New York Fashion Week Just Had Its Most Diverse Season Ever

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As we trekked through the city earlier this month for the chaos of New York Fashion Week, we couldn’t help but notice that the face of the runway seemed to finally be changing. Now, it’s been confirmed. The Fashion Spot’s diversity report for the Spring 2018 season has been released and its findings are worth celebrating.

After surveying 94 shows and 2,601 model appearances, they found that 36.9 percent of runway models were people of color, which is a great increase from the 31.5 percent during the Fall 2017 season and an astronomical change from a year ago, when only 20.9 percent of models were people of color during the Spring 2015 season. This season also marks the very first time that every single runway show had at least two models of color. While this is certainly nowhere near enough, it’s a noble step in the right direction.

Besides racial diversity, the season also had a record 31 transgender or non-binary models walk the runway, including Teddy Quinlivan, who came out as transgender at the end of Fashion Week. There were also a record 90 plus-size models, compared to the 26 who walked for Fall 2017 earlier this year.

This push towards a more diverse and inclusive runway is a breath of fresh air and, as usual, it’s smaller, queer designers like Eckhaus Latta and Luar who seem to be leading the charge. But for all of the diversity we’ve seen here, inclusivity on the runway doesn’t seem to be a big import across the pond this season when it comes to some of our favorite designers like Palomo Spain and Gucci, whose runways featured only a handful of dark-skinned, non-white models each.

While any step forward is reason to celebrate, the fashion industry’s path toward diversity still has a long way to go until it’s as diverse as the world we live in.

Our 11 Favorite Looks From Gucci’s Legendary Spring 18 Show

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Illustration by Hilton Dresden. Photos Courtesy of Gucci.

Alessandro Michele’s Spring 18 show featured some of the best looks we’ve seen on a runway period, let alone this season. The collection took Michele’s signature powerclashing of textiles, colors, and patterns to new heights—floral quilted skirts combined with angular jakets and glittering jewelry, silky bodyuits met furs and Bugs Bunny cardigans, fanny packs met rhinestones and flare pants… it seems every concept that could be thought of for the hundred plus looks of the collection was implemented. And the results are breathtaking.

The collection draws inspiration from several nostalgic fashion moments—the 80s and 90s are both clearly visible in silhouette and accessories, while the haircuts tended to trend toward even earlier decades. Yet the collection still felt decidedly ahead of its time, a refreshingly daring and conceptual show blasting apart a season filled with several safe runways.

While it would be impossible to choose the definitive favorite looks from the show (which, by the way, incorporated low lighting and immense amounts of fog), we’ve compiled 11 of the looks that struck us most in the following slides.

Gareth Pugh & Nick Knight Debut Bizarre Spring 18 Fashion Film

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Fashion films are the new runway show. A week after Kenzo and Natasha Lyonne wowed us with a bizarre clown-centric film about Maya Rudolph discovering her soul and pushing us towards an existential crisis, avant-garde maestro Gareth Pugh has unleashed a 16-minute art film to show off his new collection.

Indeed, for spring 18 Pugh teamed with venerable photographer Nick Knight for a film that debuted at London’s BFI IMAX, which is reportedly the biggest movie screen in Europe. He also employed choreographer Wayne McGregor, as well as performance artist Olivier de Sagazan. In the beginning of the piece, Sagazan and Pugh smear clay over each other’s faces and bodies until they’re completely covered, like some high fashion ritual spa day.

It’s not until two-thirds of the way into the film that the clothes are unveiled, beginning with a gag-worthy red-haired model in a metallic red trench coat. Eventually, more models enter the red-and-black mirrored room until, suddenly, holy music begins to blare and it shifts to gold and white light. We won’t spoil the finale but, between this and the Kenzo film, we’re definitely ready for absurdist, artistic fashion shorts to become the new normal.


Backstage at Palomo Spain’s Extravagant Spring 18 Show

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Photography: Anabel Navarro for Palomo Spain


Palomo Spain presented their Spring 18 collection at the Hotel Wellington in Madrid – a fitting setting, considering the queer menswear brand’s fifth collection took inspiration from the colorful cast of characters designer Alejandro Gómez Palomo has encountered during the past year of traveling the world, presenting his clothing everywhere from New York to Paris.

