In “Iron Man 3,” Tony Stark, a superhero, struggles with the existential question of whether his suit or his personality are more important. The latter is essential for the fashion industry, which makes its money by selling you clothes you can use to become the best version of yourself. In addition, in recent years, clothing has consistently outshone its wearers, with interchangeable influencers modelling eye-catching trends like micro-kilts, Big Red Boots, and bra tops.
In contrast, the last few days at New York Fashion Week have sent a message that, while clothes are important, it is the person wearing them who makes the statement. The focus this week was on the personalities behind the scenes rather than the wardrobe: The standout Proenza Schouler show was opened by 48-year-old New York cool queen Chlo Sevigny; the cast of “The White Lotus” continued their tour of the zeitgeist; and the late editor André Leon Talley’s wardrobe and art were sold at Christie’s under his ethereal guidance. Even gigantic Rihanna, in her notably casual yet punchy Super Bowl halftime look, echoed the theme from afar.
While metallics, the return of the miniskirt, and creamy Halston-esque wool outerwear were all evident in the fall collections, the week belonged to those with charisma that went beyond their clothing.
How Rihanna dominated Phoenix Fashion Week (s)
No major fashion show would dare take place on Sunday around 8 p.m. EST, when Rihanna was scheduled to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show. As it stood, editors skulked into events late, checking their phones under the table at meals to learn what the pop star would perform and wear. A queenly procession of outfit changes may have been expected, but it turned out that Rihanna’s very presence as a pregnant (surprise!) woman was the real story.
Rihanna wore a sporty all-red outfit to highlight both her and her growing baby bump. Neither was this her most recent pregnancy announcement, in which she showed off her flat stomach, nor was it the marigold-colored Guo Pei gown from the 2015 Met Ball that became a meme. It was a simple outfit, appropriate for teaching a tumbling class to young children.
Jonathan Anderson’s red bodysuit and moulded breastplate for the LVMH label Loewe were revealed beneath a red flight jumpsuit worn by the pop star. The finishing touches on this ensemble were a scarf and a longer coat, both made of scarlet leather puffer material by Alaa. The red puffer appeared to be an homage to a Norma Kamali blanket coat worn by the pop star’s friend, André Leon Talley. She topped off her casual getup with a pair of red sneakers by Maison Margiela MM6 and Salomon.
Closing out in dramatic taffeta, André Leon Talley’s caftans
More than $1 million was raised at the live auction of André Leon Talley’s belongings at Christie’s on February 16. The proceeds will go to the churches he once served (with the online sale still going strong). The editor passed away in 2022, leaving behind a collection as varied and impressive as the man himself: from one-of-a-kind Manolo Blahnik sandals to homoerotic artwork by Karl Lagerfeld, Antonio Lopez, and Herb Ritts to name a few. The $94,500 price tag for a custom set of Louis Vuitton suitcases was 23 times higher than the initial $4,000 price tag.
Mr. Talley’s red Norma Kamali puffer, which allegedly served as inspiration for Rihanna’s Alaa version at the Super Bowl, sold for $25,200.
Mr. Talley’s presence at the opening of the exhibition extended far beyond the physical objects on display. The Abyssinian Baptist Church Choir sang several of Mr. Talley’s favourite songs, including “Respect” and “How I Got Over,” and The Cut’s editor-in-chief, Lindsay Peoples Wagner, spoke about how Mr. Talley helped pave the way for Black creatives in the industry. At the preview, “people flooded the galleries to pay their respects to this larger-than-life figure and marvel at the diversity of his collection,” as Liz Siegel, head of private and iconic collections at Christie’s, put it.
Attended Mr. Talley’s opening wearing Torlowei designs, Nigerian designer Patience Torlowei was in town to show her collection at the Black in Fashion Council showroom. To have her caftans included in the exhibition was an honour, but it also “reminded one of the great loss to our world his absence has been,” she said.
Realist fashion house Proenza Schouler is personified by Chlo Sevigny.
Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler are still the “cool kids” of the New York fashion scene, despite the fact that they have been in business for twenty years. The women they dress are just as impressive, such as Chlo Sevigny (who opened their show) and Sienna Miller (who sat front row). While they may all be well into their 40s now, they still manage to maintain a cool sophistication despite having moved on from the Lit Lounge to the Carlyle and from collecting matchbooks to splurging on Prouvé.
For their fall release, the label paid tribute to their influential female friends like Ms. Sevigny, stylist Camilla Nickerson, singer Sade, and artists Yoko Ono and Louise Bourgeois. The clothes were designed to have no overarching theme or silhouette, instead reflecting how a real working woman might get dressed in the morning: “Throw on this jacket with these slacks and grab this bag.”