The fashion tent has grown bigger and more welcoming, if the slate of after-parties during New York Fashion Week was a reliable indicator.
Venerated luxury brands like Cartier and Prada sought a younger and more diverse crowd, while indie downtown labels cemented their reputations for steamrolling racial and gender boundaries.
“This fashion week, more than any other, is more for the people,” said Ruth Gruca, the creative director at Cala, a start-up trying to disrupt the fashion industry with 3-D body scanning. “The calendar is weak, but the underground culture is thriving.”
Still, with questions about authenticity, appropriation and representation perfuming the air, the free drinks occasionally arrived with muddled messages.
Last Thursday, Cartier celebrated new bracelet designs with a gilded party at its Fifth Avenue mansion, where guests chewed on sliders and fries while ogling glass-encased jewelry. Stars including Armie Hammer and Sofia Coppola mingled with less familiar faces like Tyshawn Jones, a Supreme skateboarder, and Lizzo, a rapper.
“This year I have a seat at the table,” said Lizzo, who wore a hot pink dress by her stylist Marko Monroe, after reeling off fashion week events she planned to attend.
Later that night, Jeremy Scott held an after-party at the new Playboy Club New York in Hell’s Kitchen. Women with poofy rabbit tails and exposed haunches ferried drinks beneath photos of Hugh Hefner as fashion kids jiggled to Drake hits.
Few attendees took issue with the retrograde atmosphere, even in this #MeToo moment. “Playboy is an iconic institution,” said Mr. Scott, who wore what he called a “bootleg” Playboy T-shirt. “There’s a big difference between women objectifying themselves and being taken advantage of.”
The buzzy schedule continued over the weekend. The annual Harper’s Bazaar Icons party, a black-tie affair at the Plaza hotel, crested to newsworthy when Cardi B heaved her shoe at Nicki Minaj. Prada celebrated the return of its sporty Linea Rossa line at its SoHo flagship store with a mostly under-30 crowd that included ASAP Rocky, Ansel Elgort and a performance by Kali Uchis.
And on Sunday night, two beloved homegrown labels took the inclusivity mantra further. In lieu of a traditional show, Opening Ceremony handed over the runway to the drag personality Sasha Velour, who staged a gender-bending show at Le Poisson Rouge with avant-garde performers like Jiggly Caliente and Hungry. A surprise performance by Christina Aguilera was a meta drag moment in the making.
“She’s so cool,” said Humberto Leon, a founder of Opening Ceremony. “We have drag performers who impersonate her.”
Over at the Public hotel, the after-party for Telfar — the rising unisex brand that won the 2017 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award — was a sea of vogueing, bandannas and shirtlessness. Bedlam erupted when ASAP Rocky’s convoy cleaved the knotted doorway.
On the dance floor, Telfar Clemens, the Liberian-American designer, pondered fashion’s new eye for diversity. “I think it’s interesting that they’re interested,” he said. “Is it trendy? Is it another customer you never thought about? It’s something that America has shunned.”