New York Fashion Week 2016: Music x Fashion
As the flood of photos, clips, and selfies at this year’s New York Fashion Week (NYFW) inundated our lives via iPhone, one very distinct feature seemed to stand out far more than in the past: the music. From live opera performances at Givenchy to a choir of monks at Prabal Gurung, Korean Trap-Rap at the V-Files Runway to Tinashe and Lil Wayne at the Alexander Wang after-party, it appears that music is becoming increasingly intertwined with fashion. The idea of a runway show as a spectacle has manifested overwhelmingly throughout the last decade, and as such, the music has also become an indispensible component of the show. What is a horror movie without the suspense of dissonant chords and sudden percussion? Similarly, what is a 2015 NYFW presentation without the thrill of live musical performances? Most commonly, designers are bringing in musicians to hype up the crowd pre- and post- show, with more complimentary, perhaps mellow, beats during the actual runway presentation. https://instagram.com/p/7h1BrKN25w/
Ave Maria Finale @ Givenchy
Two exceptions to this norm, however, are Givenchy and V-Files, two very different houses. Givenchy, an internationally established French house of haute couture, unveiled its Spring/Summer 2016 collection on Friday, September 11th at Pier 26. Headed by Creative Director Riccardo Tisci, this was Givenchy’s first-ever runway show in New York City. As Tisci explained to the International Business Times,
I’m obsessed with music and art, so I came to New York [when I was 19] because I wanted to discover. It was the Nineties – club scene, [night club] Body & Soul, hip-hop. Rock was ending, and we were starting hip-hop and R&B…I got inside [the club] and this mix of culture of all people dressing very cool, normal, chilled. And the music was insane. And I remember I was flying…
Tisci’s interpretation of New York as a cultural synthesis was certainly translated in every aspect of his first NYC show. Fashion-wise, the pieces took on dimensions of both high-couture and urban street style. The models, faces adorned with gems and tulle, were carefully clothed in sequined and lacey slips matched with oversized black trousers and silky overcoats. The pre-show featured a choir of Tibetan monks, chanting as they overlooked the Tribeca-based runway set made up of recycled metal panels and man-made waterfalls. As the runway show began, a robe-cloaked singer serenaded the audience, finishing with a haunting rendition of Ave Maria.
V-Files, in contrast, presents a collective of young and upcoming designers. Based in SoHo, this coop-like brand provides forthcoming designers, stylists, makeup artists, and musicians with the opportunity to present their talents at the world’s most heralded fashion stage. The clothes blurred all gender lines, consisting of deconstructed jackets and gowns, oversized sleeves, hoods, and pockets, and teensy, shiny one pieces donned by both men and women. Accordingly, the music included a live DJ set by Canadian producer A-Trak. A-Trak dropped lots of deep house, intertwined with heavenly, stretched-out trance melodies, hardcore trap-gone-techno beats, and even some tropical notes. Mid-show, however, the music paused for a moment as the entire runway went black. Suddenly, we heard the unmistakable first beats of Keith Ape’s viral rendition of OG Maco’s “U Guessed It,” otherwise known as “It G Ma” (Don’t Forget). The Korean trap-rapper bolted out onto the runway alongside Ken Rebel and squad. In true V-Files fashion, the audience was left feeling hyped, confused, and simply captivated. You can watch the full runway show here, at VFiles.com.
Keith Ape @ VFiles Runway
Alexander Wang’s Spring/Summer 2016 show took a similar approach, except on a grander scale. While V-Files embodies its mission as an up-and-coming collective of talented young people, Wang, while also young, represents a designer who has come to know fame and success for one decade now. He has become a household name, thrown around in daily conversations perpetuated by Wang’s presence in the lyrics of artists such as Kanye West, Vic Mensa, and 2 Chainz. In fact, his installment at this year’s NYFW represents his 10th anniversary of his eponymous brand. It screamed classic Wang, mixing bold, primary colors with a wide variety of textures: mesh, leather, denim, chains, fringe, and more. The runway show was supplemented by two tunes: “F*ck the Summer Up” by Leikeli and “Bad Girls (Switch Remix)” by M.I.A. Equally sassy, these tracks presented an apt ambience for the heavily street-influenced collection. After the final walk, Wang ran out onto the runway to wave and thank the audience. The room suddenly went dark, and a runway-wide screen projected a 5-minute long video of Wang’s come-up over the past ten years. Beginning with white noise, we first see a young, friendly Wang saying “Hi, I’m Alex Wang” to the camera. The clip continued with flashes of models backstage and time lapses of previous shows, throughout which we hear splashes of Michael Jackson, Courtney Love, Die Antwood, and Diplo. It finishes with an endearing Wang greeting the audience with, “So happy you could make it here today.” As the video comes to a close, the area behind the audience slowly lights up, revealing an afterparty decked out with pole-dancers, jello shots, and Hooters girls and sliders.
The party boasted appearances by model-beauties such as Issa Lish and Binx Walton, musicians including (but certainly not limited to) Nicki Minaj, The Weeknd, and Lady Gaga, and other famous people like The Fat Jew and James Goldstein. The party looked like an incredible time, but that may go precisely against Wang’s previous sentiments. In an interview with W Magazine, Wang explained “Me, when I throw a party, I want to be able to disappear into it and let my hair down.” That was perhaps his inspiration in throwing this 10th anniversary bash, but its widespread publicity through celebrity social media and online magazines may have foiled that mission. In reference to the Council of Fashion Designers of America afterparty, held at the ever-flashy Boom Boom Room atop the Standard hotel, Wang stated, “It was one of those parties meant to look amazing in photos, but actually being there you were just smahed up against too many people under bright lights.” This sounds familiar – it actually sounds exactly what his 10th anniversary party was: a star-studded event that looked absolutely perfect through photos. Musically speaking, the show included performances by top-40’s artists that spoke directly to Wang’s love for American rap and hip-hop (you can see his personal party playlist here). The set-list included R&B darling Tinashe, rap-crack-head (in a good way) Lil Wayne, and the always bumpin’ Ludacris.
Clearly, music continues to influence artists in all facets of their work. From Austrian opera inspiring Parisian couture, to modern garments reflecting traces of K-trap, the line between these cultural elements has become increasingly blurred – and I love it. Music is not to detract from the show, but to enrich, uplift, and intensify the entire experience of NYFW.