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The Future is Now

Fashion News
A look from Tom Ford’s Spring Collection.

By: Lynn Yaeger

When I was a teenage girl, long before the chic young things reading this were born, I used to stroll along the Atlantic in early summer and dream about my fall wardrobe. I still remember that longing—for a suede cowgirl jacket, a Mondrian-inspired mod dress, even a John Lennon cap—my knowledge of the latest styles fueled by the Seventeen magazine I fought with my older sister to get first crack at.

In that prehistoric time, winter clothes were wooly and warm, summer things were crispy and cool, and the twain didn’t meet, especially not on store racks. But then a funny thing happened. People started to wear the same things all year round—boots in July! Sleeveless shifts in January! A big cashmere wrap instead of a coat when it snowed, that same soft swath employed to ward off air-conditioner chill.

Not only did we get used to popping into boutiques and buying what we needed when we needed it, but the arrival of the Internet meant that all of us, not just a few privileged buyers and editors, could watch the runway shows even as they happened. Suddenly everyone was invited to the party! (And full disclosure: even I, a super-important fashion icon, sometimes have a better seat watching the livestream from my boudoir instead of sitting in row eleven at the show.)

Now that you were at least virtually in the room where it happened, you could phone up your favorite boutique immediately after the runway presentation and tell them, I want Look Six, the bias cut guipure lace—so please, make sure you order it in my size!

But you still had to wait months for that lacey miracle to arrive. That is, until last fall. Enter the latest wrinkle in the fabric of fashion: a retailing concept known as See Now—Buy Now, wherein the catwalk clothes are available immediately, either in a pop-up right outside the show, or in the flagship down the block. For Ralph Lauren, Buy Now meant setting up a glass show space on the Madison Avenue sidewalk in front of his store, then flinging the doors open so you could immediately satisfy your lust for fringed tunics and one-shouldered white jumpsuits. Tommy Hilfiger mounted a carnival, complete with Ferris wheel; Tom Ford hosted a dinner at the Four Seasons, with his clothes, as the designer put it the day before, “hanging downstairs, steamed, and ready to be flipped into the store tomorrow night.”

Across the pond, Burberry went all out. The show, held at the site of the now-shuttered historic bookshop Foyles, featured gender-fluid British country house classics. (Copies of Virginia’s Woolf’s Orlando on each chair took the place of gift bags.) But if the hoary atmosphere and the drawing-room ensembles had a distinctly vintage air—Mary, Edith, and even poor dead Sybil, would be right at home in these frocks—that was where the old-world vibe ended. Mere moments after the show, the Burberry store on Regent Street exploded with excitement. My colleague D., who has a waif-like physique, a fierce intelligence, and an addiction to Snapchat, nearly killed himself on the slick cobblestones, running between the raindrops to avail himself of a pastel pink velvet hacking jacket and a voluminous ruffled pirate blouse.

I didn’t join him. At least not that night. Much as I love a Downton-worthy dressing gown, I guess at heart I am still that girl on the beach, comfortable with the waiting game, needing at least a minute to think about what I want, to wallow in my desires, to let the stuff that dreams are made of capture my imagination. But that can change! After all, was I not the last person in New York City with seven TV channels when the rest of the town had 700?? Do I not squeal with joy when I get a phone call on my Apple watch? So it’s probably just a matter of time until I add See Now—Buy Now to my shopping repertoire. And who knows? By then, the words of the late great Carrie Fisher may ring truer than ever: “Instant gratification takes too long.”

 

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