Power shoulders, size acceptance, social activism chic and more.
Between pantsuits and pussy bows, Leslie Jones’ dress debacle and a spate of designer shakeups, Kanye West’s runway fiasco, and Kim Kardashian’s Paris Fashion Week robbery, 2016 had more than its share of buzzy fashion moments.
But as we prepare to turn the page on a new calendar year, it’s time to look forward at the news and trends that will shape the industry in 2017. Here are seven predictions.
All eyes will be on the former model on Jan. 20 when Donald Trump takes office on Inauguration Day, to see what she will be wearing to the official ceremony and the Inaugural balls that night, particularly after the war of words that erupted shortly after the election, with several designers coming out and refusing to dress the wife of the divisive president-elect (Sophie Theallet, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford), and a handful saying they would be proud to support the democratic process and dress the new First Lady (Tommy Hilfiger, Diane Von Furstenberg).
Throughout the campaign, Melania wore mostly European labels, including Emilia Wickstead, Roksanda Ilinicic and Gucci (who can forget that infamous pussy bow), but like other first ladies, she will now face pressure to wear American labels and support the American fashion industry. In 2008, Michelle Obama wore an Isabel Toledo outfit during the day, followed by a white Jason Wu gown at night. In 2012, she wore Thom Browne during the day and Wu at night.
My bet is that Melania will go with Ralph Lauren. Though Lauren outfitted Trump rival Hillary Clinton in many of her signature pantsuits throughout the campaign, Melania wore a Lauren jumpsuit to the final presidential debate, and another on Election Night, buying both looks off-the-rack rather than working through the brand’s celebrity services team, which Clinton has done.
Though Lauren enjoys a cozy relationship with Clinton (she honored the designer at the Smithsonian in 2014, presenting him with the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal), he was quiet about dressing her on the campaign trail, suggesting that he might have wanted to keep his publically-traded company (which is also the longterm official outfitter of the non-partisan U.S. Olympic team) out of the political fray.
Hollywood’s stylists and celebrities will join protesters descending on Washington D.C. during Inauguration weekend for the Jan. 21 Million Woman March, channeling their frustration over the election into action. (Predictably, several enterprising folks are tailoring wares for the movement, including the Pussy Hat Project.)
A feminist impulse already started to seep into fashion back in October, at Maria Grazia Chiuri’s debut runway show for Dior, when a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “We Should All Be Feminists” became the emblematic piece of the entire spring 2017 fashion season. Whether it’s negotiating equal pay (Emmy Rossum), standing up for clean water rights in Standing Rock (Shailene Woodley), campaigning for LGBTQ rights (transgender model/actress and Gucci muse Hari Nef), finding a cause — and wearing it on your sleeve (or t-shirt) — is only getting cooler.
For decades, L.A. has struggled to maintain a traditional fashion week due to a variety of factors, including scheduling issues, New York-centric media and retail buying offices, and a lack of a single tentpole event. But when Tommy Hilfiger shows his second installment of the Tommy x Gigi label he launched with supermodel Gigi Hadid in sunny Venice Beach on Feb. 8, the city’s runway fortunes may change. Like his carnival-themed show held in New York in September, this one will be consumer-facing, featuring a runway collection available to purchase immediately after it is shown.
In recent years, international luxury labels Saint Laurent, Burberry and Louis Vuitton have all swooped in to stage high-profile events in Southern California (Dior joins them, with Maria Grazia Chiuri staging her resort show here in May). But what makes the February go-around feel different is that several designers are trading New York Fashion Week for sunny L.A.. In addition to Hilfiger, who will show at Windward Plaza, designers Rachel Zoe and Rachel Comey will both hold L.A.-based presentations that same week. Rebecca Minkoff is setting up at the Grove shopping mall, where she’ll stage a show a see-now, buy-now collection for fans, and Tom Ford will once again stage his runway show to coincide with the Oscars.
The shift reflects the decentralization of the world’s four fashion weeks and the reimagining of the runway, as designers aim to surprise consumers with alternative format shows and experiences. It also speaks to the allure of L.A. as a new creative capital, as the balance of power shifts from traditional fashion media titles based in New York, to social media and celebrity channels rooted here.
