Vivienne Tam Spring 2023

New York Fashion Week (NYFW) represents different things to different people. For some fashion industry professionals NYFW is the opportunity to see the collections for the upcoming season before the clothes appear online and in brick and mortars. For some industry professionals NYFW portends where the fashion industry in projecting via trends, color palettes, silhouettes, and inclusion and exclusion. For some folks NYFW is a variety of TikTok and Instagram moments; for others NYFW is a traveling party from one afterparty to the next. And lastly, for some fashion designers/brands NYFW is the platform to showcase a new direction or reinvention.

That said, in this post-pandemic era many fashion designers are looking for a new direction for their brand, as well as seeking new audiences. Vivienne Tam is one such designer.

Vivienne Tam has always been known for her distinctive use of bold floral prints and bold color. Every season Tam finds innovative ways to take traditional silhouettes and transform those tried-and-true silhouettes to an innovative distillation that reflects current trends with a fashion-forward sensibility. Her customer has consistently included that quirky downtown fashionista that wants to be the first to wear a trend or that marches to the beat of her own drum. Added that very special downtown young fashion hipster is Tam’s fondness among very hip Gen Xers.

At this outing Tam attempted to expand her consumer by incorporating metaverse and crypto aesthetics. “I wanted the creators of these NFTs—Cyperkongz, CryptoPunks, Awkward Astronauts, and Bored Ape Yacht Club characters—even those unfamiliar with NFTs, to be excited and to think, ‘Wow, they’re alive!’” Tam said in a press release. In other words, Tam wanted to “rewire the current fashion landscape.”

And that she did. Still, it was not the Vivienne Tam that many of us love and adore. This was a different Tam that might not sit well with her diehard fans.

Gone were the interesting twists on floral prints, bold colors, and traditional silhouettes. This new and yet to proven Tam really tried to go after the “floater generation.” A generation that cares more about comfort and ease of movement than elegance and style.

What was still in place is Tam’s penchant for good construction and whimsy. Was this collection a pseudo homage to Woodstock or the new fashion metaverse? It was hard to tell.

Though there were some very cool denim jackets in this collection, most of the looks were assemblage of throwaway separates. There was an early 70s-vibe, carnation bell-bottomed pantsuit that demonstrated Tam at her best.

Images courtesy of Seventh House PR

Overall, this collection had very little to say and was somewhat a misstep for Tam. Particularly, the addition of the rail-thin male models with matted hair that looked one step away from a concentration camp or a detox clinic.

Stay with what works and expand upon that, Vivienne. Better luck next time.

—William S. Gooch

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