NY Fashion Week kicks off, Kanye headlines day one

Kanye West (centre) arriving to present his third Yeezy collection at Madison Square Garden on Feb 11.
Kanye West (centre) arriving to present his third Yeezy collection at Madison Square Garden on Feb 11. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - New York Fashion Week kicked off Thursday as models, bloggers and style queens braved the bitter cold to flock to the first shows as designers strive to make collections more inclusive than ever.

The highlight of the day was rapper Kanye West presenting his third Yeezy collection at Madison Square Garden, in conjunction with the worldwide release of his new album, The Life of Pablo. The boundary-pushing rapper, who has in the past compared himself to Michelangelo and floated an apparent bid for US president in 2020, booked out the city's most iconic arena for his show.

The 18,000 seats were for paying spectators only, with tickets originally ranging from US$50 (S$69.45) to US$135 and the general public, which does not normally have access to Fashion Week, more than welcome.

The show was broadcast in 700 cinemas across 23 countries, busting out of the more traditional confines of a fashion audience as in attendance at Nicholas K and BCBG Max Azria on Thursday.

BCBG unveiled its fall/winter collection at Moynihan Station, which last season became the new fashion week headquarters, saying its muse was a performer with "individualistic style" and "artistic ingenuity." It unveiled a rich winter palette of light grey, cream and camel paired with merlot, ink blue and carbon. There was lots of layering, knits and denim, with colour-blocked bags and shearling-trimmed footwear to emphasize the "whimsical carefree spirit" of the muse.

But with social networks making every new trend public knowledge in an instant and customers used to getting what they want at the press of a button, Fashion Week is asking how it can deliver in today's world.

Traditionally, top fashion journalists, celebrities and socialites are the ones invited to an exclusive invitation-only show to see collections which go on sale in shops only six months later.

But the fall/winter 2016 collections being presented on the runway this week will now go on sale much more quickly.

Instagram and other social networks have ruptured the patience of the fashion-forward. Several brands have said their collections are tailored to the current season and will go on sale immediately.

Designer Rebecca Minkoff, whose show is on Sunday, is among them.

"Everything you see on the runway will be available between right away and 60 days from now," she explained in a YouTube video. "So there is not going to be image fatigue. You're not going to be sick of the jacket you saw on everyone's Instagram feed and all the websites."

Designer Tom Ford has said he will take the same approach as Minkoff in September, but is sitting out the February fashion round.

Luxury brand Burberry has also announced that, beginning in September, it will put its collections on sale immediately, following two shows that will feature non-seasonal creations.

Fashion Week's traditional format has already begun crumbling under the weight of celebrities who are turning the affair into a spectacle.

And it's not just West's hotly anticipated, blockbuster show on Thursday. Among other celebrities widening the market is superstar singer Rihanna, who will present her collection for Puma on Friday.

Last season in September, Givenchy admitted 800 members of the public, chosen by random draw, to its spectacular show on the banks of the Hudson River, bathed in the glow of the glittering Manhattan skyline.

A total of 147 designers are on Fashion Week's official roster this month, with 97 catwalk shows and 50 presentations. Still more designers will present their creations independently.

Some of the biggest names to watch are Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung, Alexander Wang, Altuzarra, Victoria Beckham, Diane Von Furstenberg, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs.