DKNY’s fall show opened up with a short video featuring real New Yorkers talking about why they love the city and why they moved here. At any other show, it would have felt like a cliché; but at DKNY, where New York City is in the DNA of the brand, it read like a love letter.
And Karan put her runway where her mouth is, so to speak: Real New Yorkers — from students to tattoo artists — hit the runway alongside models, NYC personalities like Hannah Bronfman and Chelsea Leyland, rapper Angel Haze, androgynous model Andrej Pejic, and self-identified “cyborg” Julianna Huxtable, whose long box braids stole the show.
These were people who don’t match standard “model” looks: there were short people, tattooed and pierced people, people of all colors and genders, and a few women who went beyond the sample size. It was easily one of the most diverse (and beautiful) runways in recent memory. By eschewing bigger names, like current campaign star Cara Delevingne and Rita Ora (the latter of whom was front row, wearing a jacket with “When I wear DKNY, I feel like a BAD B*TCH” graffitied across the back), it made the runway look like your everyday New York City sidewalk — albeit a bit more stylish.
Comparisons could be made to Rick Owens’ spring 2014 show, for which he flew in step dance troupes to perform in his collection. But where Owens’ runway felt like a reaction to last season’s conversation about race and diversity on the runway, Karan’s choice of models felt like an organic extension of a collection inspired by the New York City streets.
Even the clothes felt like elevated versions of those real New Yorkers are already wearing. Varsity jackets with pailette-embellished sleeves, lace-finished dresses and faux fur coats in black, white and gray will surely be worn as armor for the concrete jungle come fall.