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Military, spacey looks on the runway; technology in the crowd

NEW YORK — Remember clapping? As in when a fashion designer puts on his runway finale and then takes a bow before an adoring crowd.

The fashion hordes these days are way too busy tweeting, Instagramming and taking video with their smartphones to put those busy hands together. But more often than not, so are the fashion houses.

Technology has taken over in important ways for designers and was ready made for this New York Fashion Week as the huge storm had the elite teetering around Manhattan in blowing snow, clutching those phones.

Audiences had already been on the bandwagon, taking phone pics from their seats and posting reviews online before the models were off the runway, but designers are figuring out how to use all the instant feedback to their advantage.

Before the snow hit, information went out to retailers, editors, stylists and bloggers on how to view the Donna Karan and Helmut Lang shows online and through phone apps for those unable to attend in person.

Rachel Roy and Peter Som switched to entirely digital catwalk shows. Rebecca Minkoff and Kenneth Cole beamed live tweets on the walls, with Cole pledging donations to amFAR if a certain hashtag was used during the show.

Tommy Hilfiger collected curated interactions — and added some himself — that were shared with guests entering and exiting his menswear show. He planned to do the same Sunday for his women’s collection.

Still clutching those phones, the crowds dealt this weekend with the storm’s mush of an aftermath in their dash around town and at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents at Lincoln Center.

The industry will shift to Milan, London and then Paris after the shows close here Feb. 14.


Military touches are shorthand in high fashion for strength and confidence. Gurung added some exclamation points, specifically citing as his muse a woman in combat.

There has been much in the news — and Gurung is a newshound — about the Pentagon’s decision to open more on-the-ground options to women and also technological advances in women’s body armor.

“They’re redesigning the whole uniform for women because all this while they’ve been wearing men’s uniform,” he said backstage.

That led Gurung to think about women’s empowerment, all the way to women he read about from the Ukraine who are coming together in self-defense against human trafficking.

There were smart jackets with gold hardware and some with red-and-black brocades, crisp navy suits, and leather harnesses over stretch-crepe dresses with sexy slashes on the bodice and asymmetric peplums and hemlines.

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There had to be a little femininity mixed in with the aggressiveness, Gurung explained, because it’s femininity that gives women their best tool “to rule a man’s world.”


Minkoff named her colors after planets and other spacey things.

A winter white was “Saturn” and used for a leather motocross jacket. The color caramel became “eclipse” for a leather duffel coat.

Minkoff put a twist on the colorblocking trend that has been around now a few seasons by mixing chunks of different textures instead of contrasting hues. That technique was also seen on the runways of Jason Wu and Nicole Miller.

Minkoff’s soft-line exaggerated shoulder, instead of the aggressive ones that were so popular on the runways a few years ago (and in the 1980s), also turned up elsewhere.

The collection “embarks on a voyage to the future, marrying modern, spacesuit-like construction details and a new sophisticated grunge attitude,” Minkoff wrote in her notes.


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