The Spring/Summer 2008 NY ‘Shows’ officially began on Wednesday, September 4th. Twice a year, NYC welcomes both national and international buyers, press, stylists and socialites to view collections of the next season. The Big Apple kicks things off, then the mayhem continues in London (although not nearly as many folks attend), Milan and Paris. This season I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself thinking about all of the different ways I have participated in various fashion week elements over the years. While studying at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) I often volunteered to be a dresser backstage during the shows. Eventually I even got paid for it. I’ve been a dresser both here in NY and in London. I’ve worked with publicists to collect RSVPs and plan seating charts (that was beyond stressful - the politics!), I’ve worked with publicists to check attendees in as well (yeah, I had a clipboard and everything), I’ve assisted a designer in putting on her own fashion week showroom presentation and lastly I’ve covered the shows as a journalist. Well, after all of that, I still get excited during fashion week. The anticipation of discovering a promising new line or even appreciating the talent of old faves truly gets ‘ole Bsquared a little pumped. But what I don’t enjoy is the celebrity circus that NY Fashion Week has become. Call me jaded but, I don’t attend shows to gawk at celebs in the front row - I go to see the clothes and observe the hair and make-up trends. I certainly understand why the celebs are there, but when is enough going to be enough?
This season I didn’t get to attend very many shows at all because my paying gig had me quite busy over the last week and a half. Writing blogs is fun but mama likes her 401k more. And honestly, I didn’t get invited to very many either. That’s the truth, Ruth. But, based on what I did see, hear and read, I’m giving my take on the people, places and things that were memorable from S/S ’08 NY Fashion Week.
We’re gonna start things off with people. Oh, but first I have to mention that I was a cheesin’ fool after meeting Robin Givhan of the Washington Post outside the tents the second day of fashion week. We had spoken on the phone (I interviewed her for a story.) but never actually met in person. Robin is the first person to win a Pulitzer Prize for fashion criticism and just happens to be a Black woman. Meeting her and getting the chance to catch up in person really made my day. Oh, oh, oh and I also had the opportunity to interview Alek Wek for another blog (For church and state reasons, I can’t name the other blog here…) which was dope. It was a very impromptu situation but I was pumped. I had been in Alek’s presence before (as a dresser back in late 90’s) but it was a delight to finally meet her. Alek’s accomplishments as a model, entrepreneur and now author are certainly admirable. But, I have so much respect for how she always pays homage to her deceased father. So I guess I do get excited over more than the clothes - just not the folks that appear in US Weekly and In Touch…
On to the real good stuff! Below are the peeps that raised more than a few eyebrows during NY’s recent S/S ’08 shows…
The People Pleaser: Harriette Cole
Her creative director seat at Ebony magazine is barely warm but Harriette Cole already has the fashion and publishing industries buzzing. In less than a year, she’s turned Ebony from a bit of a snore to a must-read. Who can forget the July issue with no cover images, no salacious coverlines, just the question: ‘Who you calling a …?’ Genius. Trust me, in the publishing industry, that takes a lot of balls. Even with her outstanding credentials: best-selling author, fashion and then lifestyle director at Essence, columnist for The New York Daily News, Editor in Chief of Uptown - what she created within the pages of the September 2007 issue of Ebony is nothing short of remarkable. Clearly, I’m not alone in this thinking because Harriette was honored in a fete at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 5th. My girl Alek Wek, Andre Leon Talley, Tracy Reese and even Cicely Tyson attended to show their support. Harriette, I can’t wait to see what’s next!
More Than A Trophy: Alexis Phifer
Alexis Phifer is the designer/creator of the up and coming Ghita label. She’s also engaged to hip-pop star Kayne West. Last week was her NY Fashion Week debut. Now before we go comparing her to Kai Milla, Kimora Lee Simmons and Rachel Roy (who are all quite talented - for different reasons- in their own right) it is important to note that Ms. Phifer did (reportedly) attend design school years before even meeting the Louis Vuitton Don. Her Ghita line is sold in Henri Bendel. (I’ve always appreciated Bendels for taking chances on new designers.) Is she reaping some benefits through her relationship to Kayne? Absolutely. But, from what I have seen thus far, her stuff is sexy, tasteful and wearable. My fave designers include Tracy Reese, Alice Temperley and Catherine Malandrino so I’m definitely a sucker for feminine and detailed frocks. A fashion stylist friend attended the show and had this to say. "The collection was [primarily] Grecian style dresses, with a lil' PVC detail to trick it out and futuristic inspired accessories." Of course, designing is only the beginning. Production and distribution are another and those are the areas where so many new designers drop the ball. I’m sure loads of retailers are now interested in carrying the line so the pressure is on for Ghita to perform. Time will tell. In the meantime, I’m happy to see a sister doing her thing.
Model Behavior: Sabina Karlsson
The moment I saw her begin the Cynthia Steffe show I thought to myself, ‘Who is she?’ Well, she is Sabina Karlsson. She hails from Sweden and apparently was a final contestant on Sweden’s Next Top Model. She has a massive amount of frizzy, red hair that just won’t stop. She also has freckles, and a full nose and full lips. She is not skinny to the point of looking emaciated. She is someone I expect to see a lot more of - both on the runways and in print. In addition to Cynthia Steffe, she walked in the Abaeté, Heatherette and Tracy Reese shows. Mark my words, Sabina Karlsson is one to watch.