Narciso Rodriguez | Fall 2019

by Long Nguyen

Narciso Rodriguez is indeed a rare breed in the world of international fashion designers.  Rodriguez isn’t very interested in many of the accolades that most fashion designers and their respective brands strive for — namely, seeking collaborations with artists and streetwear brands to elevate their presence. Most other brands prioritize becoming relevant to new consumers and importing influencers of all kinds, from celebrities to the usual suspects with huge followings. In the past few seasons, Rodriguez has turned away from his usual mega-show in a music studio right off Hudson Yards in favor of smaller format, with fewer audience members there to view his latest creations.  True to his vision, the designer showed his twenty-look, Fall 2019 collection to an audience of about forty people, on a sunny Monday morning. By any fashion standard that’s small audience, and perhaps the anti-thesis of fashion shows nowadays.

Rodriguez didn’t disappoint his audience this time, with his combined sharp and tailored silhouettes mixed with loose proportions and airy shapes: a sleeveless charcoal cotton dress with a dyed pattern at the front and an elbow sleeve, wool, barathea ample coat with long neck bow tie and black leather tunic, both worn with white or black, twill, cigarette pants with split ends on the bottom outer leg to allow the pants to drape beautifully over the leather boots. A short-sleeve, loose and flare, A-line cotton dress with asymmetrical charcoal dye on top and bottom trims, floated freely on the body of the model as she passed by – the movement effect enhanced by what seemed to be a slightly shorter hem in the front of the dress surely cancelled out the possible perceived weightiness of a long dress, even when made in thin cotton.  The graphic uneven dyed patterns and break the monotony of the monochrome fabrics.

Among the standouts were a slim, black, broad-shouldered, one-button, wool pant suit, a black, shiny, short-sleeve, leather dress with slight pleating at the waist, and a slim-cut, black, deep v-neck dye bias cut, silk, knee-length dress. A hint of decoration adorned a metal chain-embroidered, wool tunic paired with black satin pants, as well as an asymmetrical hem, black, wool sheath dress.  Combining loose dresses and tunics with slim pants, at times, topped with black wool coats or single-breasted jackets was the primary silhouette that anchored the show.

A casual observer may think this show is a runway transformed into a merchandising platform with models entering and leaving in the latest wares. It isn’t. It’s a master class from concept to execution of the design. It’s simply a demonstration of the technical skills rendered with the utmost degree of confidence by a designer who has honed his craft over the past two decades. Cutting, draping and design are the foundation of fashion but these skills are often lacking in many of the current crop of creative directors — the current nomenclature for fashion designers working for big houses. Rodriguez’s work is a triumph of substance over noise. It’s also the pace of his work, allowing time for ideas to foster, to transform and to evolve. At this rate, Rodriguez fashion business model should be like that of Alaïa, the French designer who worked at his own pace, far from the maddening crowd of fashion.

Photos courtesy of Narciso Rodriguez