Blame it on Burberry, but Christopher Bailey’s decision to rip up the fashion week rule book and switch to runway-to-retail was the day that changed the game forever. It was February 5 – a moment that will forever remain crystalised in my memory – and days later, Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger followed with similar declarations.
Ironic then, for a movement based entirely on instant gratification, that we had to wait until September to witness see-now-buy-now in full effect. Or more precisely, for a personal message in our inboxes from Tommy Hilfiger on the day of his New York Fashion Week show introducing #TOMMYNOW, a catwalk-come-fashion carnival with the requisite star spangled FROW and starring current muse and global ambassador Gigi Hadid.
Credit: Instagram @tommyhilfiger
So far, so fashion. But in an unprecedented break with convention, of the two thousand invited guests, half were consumers, plus those not on the guest list were able to purchase the pieces as soon as the last model left the runway thanks to a shoppable live stream, and via social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest.
The future of fashion was changed irrevocably. And following Tommy’s recent announcement that he’s showing his next collection in Los Angeles, so was the future of New York Fashion Week.
Credit: Instagram @tommyhilfiger
For those questioning whether the see-now-buy-now shake-up was enough to reverse the fortunes of the fashion industry, that may have been answered in part with the revelation that Christopher Bailey took a 75 percent pay cut for the financial year ending in April 2016, followed by being stripped of his CEO status in June and being replaced by Marco Gobbetti – while retaining the title of Chief Creative Officer and the newly created role of President of Burberry.
However, Bailey had it easier than most. This year saw the departure of some of the best-loved creative directors on the catwalk. Hedi Slimane parted ways with the fashion house he rebranded Saint Laurent in April, which prompted the brand – in the signature move of an insecure ex – to delete its entire Instagram feed featuring Slimane’s tenure. We’ve all done it.
Further creative breakups followed, including Peter Dundas and Roberto Cavalli, and Carven and wunderkinder Alexis Martial and Adrien Caillaudaud in quick succession in October, and fashion’s It-boys-on-the-block Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow stepping down as Co-Creative Directors of DKNY in December.
It was also the end of an era at Marni when founder Consuelo Castiglioni handed the creative direction of the brand to Francesco Risso. Her intellect and identity will be sorely missed by many at Milan Fashion Week, leaving big, block heeled, slightly off-kilter shoes to fill.
The year of 2016 was also the one that saw Diane von Furstenberg hang up her proverbial wrap dress, appointing Jonathan Saunders as Chief Creative Officer in May. “I cannot wait to watch him shine,” she revealed. She’s not alone. The world is still waiting for Saunders’ debut, since DVF has kept its Spring/Summer 2017 collection largely under wraps, with a low-key, camera phone-free show as a response to the catwalk-to-checkout concept.
Credit: Getty Images
The most astonishing invitation of the many I received this year was to MSGM’s Autumn/Winter 2016 show, appropriately called Interlude, accompanied by a polite note from Massimo Giorgetti which read, “We ask you not to post any pictures of the show on social media” – a controversial reaction to the see-now-buy-now fashion frenzy.
Elsewhere on the FROWs in Milan, the mood in the upper echelons seemed resistant – defiant even – and while London and New York looked to the future, the Italians continued to revere the past. In July, Tod’s celebrated the completion of the first phase of the restoration works of the Colosseum with a classical concert and sunset dinner.
The following week FENDI marked its 90th anniversary by hosting its Legends & Fairy Tales Haute Fourrure show at the iconic Trevi Fountain which the fashion house lovingly restored, proving what we had suspected all along: that Karl Lagerfeld really can walk on water.
Ever the creative curveball, Alessandro Michele chose Chatsworth House as the backdrop for Gucci’s Cruise 2017 campaign, reviving Vanessa Redgrave’s style icon status in the process. In the uncertainty of the digital age, could having a healthy respect for history, and being a patron of the arts be remembered as fashion’s most radical act of all?
Credit: Courtesy Gucci