News

Tom Ford’s Orgy of Glitz

New York Fashion Week ended, much as it had begun, with a blinding dose of déjà vu.

“I feel like I’m in a time machine,” said a guest, lounging on one of the white banquettes at the Tom Ford show, ogling Madonna in black satin. The show was being held downtown on Vesey Street, but the vibe was like nothing so much as Milan, circa 1998, and Mr. Ford’s Gucci heyday. Back when he was excavating the 1970s for hedonistic fashion fun and the ’80s for high glitz, embracing the follow spot, subverting the beigeness of the double G and boogying on the lip of the bad taste volcano.

This time, however, he seemed to jump right in. It was like a lost-days-of-disco nightmare of pastel Lurex, Studio 54 cowgirls, Elvis-in-Vegas embroidered velvet hot pants, lace G-strings and shine, updated with a dash of athletic wear and set to the beat of Robert Palmer thrumming “Addicted to Love.”

Tom Ford, spring 2023. Credit…Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times

Mr. Ford’s signature satin shirts, generally unbuttoned to the navel, were here: in rose pink, embroidered with flowers and faux western fringe and paired with crinkled silver sports shorts. A turquoise metallic blazer (he cuts a mean blazer) came with a lilac metallic pencil skirt, a peekaboo bralet and iridescent over-the-knee grape boots. Mesh tank tops were strewn with strategically placed rhinestone florals and matched with cargo shorts appliquéd with sequin hearts and stars.

The finale — after an interregnum of black leather, lingerie and silk tracksuits — was a series of jewel-toned disco gowns encrusted in sequins, overdosed on sparkle. Sparkle taken to its ultimate extreme, that place where it becomes something altogether darker and kind of desperate. Glamour at this pitch can be exhausting.

Tom Ford, spring 2023. Credit…Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times

Still it was a reminder, after a week in which terms like “sexy” and “Y2K” have been trending, that Mr. Ford defined both for a time. Like Michael Kors, whose polished collection of urban tropicana — slick blazers and sarong skirts trimmed in acres of silk fringe; hibiscus print silks and jersey columns suspended from gold neck pieces — had a self-assurance honed at the turn of the millennium, his work shaped the ideas of the generation of designers who came after.

Michael Kors, spring 2023.Credit…Michael Kors
Michael Kors, spring 2023.Credit…Michael Kors

Designers like, for example, Edvin Thompson of Theophilio, named emerging designer of the year at the 2021 CFDA awards, who directly referenced Mr. Ford’s influence (it’s nice to see a designer give credit where credit is due) in his embrace of body-con and branding genius, mix-mashed with the story of his journey from Jamaica to New York.

Theophilio, spring 2023. Credit…Arturo Holmes/Getty Images For Nyfw: The Shows

“I [heart] TP” was picked out in rhinestones on T-shirts paired with two-tone leather biker pants, and there were “TP” belt buckles and “TP” embroidery on tailored jackets. Theophilio graffiti was splashed over souvenir shop images printed atop ribbed knit miniskirts and teeny dresses and covered in translucent sequins. There was even a hot take on the disco satin shirt speckled with little “TPs” that connected straight back to TF.

Credit…Mich Cardin

Just as there was a direct line from Mr. Kors’s mix of gold sequins and camel tailoring to Brandon Maxwell, where miniskirts covered in silver sequins and pastel flowers were paired with white T-shirts and tailored men’s wear jackets in baby pink and lilac, and white tank tops layered under gold embroidery and worn with black leather overalls, the bibs left dangling at the waist.

(By contrast, it’s hard to tell what’s going on at Batsheva, where Batsheva Hay is smartly trying to move away from the prairie dresses that made her name, but she doesn’t seem to have figured out what direction to take next. Ruffled PVC and lollipop schoolgirl frocks are not the answer.)

As it happens, Mr. Kors’s front row included Mayor Eric Adams, Anna Wintour and Anne Hathaway, who was wearing a brown leather jacket startlingly reminiscent of the brown leather jacket her character Andy Sachs wore in “The Devil Wears Prada,” a choice that sent viewers sliding down another wormhole into the past. Also in attendance: Serena Williams, who knows something about ceding ground to those who would come next with grace and style.

As the last song of Mr. Ford’s show went, “Time waits for no one.” Mr. Ford recently stepped down as chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and is reportedly selling his company. The fashion power structure is in the midst of a generational shift. Blingy as it is, all this nostalgia is starting to seem like nothing so much as a postscript.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button