With Everything About Trump, What’s a Designer to Do?

Akie Abe,Ansel Elgort,Zoë Kravitz,Shinzō Abe,Suit (clothing),Sleight of hand,Sleeveless shirt,Flannel,Tights,Nylon

The night President and Mrs. Trump had dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and his wife, Akie Abe — after a nice round of golf and a garden tour, before North Korea necessitated an impromptu news conference — Alexander Wang dragged his audience up to the crumbling abandoned RKO Hamilton Theater on 146th Street in Harlem and jammed everyone into a standing-room-only area that once housed orchestra seats and now framed a raised runway. Ansel Elgort craned his neck over Luka Sabbat’s head. Zoë Kravitz was smooshed against the barrier. Lights flashed red; the air smelled like beer; and the models came stomping out as if they were ready to rumble. In tight black leather pants and silver studs, chain-mail black-tie tank tops and strapless cat suits in Prince of Wales check, they were dressed for it, anyway. Some chopped off their hair specially for the night. They looked mad. I mention the simultaneous events not because they have any direct relationship, but because it is increasingly clear that it is almost impossible to think about New York Fashion Week and what happens on the runway without thinking, to varying extents, about Mr. Trump. He — the world he has currently created — is the prism through which everything is seen, and evaluated. There’s just no getting away from it. And if that is a given, then the question we have to ask ourselves is not should fashion react to Trump, but rather: What is the role of fashion under Trump? So far, there has been a lot of symbolic posturing. The Council of Fashion Designers of America gave out buttons in support of Planned Parenthood, and some people have been wearing them around. Christian Siriano designed a message tee that read “People Are People” after the Depeche Mode song (sample lyrics: “People are people so why should it be / You and I should get along so awfully / Help me understand”) and paired it with a long pink silk-faille skirt. Jeremy Scott sent out on...

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