The collection begins with outfits reminiscent of bellboys and maids, and as the show progressed, so did its story of a day in the life of a luxury hotel – transitioning into garb inspired by Middle Eastern princesses and heirs to massive fortunes heading out for a night on the town. Beautiful silks, organzas, sequins and feathers starkly contrast with the use of everyday textiles like cotton and bathrobe-y towel material.

It also marks Palomo’s first venture into creating bags – for Spring 18, he’s designed large, chic travel bags in colorful leather hues. The brand also continues their partnership with Converse, pairing laid-back sneakers with over the top luxury ensembles harmoniously.

Take a look at some of our favorite backstage moments from the show.



alexa Blackbook: Role Models: The Changing Faces of Fashion

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RUNWAYS and magazine covers are no longer a one-size (or gender or color) fits-all world. Models are now harnessing the power of their platforms to speak up and disrupt the status quo, working to transform the fashion industry into one of real inclusivity, beyond lip service or tokenism. Meet five models-cum-activists who’ve altered the industry with their looks — and so much more.





DISCOVERED on Instagram by legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath, 25-year-old Elsesser grew up in LA, the daughter of a Chilean-Swiss father and African-American mother. Through her bikini-clad selfies and refreshingly honest Instagram captions, she’s now changing the way fashion represents women of different sizes and cultures. “It took a lot for me to be able to say that I’m a plus-size model or a model at all without feeling terror,” she told Allure magazine. “We’re told that if you’re not this one archetypal kind of beauty then you’re not worth it … But it’s not true. Emotionally, it’s so taxing. It takes so much energy not to love yourself.”





ONE of the fashion industry’s most in-demand faces, Nef was the first transgender model to be signed by a major agency (IMG). The 24-year-old Columbia graduate recently starred in Gucci’s latest fragrance ad and appears as a recurring character on Amazon’s “Transparent.” She has also become an outspoken advocate for transgender rights. “There isn’t a trans moment,” she told the New Yorker in 2016. “There were zero, and now there are 10 to 15. That’s not a moment. If anyone’s having a moment, it’s white cis men … It’s just a presence where there was an absence. We deserve so much more.” And indeed, Nef’s family has encouraged her to go for so much more. Nef, writing for Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter, shared her mother’s unflinching advice: “There are going to be a lot of people looking at you. They will say hurtful things … you need to have a thick skin. They’ll say you’re ugly, disgusting — but it’s an opportunity for you. Own it. If this is what people want from you, give it to them.”





CANADIAN model Harlow first caught the world’s eye as one of 14 finalists on “America’s Next Top Model” in 2014. Born with vitiligo, the 23-year-old has gone on to model in the pages of splashy fashion magazines, star in a recent Swarovski campaign and cameo in Beyonce’s visual album, “Lemonade.” In a 2014 Ted talk, she recounted a painful childhood: “I was singled out because of this skin condition, I was bullied, I was alienated.” Now, she says, she simply wants to be seen as a person. “I’m very sick of talking about my skin,” she told Elle Canada earlier this year. “I am literally just a human. I have the same brain as you; there’s a skeleton under my skin just like yours. It’s not that serious.”





GRABBING headlines in 2016 as the first model to wear a hijab while walking in major shows (including her debut on Kanye West’s catwalk), Aden has also landed on the covers of CR Fashion Book and Allure. Before making a splash in the fashion world, the stunning 19-year-old — who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp and raised in Minnesota — was the first Somali-American to compete for the title of Miss Minnesota USA. “It took me a while to just be comfortable in my own skin and really just wear my difference proudly — not be ashamed of the way I dress,” she told Vice. “I feel like that’s something a lot of women experience … I say I’m different, but really, aren’t we all different?”





BELGIAN supermodel and Alexander Wang muse Odiele has walked countless runways and fronted a jaw-dropping list of A-list fashion campaigns throughout her impressive 12-year career. But in January, the 29-year-old gained even more attention after revealing that she is intersex (born with sex characteristics that aren’t typically male or female), in an effort to reduce stigmas and advocate for others. “It is very important to me in my life right now to break the taboo,” she told USA Today. “I am proud to be intersex.”


