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You didn’t need the Fifth Dimension singing “Let the Sunshine In” to get where Tom Ford was coming from this season. This much was clear from the very first look: Ford is ready for the good times to start rolling again. Though there were laidback, athleisure-y shapes, these were not clothes for staying home, or going unnoticed. Quite the opposite: racer back tanks and basketball shorts or track pants were stitched all over in neon sequins: fuchsia and orange or acid green and pool blue. To finish the look: an oversize satin blazer in another bright color and accessories in the form of a crystal studded choker and barrettes, and a towering pair of satin heels.

In his thoughtful show notes, Ford observed that LA has changed him, and that Instagram has changed everybody. “Photogenic clothes today by their very nature mean that they are not at all timid… My clothes this season are simple in cut but not in impact.” Then he went on to quote the imminently quotable Diana Vreeland: “I know it’s a lot but is it enough?”

The show took place at the David Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Its promenade is often the site of gala dinners, but there was nothing on the runway that could be considered black tie. For the time being, Ford’s convinced that going out is going to be different. No to gowns and tuxedos, but a resounding yes to sparkle, the more the better. In addition to the sequins and satin, there were jean jackets encrusted with gilt chains, leopard spot lamé tailoring, and masses of gold necklaces worn over shirts unbuttoned down to there and knotted at the navel, and lots and lots of metallic ribbed knits.

Call it razzle dazzle casual. It capped off a New York Fashion Week in which sportswear came back to the fore. The Costume Institute will take up the subject of American fashion when its new exhibition opens with the Met Gala tomorrow (that’s where we’ll see Tom Ford formal), but designers’ renewed focus on hardy American essentials has less to do with curatorial synchronicity than it does with current world events. Remember: sportswear came into its own in an earlier time of crisis (World War II) and rebirth (the Baby Boom). The building blocks aren’t dissimilar decades later, though the kind of crisis we’re living through has changed. “Mostly,” Ford wrote, “I think that this is a hopeful collection and at a moment when we all need hope. We need that now more than ever.” Envisioning the light at the end of the tunnel, he just amped up the glam factor.


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