A new era dawns for Fashion Weeks
A new era is dawning in the fashion world as 2017 begins, with the Autumn/Winter 2017-18 season promising to be one of the most exciting ever that includes a host of mixed shows and show-events, upstaged fashion week schedules and the usual spate of fashion label migrations from one capital to another, not to mention the debut of new creative directors for several houses.
The season kicked off on Friday 6th January with the Men's Fashion Week in London, to be followed by Florence (Pitti Uomo), Milan, Paris and closing the men's cycle in New York on February 2. Women's ready-to-wear events then start in earnest, beginning with the New York FW from 9th February and ending on 8th March in Paris.
The big news is the vast increase in mixed shows, combining men's and women's collections. The co-ed format took its first tentative steps a few seasons ago. But a tepid economy has forced fashion labels to seek substantial cost reductions -- such as jettisoning one of their shows -- making the mixed runway show very popular and causing a profound upheaval in the traditional 'Big Four' calendars.
Some labels have even decided to get a head start by scheduling their womenswear events with the men's shows, giving buyers advanced access to view women's collections and earlier deliveries.
The early bird list will start off with Vivienne Westwood, which will stage its first-ever mixed runway on 9th January in London. The move also means that Westwood is leaving Milan, where the brand has showed its menswear until now.
Milan will be able to offset this absence the following Monday with the Cédric Charlier show, which has left the Paris Fashion Week calendar and chosen the Italian city to premier its men's collection together with its women's line on 16th January.
Dsquared2 will also unveil its men's and women's collections for the first time together in Milan on 15th January. However, Milan will have to do without Philipp Plein, which is moving to New York to stage a co-ed show in February, a great source of stress for event organisers, buyers and the media. Paris has created another logistical challenge for the Fashion Week caravan, scheduling two major mixed shows on 22nd January, at the end of the menswear week: Paul Smith and Kenzo.
Other labels prefer to hold a mixed show during the women's fashion weeks, as tested by Burberry last September in London. So we will have to wait until next month to discover the Gucci and Bottega Veneta menswear collections, which will be presented together with womenswear in Milan in February.
Calvin Klein is also combining its men's and women's collections in a mixed gender show in New York on 10th February, under the aegis of its new Creative Director Raf Simons.
The result is a sudden downsizing of Milan Men's Fashion Week, losing the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Calvin Klein, plus the fact that several other Italian menswear labels, such as Canali, Corneliani and Pal Zileri, have decided not to show at all this season. In Paris, Martin Margiela will simply stage a presentation.
Fashion labels are also increasingly embracing the 'see now, buy now' approach, though only in small doses, given the challenge of launching a sales campaign for an entire collection right after the show. Nevertheless, using the formula for just a few items is a useful way of generating some buzz around fashion labels.
The menswear fashion week marathon will mark the debut of several major designers too, such as Guillaume Meilland at Salvatore Ferragamo, Lee Wood at Dirk Bikkembergs and Haider Ackermann at Berluti.
And this year's early marathon includes the return of a few familiar faces, such as Cerruti, but also absences, such as Carven, which has left menswear, and Saint Laurent, which will give its men's show a break again this season.
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