NEW YORK (AP) — Four days of New York Fashion Week's menswear shows previewing spring 2018 collections included Raf Simons' trip to Chinatown and Barbara Sanchez-Kane's models sporting the phrase "alternative facts" drawn on their faces like mustaches. Here are some highlights.
RAINBOOTS AND 'REPLICANTS' AT RAF SIMONS
It wasn't raining at the Raf Simons show, but there were umbrellas, chunky rain boots and thunder, too — from subway trains roaring across the Manhattan Bridge overhead.
Guests — including Jake Gyllenhaal, Julianne Moore, Christian Slater and A$AP Rocky — stood outdoors in a space that serves as a bustling Chinatown market by day. Chinese lanterns hung overhead. Buckets of water were splashed on the ground before the show to make it slick, shiny and, well, wet.
So it wasn't a great night for suede pumps, but the models had the right footwear. They also carried huge umbrellas, some intentionally broken and some not. As they sashayed down a crowded alleyway, those umbrellas occasionally bumped into onlookers leaning in to take photos. Wide-brimmed rain hats came down low over the models' eyes, with scarves around their necks. Bodies were draped with huge slouchy sweaters and voluminous coats. Not much skin was on display.
While this was the menswear show for Simons' eponymous label (he's also creative director for Calvin Klein), some models were women. In any case, they were meant not to be human, but "Replicants" — or androids, a la "Blade Runner," one of Simons' favorite movies. After the show, Simons reflected on how the 1982 Ridley Scott sci-fi film influenced his creative vision.
"'Blade Runner' has been inspiring for many years, and I wondered, 'Why did I never do something that relates to this movie?'" the Belgian designer mused. "But it had to feel right in the circumstances." The Replicants' significance, Simons noted, could also be applied to fashion itself: "It's interesting to think about how fashion can be about cloning, either in a good or a bad way. But that's a longer discussion."
Simons' collection included some Asian references inspired by his jaunt through several Asian countries earlier this year. "I was very inspired by the culture and the mentality," he said. Asked if his emphasis on diverse cultures was connected to the current political situation, he said: "Partly yes. But I was also looking a lot into my own environment and world, and more and more I am opening it."
"It's important for someone in my job to inspire, to make people feel very positive about what they see and experience even if it's just a fashion show," he added.
Simons has had a head-spinning year since moving to New York. In February, he earned raves for his debut Calvin Klein collection. In June he accomplished the extremely rare feat of winning the coveted Council of Fashion Designers of America awards in both womenswear and menswear.
TODD SNYDER DOES THE WORLD
Snyder frequently travels the globe and was considering both his own wanderlust and the diversity of his home base, New York City, for his collection.
His models came in a range of skin tones and wore eclectic spring looks combining stripes, shorts, topcoats, wide trousers and military touches.
"I just felt like with everything that's going on in the world it was important to be more worldly about the inspiration," Snyder said in a backstage interview. "I've been calling it the melting pot of fashion."
His models, more Gen Z than millennial, also represented the fashion of freedom, caring little about old-school fashion rules, said Snyder, who was influenced by trips to Morocco, Japan, China and Dubai.
"This is probably the most mixing I have done," he said.
There were rustic linens and sporty bomber jackets, athletic looks (some part of a Champion collaboration) and hipster-worthy cropped pants with wide turned-up cuffs. A touch of bohemian was present and stripes were worn loose and easy. Many looks were paired with sturdy military dress shoes.
It's the "state we're in today" and a yearning to hit the road again that had Snyder jazzed the most.
"It's more important now to be inclusive. There's a call out for all of us to stand up for what we believe in," he said. "That was really the inspiration."
BARBARA SANCHEZ-KANE GETS EMOTIONAL
With messages like "Haute Couture Barrio" on the back of a deconstructed denim jacket and drawn-on mustaches reading, "Alternative Facts" and "Moral Panic," Mexican designer Barbara Sanchez-Kane took on her own emotions, questioned family, society and religious roles, and put an edge on the politics of both gender and Mexican-American relations.
And that's just this season.