Photos by Amanda Mertens (Paloma), Mary Rozzi/Contour by Getty Images (Hari), Alessandro Russo (Winnie), Getty Images (Halima), Courtesy of Women Management NY (Hanne).

alexa BlackBook: On Pointe: Star Designers Deck Out Prima Ballerinas for the Ultimate Curtain Call

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New York City Ballet’s Fall Fashion Gala, on Sept. 28, will present several world-debut dances, along with original costumes by prominent fashion designers like Off-White’s Virgil Abloh, who is creating a dozen frothy confections for the event.


WHAT’S a night at the ballet without the glorious costumes? On Sept. 28, the New York City Ballet will fête both at its annual Fall Fashion Gala, hosting the global premieres of four dance pieces, each outfitted with original creations by a buzzy NYC designer.

Prima fashionista Sarah Jessica Parker, who serves as vice chair of the NYC Ballet’s board, dreamed up the night of dancer-designer collaborations six years ago. This year’s all-star fashion team includes Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim (of Monse and Oscar de la Renta), Virgil Abloh (of Off-White), Jonathan Saunders (of Diane von Furstenberg) and Tsumori Chisato.

They’ve been paired with four rising choreographers, including Gianna Reisen, who — at just 18 years old — is the youngest choreographer ever appointed by the company. Principal dancer Lauren Lovette will return with a new piece this year, after presenting her debut work last season — a rarity for women in the ballet world.

She blames the shortage of female choreographers on the pressures of performing. “Women just have a lot of dancing to do in a day,” Lovette tells Alexa, noting that the competitive stakes are high. “That’s why a lot of women don’t really think about the creative side; they think about the technical side and the artistic side and trying to be better every day.

“It wasn’t until I got promoted to principal,” she continues, “and I achieved that goal to be a prima ballerina that my boss came to me and said, ‘Now will you choreograph?’” Fortunately, the answer was yes.

And when she heard she’d be pas de deux-ing with Monse’s Kim and Garcia on costumes for her gala piece this year? “I almost had a heart attack,” Lovette laughs, noting that she’d saved one of their runway looks on her phone for inspiration. “I couldn’t believe it.”

“Lauren’s approach is very forward-thinking, which is refreshing,” says designer Kim, with Garcia adding: “It’s been very fluid and experimental working with her.”

Parker was similarly thrilled. “We are really excited about what Monse is doing,” she tells Alexa. “The fact that they’re also at the house of [Oscar] de la Renta is not inconsequential to us.”

Meanwhile, Off-White’s Abloh is creating costumes (including ethereal, pastel tulle skirts) for wunderkind choreographer Reisen — all thanks to a fortuitous note.

“I got a random email from [Parker] that was superawesome and heartfelt,” he tells Alexa. “I was blown away — little does she know she’s this muse for me. Then a couple weeks later she emailed back and suggested I design costumes for a ballet that was being created. So I have been working on this for the last three months.”

Parker describes Marc Happel, head of the NYCB’s costume shop, as “the linchpin making it all work,” serving as a translator between the choreographers and the designers. “In my mind, I have a very clear idea of what is needed in a costume to make a dancer comfortable,” he explains. “Certainly we have tricks — I’m always looking for what kind of treatment there is around the waist.”

Garcia brought existing pieces from the Monse line — including a fitted black jacket with a cinched peplum flare and lace-up sleeves — to Lincoln Center for a test run with Lovette.

“I got lucky because I felt like Monse had already met me halfway,” reflects Lovette. “Their clothes are so movement-based. All of their advertising is in motion. Their models are jumping — the clothes have life. What better way than dance to put life within the clothes?”


Photo by Taylor Jewell

Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen Star in Kenzo Fashion Film

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If you’re looking for clown content that’s a little less It and American Horror Story: Cult and a little more existentially distressing, you may want to take 13 minutes to watch Kenzo’s new fashion film. Cabiria, Charity, Chastity is the directorial debut of Orange is the New Black actress Natasha Lyonne, and to say that it’s bizarre would be a massive, egregious understatement.

Kenzo is already known for creating top quality, surrealist films for its collections – their last, directed by Spike Jonze, won a Grand Prix at Cannes this year – and this clown-centric piece doesn’t disappoint. Lyonne wrangled up a star-studded cast that includes Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen, Macaulay Culkin, Leslie Odom Jr., and Greta Lee. Oh, and she got almost all of them simply by texting them – because Lyonne is just that good.

