New York Fashion Week: From politics to Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty, here’s what to expect

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Summer might be winding down but fashion editors, models and influencers alike are gearing up for the start of another busy show season.

Kicking off with New York Fashion Week (NYFW), which officially begins tomorrow, there’s a lot to look forward to this time round with brand new CFDA Chairman – Tom Ford took over the position from Diane von Furstenberg – and a condensed schedule lasting just six days, as opposed to the usual eight. 

But, there is so much more to talk about than the hectic timetable this season. 

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From blockbuster shows and emerging designers to political protests, here is what to expect from NYFW Spring 2020. 

Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty

One of the most highly anticipated shows of the season, popstar-cum-fashion designer Rihanna is returning to NYFW for her second annual Savage x Fenty lingerie runway show.

Taking place on 10 September in Brooklyn, onlookers should expect to see a star-studded line-up of models on the catwalks; Bella and Gigi Hadid both walked last year, as did a pregnant Slick Woods, who went into labour right after the show.

The show is rumoured to include a number of “surprise” musical performances, however it is unclear if Rihanna herself will take the stage. 

Following the live show, this year’s Savage X Fenty will be available to stream on Amazon Prime on 20 September. The special will also feature an exclusive look behind the scenes at the making of the show.

Political protests

Fashion is often influenced by and created in response to the politics of the day.

And, with everything from climate change and immigration to abortion and the US presidential election dominating headlines, one should expect to see a number of designers taking a stand.

Recent editions of NYFW have been especially charged and so it seems almost inevitable that the event will produce runway protests of some kind. 

Last year, Prabal Gurung brought the #MeToo movement to the runway when models carried white roses, a symbol of the movement. 

That same week, Jeremy Scott took a bow at the finale of his SS19 show wearing a T-shirt that read: “Tell your senator no on Kavanaugh,” in protest against Donald Trump nominating Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. 

Hilfiger x Zendaya: Take two

Tommy Hilfiger is bringing his TommyNow fashion show back to NYFW this season after he last hosted the blockbuster event in Paris in March.

The show will mark Hilfiger’s second collaboration with actor Zendaya and will take place at the Apollo Theater in Harlem on 08 September.

For the runway event, Hilfiger is introducing a new online virtual reality commerce experience to give audiences worldwide access to the show. Through the VR experience, viewers can visit a virtual pop-up shop and shop styles worn by the models.

The collection will also be available to purchase ahead of the runway show in a bus parked outside the venue. The bus will then travel to a New York City location the week after the show where customers can shop the runway styles.

Last season’s Paris runway show was inspired by the models who walked the runway at the historic “Battle of Versailles” fashion show competition in 1973, including Grace Jones, Pat Cleveland and Beverly Johnson. 

Top models Halima Aden, Winnie Harlow and Jourdan Dunn also walked the disco-themed runway. 

NYFW no-shows

Although this season’s schedule is shorter, and seemingly more jam-packed than ever before, there are a number of names missing from the line-up including Calvin Klein, which staged its final runway show last year, and Derek Lam, who announced the closure of his main line in July. 

Other designers have decided to forgo runway shows and instead replace them with appointments or different events.

Diane Von Furstenberg has organised an intimate lunch, while Telfar is hosting a film screening and Rodarte has launched a lookbook of its new season designs being modelled by Hollywood stars including Kirsten DunstGabrielle UnionYalitza AparicioLili Reinhart.

Ones to watch

While the absence of old friends is disappointing, their departure has opened up a number of spaces for fresh meat. 

This season, NYFW is being infiltrated by the new guard including 85 Eldridge, the new project by artist Doug Abraham, and Christopher John Rogers, who has dressed the likes of Tracee Ellis Ross, Tessa Thompson and Michelle Obama.

Another name to look out for is Caroline Hu, a Chinese designer who won the inaugural Business of Fashion China prize this spring, which comes with a $100,000 prize.

Keep up to date with The Independent’s New York Fashion Week coverage here.