts for the spring 2019 season were Yoonsuk Lee inspired by the visual associations of the ‘walk of shame,’ the surrealist black and white photography of Vivian Maier and Irving Penn, and his grandfather’s custom-tailored suits; Snezana Anicic-Van Pelt inspired by observations of the ways our society has been shifting; different qualities (identifies) that can coexist as a whole; Mark Kazu Mekaru, Katy Fang Liu, and Yu Ling Chou collaboratively inspired by Miyako Ishiuchi’s photograph of a disintegrated garment destroyed during WWII, along with some elements of the Japanese art of origami, representations of disintegration, peeling, and falling away are incorporated in the garment shapes, textiles and knits; Zhihan Liu inspired by the movie “Shutter Island” with scenes evoking feelings of hurt, pain and darkness, austerity, and purity, and lastly Changsheng Yu inspired by compositions, contrasts and shapes created by natural light and shadows in San Francisco, the black and white photography of Andres Canal and Horst P. Horst, and long-exposure photos of dancers.

Coincidentally, many of The Academy of the Arts selected fashion design students are inspired by film, movement and photography. Hopefully, as these aspiring fashion design transition from their studies to the real world of fashion design they maintain their incredible skill and craftsmanship, never compromising their design acumen for market traction and viability.

Images courtesy of zimbio.com

The Academy of the Arts should continue to be commended for its brilliant assemblage curriculum that enables its student to mine the craft that sets them on a path to greatness. Which is particularly significant in an industry that continues to sacrifice the art of fashion for commercial success. The Academy of the Arts demonstrates the commercial viability and artistic brilliance can be compatible bedfellows!!—William S. Gooch

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