Models dance on the runway at the Tommy Hilfiger show © AFP
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At its halfway point, New York Fashion Week has seen a higher-than-average quotient of twirling, two-stepping, and even just smiling models. Selling high-energy optimism isn’t exactly easy, and some of the theatrics have felt a bit forced. But all the same, a livelier show tends to stick. The stone-faced, non-emotive stomping that runway movement ordinarily entails, less so.

At the Apollo — the legendary theatre in Harlem — Tommy Hilfiger presented the second and final wave of his partnership with Euphoria actress Zendaya. Stylist Law Roach also served as an adviser (“image architect”) on the see-now buy-now clothes, which consisted of leggy, flared pants, fitted blazers, flyaway scarves, and a general rather . . . let’s say . . . overdone vision of upper uptown New York from decades past. But, whatever one thought of the exercise, the models were enjoying it in the moment, as was the crowd. 

Tommy Hilfiger
Tommy Hilfiger © Jason Lloyd-Evans
Tommy Hilfiger
Tommy Hilfiger © Jason Lloyd-Evans
Tommy Hilfiger
Tommy Hilfiger © Jason Lloyd-Evans

Deveaux, a fashion house led by the ex-street style photographer Tommy Ton, had moving and shaking as well. At nine in the morning! Ton’s designs were unobtrusively neutral, with billowing kaftans, away-from-the-body tops, and simple, pretty dresses with cutouts at their sides. Great for gambolling. Why were they dancing? It was a beautiful not quite summer yet still not quite fall morning, and it was a Sunday. There was live music, including a marching band. And the clothes were saleable and stylish.

Deveaux
Deveaux © Jason Lloyd-Evans
Deveaux
Deveaux © Jason Lloyd-Evans
Deveaux
Deveaux © Jason Lloyd-Evans

There is a designer who landed on the scene last season named Tomo Koizumi. His oeuvre, at least on the international stage, includes heavily ruffled, polychromatic pieces. This season, he added bows to the drama. But it wasn’t the clothes that particularly impressed (more evolution is needed to see what this designer is fully capable of); it was the 18-year-old model Ariel Nicholson, who performed interpretive dance for an hour with a spiked conehead hair-do. She writhed about Marc Jacobs’ store, which served as the presentation’s venue, and won rave reviews across the industry. Nicholson, who is transgender, is a model to watch.

Tomo Koizumi © Getty
Tomo Koizumi © Getty

Frolicking and prancing has been seen elsewhere, too. Many of the models at Sies Marjan twirled at the same spot in front of the cameras, Brandon Maxwell usually has a peppy soundtrack, and there’s always a jazz-hands moment in turn (plus, he launched menswear, which is reason to celebrate). 

Whether this jollity will last, and whether it ultimately will be felt as authentic, remains up in the air. Overall, New York Fashion Week is off to an uneven, hit-and-miss start, but at least dancing masks the wobbles.

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