Designers parade brands as New York Fashion Week ends in limbo

By Elizabeth Barber NEW YORK (Reuters) - With the future of fashion shows in limbo, top name designers used New York Fashion Week to erase any doubts about their own brands, making definitive statements about the clothes and lifestyle that critics and shoppers alike can expect from them. Diane von Furstenberg, Tommy Hilfiger, Nicole Miller and other designers strove to make their mark during the week-long event that ends on Thursday, targeting both buyers and editors sitting runway-side and the consumers who increasingly dictate want they want and when they want it. Von Furstenberg told Reuters her Fall 2016 collection, shown at her downtown Manhattan headquarters, was key to “reminding everyone what this brand is about.” Karlie Kloss, joined by fellow models Kendall Jenner and Jourdan Dunn, described "the DvF woman" as someone who knows who she is and who she wants to be. “She’s smart and she’s hard-working and she just lives,” said Kloss, draped in a gold gown from the designer’s new collection. A similarly definitive brand statement was on deck at Tommy Hilfiger, where classic Americana looks with nautical details and suggestions of Gilded Age opulence were paraded on a steamer ship set. Model Gigi Hadid – the brand’s ambassador and an American princess to her fans on Instagram and Snapchat – made several laps around the runway in a tiny tiara. “Brands are taking a second look at what they’re going to be known for,” said Rickie De Sole, a fashion market director at W Magazine. “Everyone is playing to their strengths and pushing that more.” Pop star Rihanna’s runway show for Puma left little doubt who the designer was, with its androgynous chunky hoodies and sneaker-like heels fit for a good girl gone bad. Catwalk model Taylor Hill called it “the embodiment of Rihanna.” Likewise, there was Kanye West’s presentation and listening party at Madison Square Garden, an offering of shredded sweaters and bodysuits from Yeezy Season 3, plus all the tracks on West’s new album, “The Life of Pablo.” The future of fashion shows designed to fete buyers is being questioned in an increasingly digital world in which consumers want to order items via their mobile phones and not wait months for them in-store. “These are scary times,” said designer Nicole Miller before the debut of her Nordic-inspired collection in jockeying floral and geometric prints. “The thing to do is keep the press going and keep yourself out there." (Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Chizu Nomiyama)