Style & Fashion

New York Fashion Week

DKNY features girl-gang chic at NYFW

The Daily Beast

September 13, 2016

At the end of DKNY’s show, beautifully and dramatically staged on a section of the High Line near its 14th Street southern end, the label’s designers, Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osbourne didn’t do a customary simple bow and disappear.

They bounded the length of the runway stage area, lapping up the occasional high-five, roar and applause, straight to the bank of runway photographers.

This may have been the appropriate farewell salvo after a night of girl-gang chic, but it may also have struck a note of defiance: this was the duo’s fourth collection for DKNY, with the brand’s, and its designers future—as sketched in a recent Racked article—an unknown since LVMH sold the label to G-III.

Any jitteriness behind closed doors was invisible on Monday night. The evening began with a light show skimming the High Line’s foliage and surrounding buildings, accompanied by dramatic classical piano.

The celebrity audience included Anna Wintour, Russell Westbrook, Tinashe, and Bella Hadid leading the model pack. Her mother, Yolanda Foster, famous herself as one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, looked proudly on, looking pretty fabulous herself in a silver jacket.

The collection, said Chow and Osbourne, sought to find “new meanings in the codes of DKNY, in which the aspirational meets the practical,” presumably hopefully resulting in the profitable.

“The resulting collection resides in a futuristic place called ‘Neo Soho,’” the men said. (Please let this new NYC neighborhood have affordable rents, as well as beautiful clothes.)

The men said their streetwear meets athletic-wear meets softly feminine, layered tailoring was a “solutions-based foundation to the millennial wardrobe”—as opposed to one grabbing a T-shirt and pair of jeans and hoping for the best.

Under fiery orange lights, we saw skirts, draped and short at the front, longer at the back. There were hooded jumpsuits, with cutouts and design trickery that made the pieces fold and drape in a theater of sexy confrontation: Little Red Riding Hood meets Rocky; or ‘Jedi knights,’ as one Twitter wag had it.

The designers said that the contrasts built into the clothes were based around “soft and hard, elegance and street, tech and tradition, construction and deconstruction.”

This was apparent, not just in the much-photographed hooded jumpsuits, but also in the tailoring of separates which came fitted as well as distressed, with strands and tassels hanging from the base of jackets.

Turquoise, a color that can muffle more than can it intrigue, was used brilliantly; Raglan jackets combined with bike shorts; a luxe-looking white backless sweater and skirt was followed by sweaters with rougher edges, and bomber jackets of floaty nylon paired with tulle skirts. The DKNY logo was much in evidence, although it reminded you that the DKNY ‘career woman’ archetype of years ago had long been jettisoned.

Masculinity and femininity were scrambled in the design of knits and suits, and colors at first seemed simple before, say, a white shirt received a luxuriant splash of orange on its reverse. Jackets had a straitjacket-y feel to them, trousers flared and draped. There was a playful hippiness to the layering and daintiness of floaty skirts mixed with the punch of a jumpsuit or structured jacket.

Jerseys came with scoop-necks, and skin-revealing gaps in their arms. Overalls appeared utilitarian, but the trick—as in many of the clothes—was in the detailing of pockets or material layering and add-ons.

If this seemed too much—and what if these hanging strands leave you stuck in a train or cab door, ouch—the designers also served up simple pieces, like stunning jersey dresses.

Chow and Osbourne will hope that the crowd’s warm applause will translate to positive column inches and sales. Reinventing a brand, and making it your own as well as culturally significant and financially successful, is a complex affair, particularly when it is a legacy brand helmed by two designers as independently minded as Chow and Osbourne.

But this latest collection’s confidence spoke for itself and watching both handsome men bound towards the bank of popping and flashing cameras Monday night, one’s most immediate if clichéd thought was: if anyone can do it, they can.