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Jeremy Scott visits '80s NYC at NY Fashion Week

Posted September 12

— Jeremy Scott brought his usual light-hearted theatrics to New York Fashion Week, fondly recalling an '80s New York that was a lot more grungy. And the presidential election was not far from many designers' minds. Some highlights:

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A SEEDY '80s NEW YORK, AT JEREMY SCOTT

Remember when Times Square was actually X-rated, not G-rated? Jeremy Scott sought to evoke that time in his Fashion Week runway show — but with his usual light-hearted theatrics.

There was even a dress that blared: "Rated X," not to mention garments that announced the wearer as "HOT HOT HOT."

"I was just really thinking about New York City folklore, the early '80s that I've read about in books and magazines," Scott said backstage. "These fun party scenes and these extravagant characters going around on the Lower East Side, and Times Square being seedy and having X-rated theaters."

So there was a decent amount of black, toughened up with zippers everywhere — across the cups of a bra, or dangling around the neck. And there were metal rings everywhere, and hanging garters forming a fringe around the bottom of a skirt.

But there was also a lot of bright color, and sparkly sequins, and shimmering party dresses that, in Scott's words, "look like a UFO landed on it." Yes, with bizarre geometric shapes incorporated into the outfit.

"I wanted to capture this mood, this mix of punk and S&M with kind of a disco glamour, but sci-fi at the same time," Scott said.

Times Square, invaded by aliens? It's just that kind of fondly rendered looniness — oh yes, there was a toothpaste-tube handbag — that brings eager crowds to Scott, often sprinkled with celebrities (Jussie Smollett of the Fox TV show "Empire" was in the house Monday.

Scott likes to keep people in a good mood. "I like the idea that when people are wearing my clothes, they're having fun," he said. "They're living life, and yeah, they're creating memories for people to look back 20 years or so and think, 'Wow, I want to be doing a show on the folklore of that time because it was so crazy!'"

—Jocelyn Noveck and Nicole Evatt

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TRENDS? NOT FOR CAROLINA HERRERA

Designer Carolina Herrera says her outlook on fashion hasn't changed much in 35 years and that her goal has remained the same.

"I want women to feel elegant and glamorous and chic. Why not? That's what I work for," said Herrera backstage at her Spring 2017 New York Fashion Week show at the Frick Collection art museum in Manhattan.

"I don't believe in trends that much ... You have to have your own originality, your own ideas and to wear the clothes in an effortless way. That is what I'm trying to do," said the designer.

To mark her three and a half decades in fashion, Herrera decided to look back at her inaugural collection in which she featured taffeta gowns, silver ball dresses and denim.

"When I showed in '81, I tried to take some of the ideas of the first show but to do it for now, for the woman of today. That's why I have the flat shoes and that's the easy clothes to wear, and it came out the way I wanted."

Herrera's collection Monday — in an abundance of black, white, blue, khaki and silver — included shirt-dresses, gingham, tie-waists and a tiered black tulle skirt.

The designer herself was wearing a crisp white collared shirt, a wardrobe staple for her fashion shows.

"People ask me all the time, 'Do you only wear white shirts?' I say 'No, not always. I have other things to wear," laughed Herrera. But I like a white shirt because it is like a security blanket and I can dress it up or dress it down and it's perfect to wear."

Celebrities in attendance included Kiernan Shipka, Karlie Kloss, Malin Akerman, Nicky Hilton and Jussie Smollett from "Empire."

--Alicia Rancilio

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FEMINIST INSPIRATION — AND THOUGHTS ON A FEMALE PRESIDENT — AT PRABAL GURUNG

Prabal Gurung went on the road for inspiration for his latest collection. With Gloria Steinem.

Not literally. But the designer, who puts lots of research into each new season, read Steinem's recent memoir, "Life on the Road," and was inspired by her journey — and her "strength and stark determination to fight for feminism with a bite." In an interview, Gurung also noted that Steinem, now 82, was a personal hero to his own mother.

How did that translate into Gurung's always luxurious and complex designs this season? "The notion of modern feminism is reflected in a loosening of silhouettes juxtaposed with refined tailoring, creating a fluid offering that gives her the power of choice," he wrote in his production notes.

Backstage before his Sunday evening runway show — which he downscaled to a venue that seats 400, rather than his usual 800, so people could see the detail in the clothes better — Gurung mused further about the feminist struggle, and the possibility of the first female president of the United States.

"As (the possibility) comes closer, we take it for granted," he said, but Hillary Clinton becoming president "would be a huge, big message" to the world. "So for me, I wanted to find out, how did she end up here? I went back to the feminist movement from Harriet Tubman to Susan B. Anthony to Gloria Steinem."

Would a female president be comfortable in the high-fashion items — luxurious cashmere, silk and satin; body-hugging gowns; skirts with high slits — that Gurung sent down the runway?

Gurung pointed to the last three outfits. Usually he might end with a glamorous gown, but in this case, the final outfits were all versions of pantsuits. The last, especially, seemed powerful: a black pantsuit "with gunmetal script embroidery with released chain." In an intriguing aside about the outfit written in his production notes, the designer remarked: "Our backs tell the story no books have the spine to carry."

--Jocelyn Noveck and Nicole Evatt

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QUIZ SHOW FASHION AT OPENING CEREMONY

Opening Ceremony, always game for something different at New York Fashion Week, threw a "Pageant of the People" hosted by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein with a star-studded panel that took on tough issues ranging from personal identity to prison reform.

Staged on Sunday night at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, named for the left-leaning Republican senator from New York, the pageant had the two "Portlandia" creators trying to crack the grim runway demeanors of runway models as they emceed, quizzing Whoopi Goldberg, Rashida Jones, Aidy Bryant, comic Ali Wong, Natasha Lyonne, transgender activist Sarah McBride and others who strutted the runway in looks from the brand.

This came after a parade of flags from 50 countries that provided some of the first immigrants to the U.S. And all with a clear message from Opening Ceremony designers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon: In this unpredictable election cycle, DO get out and vote!

Jones, formerly of TV's "Parks and Recreation" and more recently the comedy series "Angie Tribeca," deftly fielded a refugee question from Brownstein. Asked why we should care about the world's refugees when we have enough problems here in America, she referenced the millions of refugees from Syria and offered:

"I would venture to say a lot of us here are descendants of immigrants and refugees and slaves, and look where we are. We're so lucky. We're so privileged."

--Leanne Italie

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