The 9 Winners and Losers of New York Fashion Week

5:07 PM 9/16/2016

by Sam Reed

A rundown of who succeeded and who failed this season.

Kanye West and Tommy Hilfiger
Kanye West and Tommy Hilfiger
Pierre Suu, Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images

This season of New York Fashion Week will go down in history as a turning point for the industry. With the “see-now, buy-now” approach gaining steam, and many brands showing in-season clothes aimed not at insiders but at the wider social media audience, designers were forced reconsider the entire purpose of a fashion show — is it about the clothes or the spectacle?

Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger and Kanye West answered the dilemma by creating over-the-top, sharable extravaganzas. But for some (cough, Kanye, cough) the risk backfired.

Another shock to the fashion system? Models of all sizes and ages featured on some of the biggest catwalks this season, including Christian Siriano and Ralph Lauren.

In case you missed it, we’ve compiled a full list of NYFW winners and losers to help you make sense of 9 days of madness.   

  • Tommy Hilfiger: Winner

    Gigi Hadid and Tommy Hilfiger
    Gigi Hadid and Tommy Hilfiger
    Randy Brooke/Getty Images

    When Tommy Hilfiger tapped supermodel Gigi Hadid to collaborate on a collection, it wasn’t because of the 21-year-old supe's impressive sewing skills. The designer knew that with Hadid came her massive social following of more than 22.8 million wallets — we mean, fans. 

    To fully maximize this base, Hilfiger constructed “Tommy Pier” at South Street Seaport, a full carnival experience with fair games, a Ferris wheel, a tattoo parlor, mozzarella sticks — oh, and a fashion show.

    Of the 2,000 or so guests, half were customers slash Hadid fans who had credit cards at the ready to purchase Tommy x Gigi merch at any one of the four pop-ups within the carnival. Reactions to the festival on social media were overwhelmingly positive, a good sign for the brand as the collection was also available immediately to buy online (each piece was showcased on Instagram as it hit the runway and featured a handy, shoppable link). The clothes might not be winning over the critics, but the brand can definitely call New York Fashion Week a success.

  • Kanye West: Loser

    Kanye West
    Kanye West
    Booth Moore

    Mr. West kicked off Fashion Week by herding fashion’s elite editors, buyers and other industry notables onto crowded, silent coach buses, which shuttled them across Manhattan to Roosevelt Island, a mostly residential 2-mile strip of land in the East River.

    Despite the lack of water or tunes on board the bus, spirits were initially high, as guests hoped for yet another Yeezy spectacular to make up for the hour long trip in the middle of a busy work day.

    Soon, however, things took a turn for the worse, as guests were made to stand outside (next to an abandoned smallpox hospital, no less) in the stuffy September heat as the show was postponed an hour. Eventually Yeezy’s now signature formation of models, again arranged by the hand of artist Vanessa Beecroft, was revealed on the grass.

    However the heavy heat and spandex-like ensembles did not bode well for the models, who were forced to take a seat on the grass (a few of those who did not, fainted as a result). Add to all of this a collection of lackluster clothes and unwalkable heels, which more than one model removed mid-runway, and five-hour odyssey was obliterated on social media. Veterans of the industry, including model Amber Valleta and Tim Gunn, criticized ‘Ye, leading him to kind of apologize for the mess.

  • Tom Ford: Winner

    Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

    Just hours after the spectacular disaster that was Yeezy season 4, designer-turned-Hollywood director Tom Ford showed his collection at the famous Four Seasons restaurant, and you can bet he pulled out all the stops.

    The dinner-and-a-show event was not only one of the classiest that New York Fashion Week has ever seen, but it also had the most star power. Among the guests were Jon Hamm, Julianne Moore and Tom Hanks — it might as well have been a red carpet movie premiere. Ford certainly had the vision for the event. The Nocturnal Animals director hired a Golden Globes cameraman to direct the filming of the show, for the livestream with 22 cameras in all.

    Like Hilfiger, Ford’s luxe fall collection of extravagant coats and sexy pencil skirts, as well as a few red-carpet ready gowns, was immediately shoppable.  

