Fashion is never, or at least, very rarely, just about the clothes. The purpose of clothing is simply to cover the body, but the purpose of fashion is completely different and far more complex. If the world only needed to be clothed we would all be wearing the same thing, similar to the scenario of the shapeless huts we would all be living in if we needed only shelter. No matter how strong my efforts are to stay uninfluenced when reviewing a collection, there's always a stray headline or photo (or flood of photos, in some cases) that get past my guard and spark a subliminal opinion in my mind, a little artificial voice dictating my train of thought, before I've even had the chance to look at the collection properly. ("Properly" for some writers means in a studio, in-person as opposed to flying down the runway; but on this blog it means from my laptop and not my phone.)
In the case of DKNY, I don't think anyone remotely involved in the fashion industry could have missed the brand's appointment of its new creative directors, the first major shift of power from Donna herself. DKNY has come to be at the helm of New York fashion, so it seems to make sense for the rulers of New York street fashion to take over. Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow's first collection for DKNY promised to be very true New York, representing the edginess, sharpness, and sportiness of the city. But it was almost too true for my taste, and for the world of Donna Karan's as well. Even though half of the label is, indeed, "New York," I think their design priorities should be in the order exactly as the label says, in which case, "Donna Karan" comes first.
The clothes were simply boring. The collection looked like a game of, "how many different ways can we combine black, white, and pinstripe?" None of the combinations looked especially resourceful or interesting, or even well thought out. Utilitarian femininity is not the type of femininity of DKNY. The photo-printed pieces came off as a bit cheap, both physically in looks and design-process-wise; there is nothing below the surface in this representation of New York City, as it's printed right there for all to see and immediately understand. The problem with design coming from a street point of view is that the designers usually view the city as they directly see it: on an accessible but basic level. There is no deeper epitomization of the city, instead the clothes are very literal and evoke no long-term thought. Part of fashion's purpose is to evoke thought, and failing to do so makes a collection clothes, not fashion, and certainly not art, as shown here by Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow's very first runway show for DKNY.
Photos via Vogue Runway.