New York Fashion Week began with a lunch and a dinner — despite the fact that fashion people famously don’t eat.
They do, however, love a metaphor for change. Could it have been a coincidence that Diane von Furstenberg, who recently gave up her mantle as chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and Tom Ford, who assumed it, each had their own foodie idea?
It really was more like a message: This season is not going to be like all other seasons.
“Someone asked me, ‘Why a dinner?’” Mr. Ford said Friday evening at Indochine, the palm-sprinkled Vietnamese restaurant on Lafayette Street that has been a fashion canteen since it opened in 1984.
It was Day 1 of fashion week and, as one of his first public acts as CFDA chief, Mr. Ford had decided to invite about 35 of New York’s emerging fashion names to break bread with international editors and critics. Or rather, eat chicken spring rolls, spicy beef salad and steamed Chilean sea bass, among other things. There were editors of Vogues British, Mexican and Spanish (plus Anna Wintour, of course); the designers Emily Bode, LaQuan Smith, Matthew Adams Dolan and Claudia Li (to name a few). There was a lot of schmoozing and table hopping.
“When you’ve had dinner with someone,” Mr. Ford said, “seen them, talked to them, you look at what they do in a very different way.” He’s a director. You can’t blame him for trying to shape the scene.
The previous day, at her headquarters on 14th Street, Ms. von Furstenberg had invited 30 women over to inaugurate her post-CFDA life.
“It is a relief to finally be out of that box and do things without feeling everyone has to follow,” said Ms. von Furstenberg, who had used her new freedom to skip a show and instead focus on an idea. Which also happened to be what she said was the idea behind her clothes, and which she had decided was time to turn into a “movement.”
“In charge!” she said, which was shorthand for her brand of female empowerment, as well as the name of a new networking platform she has created with LinkedIn. She was wearing a necklace she had designed with the words “In Charge” in diamond-studded script; her “In Charge” manifesto had been painted on the walls, and she had put together a tossed salad of entrepreneurs, artists, and C.E.O.s to kick it off. She said she had been wanting to do it for a while, and had just decided “it was time to get going and rally the troops.”
Gloria Steinem and Arianna Huffington were there; so was Jennifer Hyman from Rent the Runway; the artist Ashley Longshore; Anne Pasternak, director of the Brooklyn Museum; and Anu Duggal of the Female Founders Fund. They were seated along two long tables speckled with lush dahlias and carefully constructed platters of crudités, fennel salad, and grilled squash with beet purée, munching on charred asparagus and passing a mic. They were talking about what it was like not to be the only woman in a room, and sharing stories about wrap dresses (of which there were many on display, many of them leopard print).
Brooke Baldwin of CNN said her mother had bought her a wrap dress as a power dress to wear to her second job in television — and she now had that dress hanging on her office wall to remind her of where she came from, and of her mom. Whitney Tingle of Sakara Life, the plant-based food delivery service, said she was wearing a wrap dress that actually had belonged to her mother. It was covered in an ink blot pattern, and Ms. von Furstenberg (who also is starting a newsletter titled “The Weekly Wrap,” in which she will interview women she admires) said that she remembered when she created the style 45 years ago in her factory. “That is sustainable fashion,” the designer said.
And hospitality could be a new trend. There are munchies promised at Brandon Maxwell’s show on Saturday night, too. After power poses and power shoulders: power meals. It’s a matter of taste, really.