  • Ralph Lauren: Loser

    Ralph Lauren
    Ralph Lauren
    Randy Brooke/Getty Images

    In terms of the “see-now, buy-now” phenomenon, Ralph Lauren was a bit late to the game. The designer didn’t announce until Monday — two days ahead of his show on the second to last day of NYFW — that he would be participating in the movement, and broke the news. At that point, given Ford and Hilfiger’s ground-breaking shows earlier in the week, the revelation felt a bit stale.

    Unlike Alexander Wang, who caused a ruckus when he revealed his own surprise — a collaboration with Adidas — Lauren’s last-minute surprise lacked the shock value it intended. The collection didn't break much new ground, either. 

  • Hillary Clinton: Winner

    Getty Images

    Although Hillary Clinton may not have personally had her best week (pneumonia will do that to you), she was certainly repped well at New York Fashion Week. The Tuesday before the shows, longtime supporter, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, held a fashion show fundraiser in her honor, featuring pieces from all-star designers and labels Diane Von Furstenberg and Rag & Bone, who also contributed to her “Made for History” collection of campaign tees.

    Several designers wore their support for Clinton at their own shows, too, including Baja East designers Scott Studenberg and John Targon, outfitted in Hillary tees, as well as Alice + Olivia’s Stacey Bendet, who wore an “I’m With Her” skirt which she created in collaboration with Donald Robertson.

    At Michael Kors’ presentation, performer Rufus Wainwright namechecked the Democratic nominee, while the presenters at Opening Ceremony’s celeb-heavy presentation lobbied the crowd to vote. In the words of Whoopi Goldberg, “If you don’t vote, you can’t bitch.”

  • Carrie Brownstein: Winner

    JP Yim/Getty Images

    Though she’s not a designer, Portlandia co-creator Carrie Brownstein, a longtime friend of Opening Ceremony and Kenzo’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, had an extra-busy Fashion Week herself.

    Not only did she co-host Opening Ceremony’s fashion show with pal Fred Armisen, but she also made her directorial debut with a short film for Kenzo called The Realest Real (which she also wrote) starring Natasha Lyonne, Rowan Blanchard and Kim Gordon.

    At the five-minute flick’s premiere on Tuesday night, Brownstein said of the comedy short, which is about the effects of social media on our everyday behavior, “Each of us is always performing so it does become about these micro-expressions ... because we're always turning the lens toward ourselves. ... What used to be sort of unconscious has become very conscientious and a little bit forced."

  • Christian Siriano: Winner

    Booth Moore

    Once again, Chrisitian Siriano made headlines as a champion of size diversity and inclusivity. The audience at his Capri-themed spring presentation — including his star-studded front row, with celeb fans Christina Hendricks, Ashley Graham and Pam Anderson — erupted into cheers after five larger-size models hit the catwalk, seamlessly woven into the show among the smaller-sized ladies. The Project Runway alum, who also has a collection for Lane Bryant, has become something of a figurehead for dressing non-sample-sized women, after he volunteered to outfit Leslie Jones for the Ghostbusters premiere when the actress tweeted that other designers refused to do so.

    Though a few smaller brands (including Chromat) have cast larger models in their shows previously, Siriano marks the first of the red-carpet heavy hitters to do so, setting a precedent among his contemporaries.

    This Fashion Week also saw older models on the runways of Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford and Tracy Reese (vets Amber Valleta and Stella Tennant included), making this season a big one in terms of model diversity.  

  • Makeup: Loser

    Jason Wu Beauty
    Jason Wu Beauty
    Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/Getty Images

    For what feels like the umpteenth season in a row, the “no-makeup makeup” look ruled supreme, with natural-looking ladies strutting down the runway. (Perhaps taking a page out of the Alicia Keys no-makeup playbook?)

    With a few exceptions, including Thom Browne’s turquoise lips and Rosie Assoulin’s floral accents, the makeup didn’t feel as new and refreshing as it has in seasons past. 

  • Band of Outsiders: Loser

    Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

    Hopes were high for Band of Outsiders, the Los Angeles brand founded by former CAA agent Scott Sternberg in 2004, as it made its return to Fashion Week with brand new designers at the helm. (Sternberg walked away from the label in 2015.)

    Despite their best efforts, however, the trio of new designers from Antwerp failed to capture the cool, idiosyncratic California style that the brand was founded upon, instead showing a collection that felt more like an L.A. cliché than a fresh or innovative take on the eccentric side of SoCal’s style.