A rude awakening at the end of this long, slow summer: New York Fashion Week begins on Thursday! As you read this, street-style bloggers around the world are cramming their 30th pair of shoes into a suitcase and quibbling over the merits of green pom-poms versus orange ones. Prepare yourselves for the onslaught of runway photos, #fashionfail tweets, and blister complaints.
But past all the Internet noise, what will those in the front row really be discussing, in hushed tones, between cheek kisses and bored stares? We’ve rounded up the top talking points of the season for your convenience, to be mentioned offhandedly while ignoring photographers and fanning one’s face with show notes.
1. Will Bethann Hardison’s campaign for black models have an effect on runway castings?
It should. With numerous outlets making a stink over the dearth of runway diversity, it’s about time that designers, agencies, and casting agents pool their resources and push the percentage of non-white models past the teens, where they’ve plateaued for about five years. The last time Hardison mounted an aggressive campaign for runway diversity was in 2008, and her efforts helped bring about Italian Vogue’s first-ever “Black Issue,” which was far from a solution but at least a step in the right direction. Although Hardison's tactics have remained under wraps this time around, her influence will undoubtedly be felt.
2. Will Lauren Santo Domingo wear only white T-shirts?
Of course she won’t. (She only did once, to much fanfare, last season.) But as one of the industry’s most consistently dressed-up women, her choice to do so poses a larger question about the reaction against street style: Will fashion’s A-list — the LSDs and the Taylor Tomasi Hills and the Joanna Hillmans of the world — start dressing down to differentiate themselves from the “bloggers” who peacock outside the shows? Will “not trying” become the new hallmark of truly belonging? After complaints against all the posing and strutting reached new heights last season, perhaps looking like you don’t want your picture taken will become much cooler than wearing the latest, most sensational runway look from head to toe.
3. Whom is Anna Wintour grooming for future Condé leadership?
Anna may have finally given up her crusade for Fashion’s Night Out (R.I.P., can’t win ’em all), but that’s small potatoes compared to what’s on her plate now that she’s been promoted to Condé Nast’s artistic director. Since taking the position last March, she’s made her mark with bold strokes, most notably hiring Eva Chen to revive Lucky. What’s next on her agenda? Will she be wooing potential Traveler staffers? Her seatmates and schedule will be subjected to more scrutiny than ever.
4. Will Alexander Wang hold onto of the spotlight?
Alexander Wang’s ascension to Balenciaga was one of last season’s biggest stories, if not THE biggest. Now that he’s proven himself worthy of helming a major Parisian fashion house, how will his original brand fare? Plenty of designers maintain multiple labels — Marc Jacobs being New York’s best example — but it’ll be fun to see how Wang handles his newly established status this season. Meanwhile, his staff has undergone some changes: Danielle Sherman, the head of Wang’s T line, decamped in April for Edun, the ecofriendly line run by U2’s Bono and wife Ali Hewson (another brand worth watching this week). It’s a new era for Wang, and it’ll be fun to watch where he takes it.
5. Will the impending model bill change anything?
New legislation aims to protect models under 18 under the same child-labor laws applied to dancers, actors, and performers of the same age. It was passed by the New York State legislature on June 12, but still has not been signed into law by Governor Cuomo (once signed, it will go into effect 30 days later). Over the summer, many speculated that the law would force the modeling industry to undergo drastic changes — models under 18 would require special permits, reduced hours, enforced study time, and even tutors if they missed a certain number of school days. We envisioned study halls in the tents, but alas, it seems we’ll have to wait a few more months to see the effects. Will agencies make any preemptive changes? Or will they simply focus on models who will be of age by next season?
6. Can Nicola Formichetti make Diesel cool again?
Over the past several years, Diesel’s runway shows have been a toss-up at best. With a revolving door of designers and a front row full of ubiquitous CW stars, the brand’s Fashion Week presence has dwindled. But now that Nicola Formichetti, of Gaga and Mugler fame, has taken over as Diesel's artistic director, there might be some changes. Like an appearance by Gaga herself, perhaps! On the runway, in the front row, dangling from the ceiling, emerging from a clam shell … you never know, do you?*
7. Is nail art over, or can the beauty industry keep it alive?
As trends go, nail art has already overstayed its welcome for ages. (It’s been a whole YEAR since people declared it a “thing.”) But it might hold on for a little bit longer, and here’s why: (1) Nail trends tend to have slower cycles, because they’re cheaper and more wide-reaching; a girl in some tiny Midwestern town is more likely to experiment with polish than she is with shoes, for example. (2) Nail art is just so good for the beauty industry. Possibilities (and products) abound! So, here’s hoping nail art hangs in there.
8. Can Google Glass actually be fashionable?
The powers that be at Google have the fashion industry in their pockets, and we’ve had Google Glass stuffed down our throats by Diane Von Furstenberg, Vogue, and the Times "Style" section. Several editors, including Eva Chen and Nina Garcia, have tweeted about their Google Glass fittings, so we can expect to see them on stylish (and much-photographed) faces at the shows. But can these doodads really become “cool”?
9. What will Kanye’s “return to fashion” look like?
After several seasons of showing up at every runway he was invited to (plus some he wasn’t), Kanye took a break from the scene last spring, nixing his own show in favor of vacationing in Rio with pregnant Kim Kardashian. But he’s shown signs of renewed interest this summer, collaborating with A.P.C. and hinting at progress on his “next collection” in Milan. He’s poised for some kind of comeback, but he’ll surely do things differently this time around. (And perhaps involve Kim and baby North, while he’s at it.)
10. Who will be the next Cara Delevingne?
It might be Cara herself, although last spring was a bit much, even for Cara herself, who was so overbooked she got psoriasis and complained of walking fatigue. It might be best for everyone if she took it easy this time. In the lead as her replacement is Edie Campbell, who was big last season and, after two big spreads in Vogue’s September issue and campaign spots with Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen, seems poised to dominate.
11. Can Adam Selman break out from under Rihanna’s shadow?
Best known for designing Rihanna’s tour costumes and helping with her River Island Collection, Adam Selman will show his first-ever ready-to-wear collection in New York this week. He won’t be the first designer to use his pop-star connections as a springboard for an independent career (see also: Nicola Formichetti), but how much he’ll have to rely on the Rihanna factor remains to be seen. Hopefully she’ll be there, at the very least, and get props for boosting the profile of a previously unknown name.
* Or maybe not: Diesel has confirmed that Formichetti won't be involved in the label's runway collection, which is overseen by designer Andreas Melbostad. So, no Gaga this time, perhaps.