Fashion Week is a special time of year – not least because it’s a month long, happens twice a year, and spans two continents. At the time of writing, the Autumn/Winter 2013 ready-to-wear collections had just begun in New York, and I imagine London will be in full swing by the time you read this, with Milan and Paris to follow. Now, you may ask why Fashion Week is so special, besides the aforementioned discrepancies in the whole concept. The fashion world loves a good brand and, frankly, Fashion Week is a brand, a great, seductive, confusing, beautiful brand. So what makes this brand so successful that we ignore the countless other fashion feeks around the world and flock to, or aspire to flock, to the big four? It’s all about the brand and the brand of the designer of your choice, who, depending on where they choose to show, will have an identity that conforms to some sort of theme that we associate with city they are showing in. New York is cool, London experimental, Paris chic and Milan luxurious. So what are the four brands that help to create and arguably adhere to this branding?
Alexander Wang: New York was made for Wang’s effortless, boy-meets-girl look. He has built a brand that reportedly makes $60 million a year and essentially created the ‘model off-duty’ aesthetic, which is so integral to his brand identity. Erin Wasson, partner in crime and his stylist muse (she styled all his shows until relatively recently), is the embodiment of the model off-duty look. If you have some time check out some videos of the pair together; there is a notable one on Style.com in which they get a bit drunk and take you on a tour of the New York party scene to celebrate the duo’s collaboration on Wang’s second show. Now with Wang taking over from Nicolas Ghesquière at the helm of Balenciaga in Paris, all eyes are on the 26 year old, and I can’t wait to see what he does with such an established brand.
Simone Rocha: One of my favourite emerging designers. London really is a great home for her brand. She is experimental and tends to push the limits of taste just like the brand of LFW itself. Describing her aesthetic as ‘modern and strong yet romantic’, Simone has a great eye for fabric and texture and her brand includes stunning Perspex heeled brogues and simple shapes made interesting by exciting materials and texture. She was a recipient of the coveted NEWGEN sponsorship for Autumn/Winter 2013, joining alumni such as Alexander McQueen, Mary Katrantzou and Erdem Moralioğlu. Keep an eye on Rocha and her brand – she is one to watch.
Miuccia Prada: While Paris has many great houses, Milan Fashion Week, in my mind, is about the brand of the fashion house. Mrs Prada’s brand is genius: covetable, crafted and creative. She makes clothes for women who love luxury but still want a product that will push people’s perceptions of style. Like Milan Fashion Week, there is nothing bashful about a Prada design; it’s bold and confident, but always simply great. Her designs are made from the best material by arguably the best womenswear designer. A Prada collection often takes inspiration from art, culture or even something abstract like ‘beauty in the face of war’. This mix of the best materials and the design direction of Miuccia Prada create a monster global brand that perfectly and comfortably complements the brand identity of Milan Fashion Week.
Ann Demeulemeester: A member of the famed ‘Antwerp Six’ along with Dries Van Noten and the seventh member, Martin Maison Margiela, she is the designer who, like Paris, has an identity and vision and sticks to it. Trends or celebrities do not bother her. Demeulemeester’s brand will not be seen on a red carpet or copied ad infinitum by the High Street. She makes clothes that she wants to wear – in fact, she only wears clothes she makes herself, admitting in an interview that she does own one pair of Levi jeans and only deigns to wear them while gardening. Her clothing is almost exclusively black and white and always distinctively conscribing to her brand. Paris Fashion Week and Demeulemeester’s brand go hand in hand, both offering the consumer piece of mind in knowing what you’re going to get.