Feb 14, 2017
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Politics reign at NY fashion week

Feb 14, 2017

New York fashion week, which kicks off the fall/winter season before the style set decamp to London, Paris and Milan, is not typically lauded for its political commentary -- but if one theme has united disparate shows this February it has been opposition to Donald Trump.

Mara Hoffman, centre, with activist Linda Sarsour, centre left - Instagram: Mara Hoffman

Designers have handed out pins in support of Planned Parenthood, the women's healthcare provider that Republicans want to defund. There have also been parody Trump campaign hats and bandanas to promote diversity.

On Monday, with another three days still to go, edgy womenswear label Proenza Schouler sought inspiration in anti-Trump protests. Designer Mara Hoffman went a step further in giving the floor to protest organizers.

Here are the highlights of fashion week day five:

Stand up for your rights

Proenza Schouler, founded in 2002 by Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, bid farewell to New York before moving to Paris next season, joining an exodus of other labels who migrated this season.

Proenza Schouler - Fall-Winter2017 - Womenswear - New York - © PixelFormula

"It was a celebration of everything we love about New York," Hernandez explained, paying tribute to the energy of their hometown and weeks of protests in defense of immigration, and women's rights.

"It has been really inspiring to us: people getting together and standing up for what they believe in," he said.

Much admired by critics, they got a strong send off from the likes of Calvin Klein's new creative director Raf Simons, British model Alexa Chung and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, guests of honor.

There were asymmetric dresses, silver metallic pants, leather jackets, shearling lined coats and flat shoes -- practical attire worthy of a street protest -- at least for those with cash to flaunt.


Mara Hoffman, who took part in the women's march on Washington after Trump's inauguration, won the prize for most political show yet.

It opened with a manifesto read by the march organizers, one a Muslim American, in defense of all women, including minorities, the undocumented and those held at airports. They got a standing ovation.

Hoffman explained to AFP that she wanted to "shine a spotlight on the people that need light right now."

The designer later posted a photo on Instagram with civil rights activist Linda Sarsour, captioning the photo, "We showed our Fall 2017 collection and got to shine our light on the women that are doing the WORK and creating change in such impactful ways. This show was a true dedication to that work and the women who make this country and planet so amazing. THANK YOU to the co-founders of the @womensmarch for lending your strength and unbelievable voices to this vision today."

Dress like a woman

New York-based Chilean designer Maria Cornejo sought to highlight diversity by using models from 16 different countries, from Uganda to the Dominican Republic.

Zero + Maria Cornejo - Fall-Winter2017 - Womenswear - New York - © PixelFormula

It was a collection that featured much velvet, long dresses and big shearling coats -- "for a strong woman, who doesn't have to dress as a man to feel strong," said Cornejo, who also took part in the march.


The German-born, Swiss-based Plein hired out the grand Public Library on Fifth Avenue, lighting the exterior in projections of the US flag, lining the steps with people dressed as the Statue of Liberty and employing an Elvis Presley impersonator to croon away the chaotic door-management that left guests waiting too long in the freezing cold.

He may have been determined to throw a party equal to his ostentatious extravaganzas in Milan, but it got off to a delayed and disorganized start. Plein admitted he was nervous and promised "drinks on me."

Rappers Desiigner and Young Thug, and convicted felon Jeremy Meeks were among those who walked the catwalk alongside more established models showcasing his ultra-expensive, international luxe take on hip-hop wear and street clothes, much of it monogrammed with his name.

There were billowing cape-style metallic puffer coats, innovative sneaker-style boots nearly grazing the crotch worn with rear-skimming knickers, and mermaid-style evening gowns.

Madonna was the surprise A-list guest of honor. Reality star and youngest Kardashian clan member Kylie Jenner was also there with beau Tyga, while heiress Paris Hilton took over the Vogue snap chat.

In a nod to his locale, there were US flag tops, Neighborhood Kings and NYC printed on clothes. There was irony too: dollar-styled pattern on luxurious coats, and a dollar sign on a cute teddy bear.

Philipp Plein - Fall-Winter2017 - Womenswear - New York - © PixelFormula

Invitations came with mini Statues of Liberty, that enduring symbol of US immigration, and Plein headlined the program "Let's Make NYFW Great Again" in a parody of Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.

Uptown girl

The classy ticket of the night was Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim's debut for Oscar de la Renta and their label Monse: dreamy black tie dresses, Park Avenue pant suits and sculpted gowns.

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