After so many years in the industry, I’ve seen Fashion Week from every different angle. Before styling or starting this site, I designed clothes for many years, and remember well the chaos and stress of debuting a new collection and putting on a runway show. It’s an enormous task involving months of prep work and armies of people along the way. Lots of fabric selections and draping and patterns and fittings, lots of sketches and stitches, lots of trial and error and delayed deliveries, creative breakthroughs and emotional meltdowns all go into pulling it off. And they all culminate hours then minutes then moments before the show, in the ultimate mayhem that is the backstage. BACKSTAGE. Rows of hair, makeup, and manicure stations are constructed. Dozens of beauty artisans stand armed, ready to spring into action as the models trickle in in fits and spurts, most running late from other shows ~ delayed by traffic, fittings, and sundry fashion emergencies. The energy quickly evolves from a controlled, professional buzzing to a chaotic cacophony, as the models are followed by flocks of photographers. A runway show is about telling a story, crafting a sensory experience, a world, a context, a desire. The audience must be transported, transfixed; every detail is important. Thus the models are primped from every angle, unified, molded into a character, into the girl who fits the script. This season at Donna Karan, that character was strong and sleek. Her hair was ironed flat and pulled through slim, centered barrettes ~ described by the show’s lead hairstylist, Eugene Souleiman, as something vaguely in the realm of neo-Mohican. In fashion, digging up and remixing these sorts of loose visual references is part of the creative process, the vocabulary, the ability to delegate such epic productions to sprawling, itinerant teams. The makeup, led by Charlotte Tilbury for MAC, was influenced by the seventies heyday of famously-bronzed goddesses like Marisa Berenson and Lauren Hutton. Cheeks were made to look so rosy, so shiny that one felt that the models might actually be hot, brows full and furrowed, sweating under a South African sun. Deeper into the backstage area, in a section cordoned off from the hair and makeup stations (and all the mess-making inherent to their processes), we finally find the clothes, waiting to be shown. Carefully pressed and steamed, every inch studied for loose threads in need of a quick clip, hang the shimmering new samples. These are the prototypes that will be used for the stores to place their orders, for magazines and sites like mine to borrow and shoot for editorial stories, and for celebrities to wear on the red carpet. The runway images will be broadcast all over the world, used internally and externally to further the brand’s identity, to drum up excitement and sales. In the grander scheme of things, every season the collections serve to gradually evolve our eye, as part of an entire system of myth-making and dream-building and general cultural progression. Trends are the history we’re living in. Every gesture ~ down to how exactly a belt is to be buckled and precisely which way a shoe is to be tied ~ is planned out in advance. Nothing is left to chance. Somebody somewhere has put a lot of thought into what order those clothes come out in, how a hat is tilted and how a handbag is worn. The more exacting the execution, the more convincing the fantasy. I believe a good runway presentation is like a great movie, in that it leaves such a vivid, sweeping impression on your mind that days later, eyes closed, you can still feel what it’s like to be that woman in those clothes ~ and in a Donna Karan collection, every woman is an icon. This season’s clothes emerged in shades of terracotta, sky and saffron, the blues of sunrise and the fires on the horizon when it sets. The cut work, hand-blocked prints, and baked vegetable dyes told a story of a world-traveled woman, a glamorous gypsy, a good witch, a warrior. |PHOTOGRAPHY| by Austin Phelps |CLICK HERE| to read about what I wore to the show
|SPEAKING OF WELL-TRAVELED WOMEN| make sure you’re following me on Instagram ~ I’m soon to be off on some pretty epic adventures, and you won’t want to miss a minute of it!