In the film, Rudolph plays Chastity, who winds up on a time-traveling journey of self-discovery that includes clown school (as taught by Armisen), a cabaret, a terrifying Macaulay Culkin, and a gibberish language that the director made up for the film. We’d try to explain the story, but after two run-throughs, we still have literally no idea what any of it means.

While we anxiously await Kenzo’s SS18 show on September 27, to see how the film ties in, take a break and watch it in all its weird glory.


alexa BlackBook: Double Feature: Rodarte’s Designing Sisters Make Their Writing & Directing Debut with ‘Woodshock’

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Kate (left) and Laura Mulleavy share directing duties on the set of their first feature film, “Woodshock.”


SISTERS Kate and Laura Mulleavy ask to meet at the Pacific Dining Car in Downtown Los Angeles, where green-dinner-jacketed waiters serve afternoon tea while Chet Baker plays softly in the background. It served as the ad hoc pre-production office for the movie they’d been incubating for years. After founding their acclaimed fashion line, Rodarte, in 2005, the pair are now taking a page from the Tom Ford playbook and channeling their dreamy aesthetic into feature films. Their cinematic debut, “Woodshock” — which they wrote and directed — stars Kirsten Dunst and hits theaters Sept. 22.

“Both film and fashion are about a natural instinct and being open to following that,” Kate, 38, tells us. “They’re very different processes but both of them involve an extreme desire to bring something to life.”
“Woodshock” centers on Theresa (played by Dunst), whose grief snowballs into chaos and paranoia as she experiments with a lethal drug. Through the movie, the audience is largely left in the dark about why Theresa falls down this particular rabbit hole. “[We created] a character where you have a stream-of-consciousness experience,” explains Kate. “It’s not a film based on explanation of her behavior.”

Kate and Laura found plenty of creative common ground between fashion and filmmaking, along with some refreshing distinctions. “Our main job at Rodarte was to protect it, and to protect the creative identity and the integrity behind what we do, which is something that you really have to do when you create a film,” says Laura, 37. “Fashion design is about a series of repetitive motions and this cycle of developing ideas, questioning your choices. But the film was taking that thing that you do in six months and dividing it over five years with 300 people.”



Kirsten Dunst stars in the movie, playing a grieving woman whose drug experiments are presented in a chimeric, stream-of-consciousness style.



The sisters previously worked with director Todd Cole to create a series of short films for Rodarte. They also worked on costumes for Darren Aronofsky’s celebrated 2010 movie, “Black Swan,” an experience that inspired them to make their own movie.

“There’s such a small percentage of women directing films, you realize why a lot of people may feel that that job is not achievable to them,” says Laura. And so, like our cover star Lake Bell, the Mulleavys decided to create their own opportunity. “What’s amazing is knowing that when we came to the table with this unique project, there are other people out there who will do that too,” she continues. “People are questioning the status quo.”

As with Rodarte, the sisters shared filmmaking duties: writing together, scouting together, editing together. Kate and Laura also collaborated on the wardrobe with costume designer Christie Wittenborn. The film’s elegant use of reflections, scale (much of the movie is set among unfathomably huge redwood trees) and disorientation creates an unearthly, glittering, nebulous effect that echoes their fashion collections.

“[Making films] is something I just know I love,” says Kate. “I can finally get all these creative things in me and figure out a way of pulling them all together and getting them out into the world. As a woman that’s a really empowering feeling.”


Photos Courtesy of Autumn DeWilde, A24

Gucci’s Cruise 18 Campaign Shot Real Rome Residents in Their Homes

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Photography: Mick Rock for Gucci Cruise 18.


For Gucci’s Cruise 18 campaign, they tapped legendary photographer Mick Rock – nicknamed “The Man Who Shot the Seventies” because of his iconic photographs of Blondie, Bowie and Queen – to capture their new collection on camera.

Rock elected to skip fashion models in favor of real citizens of the city of Rome, photographing individuals who caught his eye in their own homes or on the street to fantastic effect.

“What helped a lot is the fact that I got constant stimulation from the clothes because they’re so fabulous, and they’re colourful,” he told Dazed. “I just went for the people that interested me.”

Gucci’s next release of new styles will arrive in just 6 days, when the combined men’s and women’s Spring 18 line is unveiled at Milan Fashion Week September 20.