Unbuttoned: Everything You Need to Know About This Fashion Season

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The world is topsy-turvy — on this we all agree. But when down is up and up is down, and everyone is busy looking in all directions at once because so much is going on (Super Bowl! Grammys! Oscars! Trump!), what happens to hemlines? Flux, of course. Fashion is not exempt. Disruption is the overriding trend of the ready-to-wear season. Cities, separation of the sexes, and the very shape of a show are just some of the elements under scrutiny. As fashion month begins in New York on Thursday and continues through the last of the Paris shows on March 7, here is what you need to know to stay on top of it all:

Exodus From New York

If last season Paris was the city to watch, thanks to four new designers making debuts at four old houses, this time New York is where the action is, in part because it is in the midst of what may be a permanent reassessment of the city’s role in the system. It starts with an exodus. Three designers (count ’em) have momentarily decamped to Los Angeles: Tommy Hilfiger, Rachel Comey and Rebecca Minkoff. Another — Hood by Air — has jumped ship to Paris, a surprising move given that in New York, H.B.A. qualifies for super-establishment-challenging-brand-of-the-moment status, but in Paris, land of fashion fantasy, its experimentations may seem less must-see.

Still, it is not the only brand seduced by Paris. Vera Wang made a movie instead of having a runway show and is releasing it during the Paris collections (she is getting the Légion d’Honneur, so it makes some sense). Rodarte has decided to move its show to the Paris couture in July, so it’s sitting this season out. Proenza Schouler will be joining them too, but at least it’s having a New York swan song. DKNY, under new ownership, is reassessing, so it’s out entirely. Tom Ford is busy with his film so he’s — well, he hasn’t decided exactly what he’s doing, but a spokeswoman said whatever it is, it won’t be a normal show. Opening Ceremony opted to costume a New York City Ballet production last month in lieu of its show. This may sound like rats leaving a sinking ship, but there is another way to think of it: opportunity!

What Do You Mean, Opportunity?

We’ve been complaining about an overcrowded schedule for years; now there is a chance to breathe — and for some enterprising designers, a chance to grab the spotlight. Certainly, this is how Raf Simons, making his debut at Calvin Klein on Friday in what is hands-down the most anticipated moment of the week, is thinking (if he can make that brand relevant again, it will be a game-changer). He not only moved the show to the front of the week, instead of its usual closing slot, but he is also debuting his men’s and women’s wear together, on the same runway, the better to send a clear message about the newly unified aesthetic of the brand. Also his own arrival.

Carpe Diem! Likewise seizing the moment to make some news and jumping on the dual sexes bandwagon is Stuart Vevers at Coach. Then there are Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, the new creative directors at Oscar de la Renta, who are introducing a different kind of combination, and merging their first outing for the brand with their own brand, Monse, by using the latter as something of an opening act for the former. It’s a one-two punch of complementary aesthetics (or so everyone hopes) that has never been done. Most designers who do two brands are worried about sowing confusion by co-mingling. But maybe this will create a new paradigm for partnership between old and new.

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Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, the new creative directors at Oscar de le Renta, will merge their first outing for the brand with their own brand, Monse.

Credit
Andrew White for The New York Times;

And speaking of new: Philipp Plein, the Swiss P. T. Barnum of fashion, is bringing his special brand of showmanship to New York for the first time (normally he shows in Milan). Expect superstars! Expect fire and brimstone! Expect social media meltdown! Expect him to out-Kanye Kanye — who is back from his mental-rest days and showing again, despite the rather irate reaction to his last show. Will he keep his hubris in check? Given his friend-of-Trump status, will Melania attend? Or she will show up at Ralph Lauren, to support the creator of her Inauguration Day suit? We’ll have to wait and see. But there is one politician who we know for sure is making a guest appearance during the week.

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