I expect to see more designers taking advantage of L.A. as a fashion backlot in the coming months, as well as an enhanced version of the popular WME/IMG-produced MADE L.A. runway-retail-consumer event that happened in June 2016, featuring runway shows by Jeremy Scott, Tyler the Creator and Hood by Air.
Ever since Raf Simons was appointed creative director in August, the fashion world has been waiting to see what he will do with the storied fashion house. And on Feb. 10, when he debuts his first combined men’s and women’s show for Calvin Klein, we’ll find out.
Simons is a boundary-pushing designer who made his mark with the red carpet crowd during his three-year tenure at Dior, while at the same time earning street cred for his eponymous men’s brand, which is popular with Kanye West, A$AP Rocky and others.
In his new role, Simons will oversee all aspects of design, global marketing and communications, and visual creative services at Calvin Klein, just as Calvin himself did in the 1980s and ‘90s, when he changed the American fashion landscape with successful licenses for underwear and denim, and famously sexy ad campaigns starring Brooke Shields, Marky Mark, Kate Moss and other pop culture figures. Klein stepped away from the business in 2003 and Francisco Costa was at the helm of the women’s runway collection only until Simons was named as his replacement with wider responsibilities.
The brand already has momentum with a new generation, thanks to a new marketing strategy put in place in early 2015, that put pop juggernaut Justin Bieber in Calvin Klein Underwear ads, followed later that year by reality show star Kendall Jenner fronting for Calvin Klein Jeans, and spearheading the successful #MyCalvins social media campaign. More recently, Instagram star Cameron Dallas has starred in ads for the brand.
It will be up to Simons to create one unifying vision that starts at the top with the runway collection, and filters through to the licensed businesses. And it will be interesting to see how that vision involves the next generation of Hollywood tastemakers.
Fashion’s current nostalgia for all things 1990s, including the classic Calvin Klein look of slip dresses and camel coats, plus Simons’ built-in celebrity draw and ease with the hot category of streetwear should give the new collection a boost. And no doubt, the runway show will have one hell of a front row.
IMG Models president Ivan Bart has called size diversity one of his main priorities, and his star client, Ashley Graham, is exhibit A. The plus-size model had a record year in 2016 — appearing on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, launching her own dress collection, becoming a model mentor for the revamped America's Next Top Model, getting her own Barbie without a thigh gap, and scoring her first Vogue cover with British Vogue's January 2017 issue — all the while inspiring the majority millions of American women who wear a size 14 or over.
“The more we see women of different sizes being comfortable in their own skin, the more we change peoples’ point of view on beauty, and the more we become desensitized to who is a size 0, a size 6 or a size 16,” Bart told THR of his cause.
There were signs of change at New York Fashion Week in September, too, when Christian Siriano, the designer who famously stepped up to help Leslie Jones when she took to Twitter to complain that no designers wanted to dress her for the Ghostbusters premiere, cast five plus-sized models in his runway show.
What’s ahead for 2017? Tim Gunn has spoken out about his wish for all plus-size model season of Project Runway. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Graham got a cover of an American fashion magazine soon, or starring role in a mainstream fashion brand ad campaign. She’s even taken to Instagram to suggest she be cast in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. It has to happen sooner or later. Eventually business opportunity will trump bias.
In an effort to counter the onslaught of online shopping, retail developers will come up with even bigger and better ways to get us to commune around brands. Apple has already banished the store in favor of its new town square retail concept, and fashion brands are paying close attention.
In L.A., the mall is being reinvented, with exclusive restaurant offerings (Laduree now open at the Grove, Eataly coming soon to the new Westfield Century City, and a Michael Mina-helmed food hall coming to a remodeled Beverly Center). Department stores are upping their game, too. New York’s Saks Fifth Avenue will be revamped in the new year with the addition of an outpost of Paris' famed L’Avenue restaurant, an Eric Buterbaugh flower shop and enhanced beauty offerings and treatment rooms.
The power shoulder, a relic of the Working Girl (1988) era, is already starting to replace the cold shoulder as the next big fashion trend. Witness Sarah Paulson in green Prada at the 2016 Emmys, and the spring 2017 Balenciaga runway collection, which zeroed in on the shoulder line with whalebone inserts dramatically exaggerating the silhouette of jackets and coats that were the collection's starring attraction. Will we see a full-on return to shoulder pads? Let’s not worry just yet.