There’s something about the fact that Jenny Packham is a favorite among celebrities, but an oft-ignored designer among the most sophisticated tastemakers in the highest echelons of the fashion world that makes me like her even more.
As The New York Times wrote of Packham—who is a go-to for Adele, Taylor Swift, and Kate Middleton but is loath to have an Anna Wintour or Tavi Gevinson-type at her shows—“Rarely is the gulf between what is desirable on the red carpet and what is desirable on the runway as starkly clear.”
Packham may not reinvent the sartorial wheel in the avant-garde way a devotee of Man Repeller might crave, but her attire goes beyond classic glamour, offering a glittering edginess in their embellishments.
Packham’s New York Fashion Week show not only embraced but ran with that edginess in a glorious, 1970s-ish rock-star way. The lights dimmed, and as Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot” filled the space, sumptuously long dresses in blacks, golds, and bronzes with the most exquisite beading graced the runway.
Then came pinstriped flair pants with a white double-buttoned blazer, not femininely-fitted but almost more similar to a man’s cut. In the most sexy way, it flirted with the masculine side, evoking (to me, at least) David Bowie’s own infectious, gender-blurring style of that era. Many of the models also wore big-eyed sunglasses because, as every rock star knows, the sun never sets on being a badass.
There was no shortage of color with reds and pinks making some bold declarations, one of my favorites being a short bright red, with draping, dramatic sleeves. Another was a long white sheath with the most beautiful pink and orange flowers embellished in shapes and sizes—evoking, though thankfully not quite copying, a mix of paisley or psychedelic style. Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” played, and one could picture Stevie Nicks in 1975 rocking out in such a dress.
While waiting to enter the Packham show, I had felt an intense desire to tap into my own ass-kicking rebel.
There’s something about being penned in with other “standing room only” guests, waiting to find out if you will be granted a precious seat, while some remarkably thin girl manages to push through you all to the front—with an impossible to ignore pissed-off presence that belies her size—that makes you want to smash a guitar or eat a live bat. (Speaking of which, it wouldn’t be NYFW without overhearing women take immense delight in discovering a gluten-free chocolate muffin.)
Packham’s show closed with Hole’s “Celebrity Skin,” more modern than the 1970s-inspired fare (it came out in 1998), but it fit perfectly with the aesthetic: the glamorous defiance of rock and roll fashion at its best. If there’s a gorgeous way to flip someone off, it would be in one of Packham’s latest designs.
I have one wish for New York Fashion Week: It’s not that the wifi be improved (though it should) or that shows actually start on time (which they should) or that “standing room only” guests shouldn’t be fenced off as if their mere presence will pollute the air for those with reserved seating (come on folks, it’s 2016, not feudal Europe). I simply hope that designers will start taking a cue from KREWE du Optic’s joyous, celebratory showing on Sunday.
Founded by New Orleans-native Stirling Barrett, KREWE designer eyewear draws inspiration and pays homage to the Southern city. However, KREWE’s appeal spans far beyond the South; the young Hollywood set has fast fallen in love with the sunglasses, with Elle Fanning, sister Dakota, and Gigi Hadid rocking the shades.
Perhaps because he boasts such enviable clientele after just three years in business, Barrett seemed to take an unadulterated joy in showcasing the SS17 Collection at Milk Studios in Manhattan’s Meatpacking district.
Amid the sea of self-serious designers, bloggers, and guests who seem to only find happiness in being spotted and recognized by a pap or someone slightly higher than they are in the sartorial echelons, KREWE offered a party that required no guest-list or name-dropping.
Notes from a New Orleans-style jazz band pulled me to the showroom like a magnet; I was nearly running to get closer to hear songs like “Riverboat Shuffle” and “Hotter Than That,” and I couldn’t help but sway along. The stylings of the Krewe Jazz Band greeted me as I entered a room that evoked the lush gardens and clean luxury one might find at an old Southern mansion on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans.
Moreover, we were invited to not just observe, but also participate in this celebration. Staff encouraged guests to go up into the area with the models and try on the array of sunglasses on display. With minimal prodding, I took more selfies than I care to admit, delighting in the remarkably beautiful and creative eyewear.
Among the KREWE collection, my personal favorites were those that seemed to evoke the Jackie O-sunglasses but were more oval than round and done in rich greens or rose shades, as if the patterns were papier-mâchéd or decoupaged to create such elaborate patterns.
There were also striking sunglasses in shapes I had yet to encounter—a mix of curves and angles that defied geometric convention. In press notes, Barrett explained, “The collection’s structure—the angles, proportions and lines—drew from the idea of being surrounded by architecture while simultaneously being enveloped in the color of a lush tropical climate.”
There were sleek wireframes as well, which seemed closer to the preferences of the Hadid-Fanning set. However, I couldn’t get enough of the dramatic, thicker frames, so nonchalantly luxurious and colorful that they almost demand their own trip to the French Quarter and a drink on Bourbon Street.