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NYFW preview: Devoid of many global brands but boasting a new generation of black talent

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New York Fashion Week opens this Thursday denuded of many powerhouse and influential designers, though with a new generation of talent, many of them people of color, poised to take up the baton of style in America’s fashion capital.

Sergio Hudson – Spring-Summer2024 – Womenswear – New York – © Launchmetrics

The season will be devoid of Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Narcisco Rodriguez, Diane Von Furstenberg, Vera Wang and Marc Jacobs, albeit in the latter case, because Marc showed last week way-off calendar.

That said, powerhouses like Michael Kors and Coach are very much present. Along with Tommy Hilfiger – whose rise from smalltown boy to global mega brand is the definition of the American Dream itself. Tommy makes a welcome return to the season – to one of the nation’s most iconic settings, the Oyster Bar inside Grande Central Station. See y’all under the clock.

The city will also welcome one of France’s most singular talents, Ludovic de Saint Sernin, who will stage his New York debut in the Starrett-Lehigh building, a giant, block-sized brick and glass building so huge, its elevators can carry large-scale trucks. It’s the site of many shows including Wiederhoeft, Bach Mai, Area and Sergio Hudson.
 
The latter is one a slew of powerful designers of color who have brilliantly shaken up the design scene in New York. Other important names in this generation include Raul Lopez of Luar, a CFDA Accessories Designer of the Year winner, whose next show will be held in a former factory in a still industrial corner of  Williamsburg; or Willy Chavarria, who will show nearby in a Greenpoint warehouse.
 
Others among this happening posse are Romeo Hunte, a master of edgy nightclub glamour and all-American luxury master who has dressed the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Idris Elba, Laverne Cox, James Harden, Maluma, Dwyane Wade, Jennifer Hudson, Hailey Bieber, and former First Lady Michelle Obama. And then there is LaQuan Smith, who channels elements of Versace and Cavalli though very much on his own body con terms. Another name on the must-watch list is Bishme Cromartie, a Baltimore, Maryland born talent, who blends snappy tailoring, upbeat glamour and sexy silhouettes, who will show inside the Ritz Carlton.  
 

Khaite – Spring-Summer2024 – Womenswear – New York – © Launchmetrics

All told, there will be 72 shows – including eight pure menswear – on the official calendar of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the industry’s governing body, along with a further 19 presentations and eight digital releases.
 
Karl Lagerfeld was famous for never allowing other designers to attend any of his shows, on the grounds that they would probably pinch some of his ideas. American designers, a more collegial bunch, frequently attend each other’s events in large numbers.
 
So, expect Jacobs – who staged a surreal show early February where models with bouffant wigs looked dwarfed below giant oversized office furniture – to attend the latest show by Anna Sui, and fellow former grungista. Sui’s shows are small but in recent seasons, essential viewing. And given her literary bent it’s no surprise that Sui’s next show location is America’s most famous bookstore, The Strand on Broadway.
 
The season debuts Thursday evening with a CFDA cocktail in Tribeca, and ends Wednesday evening with Thom Browne, the current chairman of its board.
 
In a sense, the sheer drama of New York’s unique architecture, seaside location and giant urban vistas are very much part of the city’s runway aesthetic and particular energy. Which courses through one’s bones as one ranges about the city from posh social clubs like The Harmonie on Central Park for Christian Cowan to Hudson River piers, like for Khaite, probably the hottest fashion brands in America today.
 
No tour of fashion duty in New York is complete without a show in a skyscraper. This season, Carolina Herrera’s designer Wes Gordon has invited guests to the 41st floor of a river front tower on Maiden Lane, the better see his cast parade before the morning glory of New York Bay.
 
 

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