Oooh, well, I haven’t done this in a while: Uptown for a show, one with a celebratory atmosphere to boot, the gals in the audience, fans and friends of the designer, flocking together and turning it out almost as much as the models on the runway. Such was the scene at Frederick Anderson’s show at Park and 63rd on a rainy (but, oy, steamy) Thursday morning. It is an archetypal New York Fashion Week moment. Or it was, back when I moved here in 2000, before the energy and the focus shifted way downtown, and then beyond, onto Brooklyn and Queens.
The diversification of visions and voices has been a terrific and welcome change for NYC fashion, but let’s not forget those designers who are giving a youthful and thoughtful twist to what was called, back in the day, ‘uptown clothes.’ We do need to be hearing, and acknowledging, everyone who makes up the particular patchwork of New York’s fashion scene. And, in reality, we can, in the case of Anderson, dispense with the uptown. What we have from him are pieces which mirror and enhance the lives of the women who actually buy and wear his designs. His look is borne out of creative interpretation of their needs and necessities, which he then shakes up into a cocktail laced with a bit of his own humor, fantasy—and a sly wink.
In dressing women for next spring, Anderson was, he says, thinking of their physicality. The body was much to the fore. You couldn’t miss it. It was glimpsed through softly draped and tied evening sarongs and halter dresses in chocolate lace; Anderson has a thing for the filigree stuff, juxtaposing, for instance, different types in contrasting colors—red, pink, bottle green—into one long refreshing drink of an evening dress, which sinuously worked its way to the ankles.
Elsewhere he went streamlined with his silhouette, cutting his new message of comfortable, relaxed luminescence, using sequins for the likes of hip-grazing track pants. And form and fashion met with his now trademark artisanal knits, in ecru or cream or beige, which had an easy, boho charm. “They’re not perfect, and they’re not intended to be,” Anderson said. “They have a hand to them.” Or, in this case, hands: They’re created by Argentine collectives, where the local communities making them are bolstered financially by the work he gives them, a collaborative exercise in how to sustain others through one’s own work.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter where you reside on the map of New York fashion; that sense of being connected to the bigger world, and being sensitive to it, is what unites so many designing in the city these days. And from Anderson, that wasn’t the only optimistic gesture. Chatting to him, he mentioned this collection had become a very personal journey out of COVID. Working on it was an act, he says, “of coming into the light, and finding a balance. It’s been like a weight off the shoulders.” Amen to that.