With her own written diaries as a guide, always, the 29-year-old who lives in the Yucatan's Merida put on her first major solo show. Heritage and the emotional chaos of navigating rigid cultural rules when all one wants to do is break out translated into fiery embroidery (courtesy of Mayan craftspeople back home) and bits of wraparound pieces in fabric and metal symbolizing restriction.
Sanchez-Kane had her models congregate on the runway around a copy machine. They grabbed images of themselves, taped them to walls then snatched them off, balled them up and threw them to the ground.
Among her written messages was a T-shirt emblazoned with "Freelance Lover." On another garment, she used a powerful phrase in Spanish that translates to: "Violence in gender kills woman." A third message, on the back of a jacket in red type, reads in English:
Much of what she was getting at, she said in a backstage interview, mashed up in her mind as "smuggling" of all kinds.
"To me, smuggling is hiding, at the end, so if you're repressed about your feelings you're hiding it, and so I associated that for the pattern making. It's about that hiding feeling, when people don't want you to be that certain thing when you grow up. In Mexico, society is very strict."
Sanchez-Kane originally studied industrial engineering. When she wanted to drop out of college and switch to fashion design, her American-born mother, Beatriz Kane McNally, insisted she finish her degree.
"She only lacked six courses. I told her she could do whatever she wanted after," said Kane McNally, sitting in her daughter's front row.
Sanchez-Kane completed a degree in fashion design in Florence, and industrial engineering plays a role in her work.
"I think I went to menswear because of that. For me, designing flowy dresses will never work because engineering for me is very rigid. That translates to men's bodies. I use a lot of metalwork that comes from the engineering," she said.
This collection included a pair of metal, high-heeled women's legs, spread-eagled in one look. She used the same image in a wall projection as her models walked, including a solitary female model dressed for battle in military green with bulky storage bulges that resembled ammo packs down the legs.
So what does Beatriz think now of her daughter's designs?
"I don't understand much of it, truthfully," she said. "Sometimes when she asks me, 'Do you like it?' I say, 'You're asking the wrong person. I don't know that much about fashion.'"
BODE NEW YORK'S ATTIC TRIP
Emily Adams Bode is a whisperer of vintage textiles, from 1900s mattress covers to delicate table linens, lush bath towels and monogrammed bedsheets from the '50s and '60s.
For her latest collection, she was inspired by a trip to the south of France, where she discovered a relative's "grenier," or attic. An uncle once lived there, along with his grandmother before him.
"The attic is symbolic of a space of protection, of memories of yesteryear," said Bode, who launched her Bode New York last July. "As I was in France I drove around for around two weeks and collected a bunch of antique textiles, so 90 percent of the collection is cut from one-of-a-kind textiles."
Best known for her work in vintage quilts, this season — for her third collection — Bode incorporated old tapestries and chintz, the latter for a short-sleeved button-down shirt with a huge leafy tree on the back. White trousers cut from a sheet had a red monogram on one leg matching one on the bed where the model reclined. Bode's show space was filled with beds for models to pose on.
So why vintage textiles? Bode has sought them since she was a girl in Atlanta.
"A lot of them are labors of love, and to reincorporate that into clothing that is worn every day, it can be cherished again," she said.
The story of each is important to Bode.
"I grew up antiquing with my mother and my aunts so I think I've always been drawn to historical textiles," she said.
Bode sourced more than 100 pieces for the show, stripes and checks among them, others white and still others in bold pinks, yellows and greens. She mixed patterns and did include some quilted pieces. The linens, though, stood out. One pair of pink and white trousers was patterned in white flowers with red leaves. Another model wore clam diggers made from a flour sack. A third had on a stunning tapestry jacket with a grande dame on the pocket.
"I try not to cut quilts or textiles that are pristine or perfect," Bode said. "If I feel like I don't want to cut it we save it or sell it to a dealer who's going sell it to somebody for their home."
Bode, 28, has been using some dealers since she was a kid.
"In Cape Cod I have this one dealer who's in his late 80s named Homer who I still buy from, and he saves things for me," she said. "He gets excited. I send him my look books."