NY Fashion Week: king of cool versus king of bling

NEW YORK (AFP) - Two of fashion's most flamboyant headline grabbers went head to head Saturday (Sept 9), as king of cool Alexander Wang bussed some of the world's most famous models to an open-air Brooklyn runway and king of bling Philipp Plein laid on a striptease and invited Nicki Minaj.

New York Fashion Week, which kicks off the spring/summer 2018 season before the global bandwagon decamps to London, Paris and Milan, comes with designers desperately looking to create the biggest buzz.

Wang, the US wunderkid and ex-creative director of Balenciaga known as a party animal, opted for Bushwick, the traditionally working-class, Latino neighborhood now known among urban millennials for boho affordability in a financially exorbitant New York.

Cindy Crawford's 16-year-old daughter Kaia Gerber, making her fashion week debut this season, opened the show, treading effortlessly off a luxury #WangFest bus in stilettos and a little white dress.

She was joined by the most headline grabbing models of the moment: Kendall Jenner, half sister of Kim Kardashian and this week honored as fashion icon of the decade at the tender age of 21, and Bella Hadid.

Die-hard fans stood behind metal barriers shrieking when they saw their idols or Wang running along, hair flying. Some looked bemused.

His website broadcast footage from inside the buses of the models riding around New York, before finally reaching Bushwick.

Wang, the superstar who defines downtown cool, stuck to his playbook of black, beige and white. It was his second consecutive show off the beaten track, last season dragging fashionistas to gentrifying Harlem.

A hundred wristbands for the show were distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis at his boutique in SoHo on Saturday morning.

It came as he launched a Swarovski crystal clutch, fashioned to look like a roll of US$100 (S$134) bills with an elastic band down the middle, designed in collaboration with bag designer Judith Leiber.

Bondage bling

Across town, within sight of the Empire State Building and down the road from homeless people, Philipp Plein threw the most extravagant of parties, laying on an orgasmic display of flesh and titillation.

Burlesque artist Dita Von Teese opened the night with a striptease, shedding her stilettos, sequined evening dress and corset down to just a thong, nipple clamps and sequined garters.

She then writhed and splashed inside a giant martini glass, sponging herself down, sloshing water everywhere, kicking her long, lean legs into the air before winking with a little toss of the head.

The clothes, overshadowed by a live performance from rapper Future, cloaked in a giant gold puffa coat, seemed an afterthought. The first model appeared only at 10.30pm - 90 minutes behind schedule.

Entitled "Good Gone Bad" they wore oversized Heidi-style plaits, which they switched and flicked like whips, striding out in bondage-style harness dresses, leather dog collars and flashing bare buttocks.

Actress Teyana Taylor, modeling the skimpiest of black lace body suits, writhing on the floor. Other women wore daisy-style pacifiers.

Male models went topless. In the middle of the stage back-up dancers writhed and prostrated themselves on giant scaffolding.

Before the show hundreds of guests endured scenes of chaos outside, pushing and shoving their way to the front of slow-moving queues in a haze of expensive perfume, cigarette smoke and simmering frustration.

"I have to apologise," Plein told those who made it through.

"It became a monster, hard to control," he said of his ultra-expensive, international luxe take on hip-hop wear and street clothes, much of it monogrammed with his name.

The German-born, Swiss-based designer then invited everyone at the Hammerstein ballroom, a former opera house to the after party, where Minaj - seated in the front row - was expected to perform.

"We like just the right amount of wrong," he told the New York Post. "Just because fashion is a big business doesn't mean that it has to be stiff and serious."