The Headline From NY Fashion Week: Print(s) Is Not Dead

Sep 14, 2011
Originally published on May 23, 2012 10:24 am

Today's the last day of New York Fashion Week, that twice-yearly ritual at which retailers and editors give us a look at what we're going to be craving in spring. Big this year: prints. Whimsical prints.

To get a bead on what looks like a swing back away from minimalism, Morning Edition guest host David Greene talks to Sally Singer, editor-in-chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine.

"A woman only needs so many pairs of chic black pants," Singer says. "Or so many cream jackets. What does she need now? She needs a dress covered in birds — or that's what the [retailers] hope."

There's more on that — and on how the urge to stay fashion-forward might conflict with fears that the economy might soon be moving in reverse — in the audio above.

And in that photo gallery, courtesy of my colleague Nina Gregory out at NPR West, there's just shy of a dozen examples of work from designers Singer says are addressing a whole new generation of fashionistas — and who have "the capacity and the drive" to be the next gang of Tommys and Calvins and Ralphs.

Go on, look at 'em full-screen. You know you wanna.

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DAVID GREENE, host: Today is the last day of New York Fashion Week, that twice yearly ritual where retailers and editors decide what they think we want to buy in the spring. To give us a peek, we spoke with Sally Singer. She's the editor-in-chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and she joins us from our New York Bureau. Sally, good morning.

SALLY SINGER: Good morning.

GREENE: So what are the trends in fashion you're seeing? What is my wife going to be telling me that she wishes she could buy next spring?

SINGER: Next spring your wife is going to want to wear a print is what the New York Designers are saying. In fact, she might want to wear three prints, and there might be like a neon streak in them somewhere, certainly more whimsical than we've seen fashion in some time.

GREENE: Whimsical prints? Why does fashion seem to be going in that direction with women's clothing heading to the spring?

SINGER: I think a few things. We saw in Europe, for the fall, some wonderful prints of pansies and cats and dogs, and the like, so you have a surge out of Europe for print and color. That's one thing. On the - the other thing is that we've been in a pretty minimal period, and, you know, that plays itself out with the retailers. A woman only needs so many pairs of chic black pants or so many cream jackets.

What does she need now? She needs a dress covered in birds. And - or that's the hope.

GREENE: Well, what's the mood of the retailers who are sitting out in the audience with you?

SINGER: You know, I feel this season they seem upbeat. I mean, cautiously upbeat.


SINGER: But more upbeat than I've seen in a while. It might be that they've seen, and I hear this, that those who have money seem to be shopping and seem to be consuming in a way that might be out of step with what we've just read on the front page of the paper, that the poverty rates are the highest they've been in decades, I think.

So it just might be that the top end of retail is sustaining itself, which is exciting for the retailers who sit at the shows because they know that what they're buying from these shows will get to somebody.

GREENE: So some of the brands that are at these shows are certainly familiar to our audience, I mean big American designers: Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger. Who are the young designers who are going to be those future Calvins and Tommys?

SINGER: Well, I think this week, so far, we've really seen a new generation emerge who have the capacity, the drive, the sort of at oneness with their customer to build those sorts of brands. There's Alexander Wang, who's still exceedingly young. I don't even know if he's 25 yet. He is the go-to person for skinny, sporty, techno-ey, hipster, chic. And his show was fantastic exercise of branding.

And it wasn't a show about the future of fashion and direction and couture, it was a show about how kids want to look right now. Rag and Bone, same thing, two guys, British, fantastic line started by doing made in America jeans and shirts for men. Now they have a full line that again has everything from the sunglass to the shoes, speaks to a generation that loved rave culture, that likes a bit of historicism, nostalgia.

And I would say the third would be Olivier Theysken, who made his name doing exceeding beautiful ball gowns in Paris. He now has a line for Theory called Theysken's Theory. It's like a baggy, dropped-crotch trouser and layered, tailored jackets. And when you saw it, you thought I need all those clothes in my closet. And they cost usually under $700, which still is a lot of money. I absolutely grant you that, but isn't $7,000.

GREENE: It sounds like the headline from Fashion Week is women get ready for print season next spring.

SINGER: Or print exhaustion.

GREENE: Print exhaustion. That's Sally Singer who is editor-in-chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine. Sally, thanks so much for being here.

SINGER: Thank you.


GREENE: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.