new york fashion week

Telfar Shows Up, With Clothes

Plus: sparkles from Oscar de la Renta and weirdness (in a good way) from Collina Strada.

Photo-Illustration: The Cut; Photos: Cathy Horyn, Charlie Engman, Courtesy of Michael Kors
Photo-Illustration: The Cut; Photos: Cathy Horyn, Charlie Engman, Courtesy of Michael Kors

During the last Fashion Week, Telfar Clemens held an audience captive for two hours at Pier 17 to announce the launch of Telfar TV, a public-access channel for fashion and silliness. The press conference was more performative than real. In any case, it was not amusing. So why was I returning on Wednesday evening for more shenanigans?

The answer is simple: Because he’s Telfar. You never know what he might do. He’s the guy who created the “Bushwick Birkin,” who once turned a runway show into a mosh pit. Each model just strolled down the catwalk and, Oops!, flopped into the crowd and was borne away. And, of course, he created Telfar TV, and now he’s apparently working with a group of Black filmmakers to open a film-production studio in Baltimore. Though much of what Clemens says about moving away from the “fashion system” seems larded with rhetoric, he has mostly kept his word. So on Wednesday, I came in hope and was not disappointed.

Telfar Photo: Cathy Horyn

The setup was a large auditorium on an upper level of the pier, curtained off by black drapery, with a huge projection screen. There were rows of benches facing a stage, not that it mattered — after an hour, it was standing room only. The program began with what appeared to be broadcast clips from Telfar TV: Clemens, in his signature black goggle glasses, sitting around with his crew in the Telfar studio yukking it up with fashion-hungry guests. There was a fair amount of excruciating rhetoric about “the collective” and creativity and then suddenly the lights came up on a glossy white set. The screen was actually a scrim. Clemens had designed new clothes and accessories, after all. And the models walked from the stage to a small revolving platform in the center of the audience.

Telfar Photo: Cathy Horyn

Essentially, the new collection came out in two segments, separated by more banal TV chatter. The first consisted of crisp khakis, fleece in all forms (soupy shorts, very cool skirts and dresses, logo hoodies), and athletic-inspired items, notably taut, one-shoulder T-shirts and a long pin-striped baseball shirt over an orange hoodie and a khaki maxi skirt, with logo-embossed loafers. The accessories were bountiful and included more bag styles and what appeared to be large hoop earrings with a T in the center as well as modified Telfar cowboy boots. The second grouping consisted mainly of denim — baggy, faded, and ripped to shreds. However, there were a few plain, dark-rinsed styles.

The new stuff will no doubt be a hit on Telfar TV, but it was remarkable to me how unfunny the whole one-hour event was. That’s a long time to be sitting with nary a titter from the audience. The dialogue and antics between Clemens and his crew can end up seeming self-indulgent — and somehow I don’t think that’s his style. The fact that people are willing to put up with it is further proof that he has something they want.

Collina Strada Photo: Charlie Engman

Hillary Taymour, on the other hand, got lots of belly laughs during her film The Collinas. Taymour is the founder of Collina Strada, known for its weird mash-ups of colors and shapes, and for weirdness generally. With the actress Tommy Dorfman in the lead, the film followed a classic narrative: A knucklehead intern arrives in the big city for a dream job and, of course, does everything wrong. She eats meat, takes too many selfies, and does a lousy job with the most basic tasks (steaming clothes). The film was thoroughly enjoyable, and Dorfman’s salvation was acceptance by the gang and the perfect outfit: trousers as big as flotation devices. I felt so jolly afterward I went to Fanelli’s and had a burger.

Michael Kors Photo: Courtesy of Micheal Kors

It has been widely observed this week that the better shows were by young and largely unknown designers, and that’s true. Michael Kors can usually be counted on for a feel-good romp of glossy sportswear. But on Tuesday night, in spite of a performance by Miguel and a front row of celebrities, the collection felt flat and cookie-cutter. It began with the most predictable Kors color — camel — and warmed up to charcoal and silver with tiny shots of fuchsia and marigold. There were some striking second-skin evening looks, but Kors can afford to take more risks, or at least shake up the menu. And if you’re going to do fake furs, stick with the fluffy, fun kind. Some of the dark, serious-looking wraps and flings, in an effort perhaps to look like the real thing, didn’t look so wonderful.

Oscar de la Renta Photo: Courtesy of Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta didn’t put on a show this season, though I wish the creative directors, Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, would return to the runway. The fall collection was sparky and youthful, with plenty of clever nods to the house’s founder — notably a black cashmere sweater with embroidered ropes of shattered pearls, a shoulder-revealing caftan in a rusty-pink silk floral print, and an elegantly sleek black gown with dramatic sleeves. But the designers have attracted a young customer. Hence the sharp tweed suits with bra tops and cool ’70s-style pants in denim-colored washed velvet with a floral top. And they know how to replace real fur and feathers — by shredding yards of bright georgette into a puff ball or massing different tones of blue and silver tinsel. Garcia and Kim also created a short film — naturally, about some young office girls who bunk off work in order to prepare for a night at the Boom Boom Room.

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Telfar Shows Up, With Clothes