New York Fashion Week Is Having a Mini Love Affair With Texas

Chanel is not the only one having a Dallas moment. Over the first four days of New York Fashion Week, designers showed collections that borrowed heavily from the historic costumes of Texas and its southern neighbors.
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Chanel is not the only one having a Dallas moment. Over the first four days of New York Fashion Week, designers showed collections that borrowed heavily from the historic costumes of Texas and its southern neighbors.

At Coach on Friday, there were suede coats and messenger bags decorated with fringe, feather-shaped leather attachments and silver studs. At BCBGMaxazria later that morning -- a collection inspired by a recent trip to Louisiana, chief creative officer Lubov Azria said -- modified ponchos in the form of patterned coats and dresses appeared, as did suede, shearling-lined jackets.

The theme continued at Cushnie et Ochs's super sexy collection at Milk Studios on Friday afternoon, where black cowboy hats were worn atop outfits of black lace, velvet and leather. And at Tibi Saturday evening, flat-brimmed black hats -- inspired by those donned by the Amish, designer Amy Smilovic said -- were shown with poncho dresses and felted wool coats.

So why are so many designers gazing south? The designers themselves seem to think it's mere coincidence. Speaking before their show, Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs said they were surprised that so many designers were looking to the Southwest for inspiration -- they had no idea, when they decided to do a collection around the idea of "taking a city girl to Texas," that it would play into a broader trend.

Coincidence though it may seem, there may be a more fundamental reason that the South appears increasingly romantic to New York designers. Oftentimes, the more remote and mysterious a culture or a territory, the greater its appeal. Look at the sharp divide between New York's and Texas's opinions on political and social issues at the moment -- from gay marriage to the Affordable Health Care Act -- and you may suddenly see why that is. But perhaps it's something lighter: the notion of an escape from the city and a rompin' good time.