Get Ready for the New Gucci, and Other Surprises of the Fashion Season

It’s fashion month! The news may be full of Trump indictments, extreme weather and war, but the shows stop for almost no crisis (pandemics excepted). For anyone in need of a moment of escape or some inspiration to gird yourself for the day, they may, in fact, represent an increasingly important pressure valve. There’s a reason, after the Covid lockdowns, the shows have returned in full, or even greater, force — not just as industry events, but as full-fledged entertainment happenings that are extending their tentacles far beyond the runway. So prepare yourself for approximately four weeks of impossibly glamorous photos, street style and gossip. Here’s what you need to know:

All Eyes on Milan

The designer debuts to know: Sabato De Sarno at Gucci …Credit…Riccardo Raspa
… and Peter Hawkings at Tom Ford.Credit…Ferry van der Nat

After seasons of relative calm and predictability (some might say stultifying sameness), Milan has become the city to watch, with the two debuts of the season. First up: Sabato De Sarno at Gucci. The former Valentino No. 2 is a relative unknown, and he’s taking on a huge job, following in the footsteps of Alessandro Michele, whose version of Gucci may have looked familiar at the end but which changed not only the fortunes of the brand, but the direction of fashion itself. The stakes are very high for the $10 billion house, which reportedly wants to move in a more classic (read: Hermès) direction. We’ll know if this is the case — and if it works — on Sept. 22.

Then there’s Peter Hawkings, another longtime deputy, who became the creative director of Tom Ford in April after the brand was sold to Estée Lauder and Mr. Ford stepped down. Mr. Hawkings worked beside Mr. Ford for decades, and judging by his official portrait, is very much in the mold of his mentor (down to the tinted aviators). Given that Mr. Ford could be said to have coasted on his greatest hits in the last few years, there’s hope that Mr. Hawkings will take the brand in something of a new direction.

Finally, while Moschino searches for a new designer (Jeremy Scott, who made it meme central during his 10-year tenure, left in March), the brand is handing over its 40th-anniversary show to four stylists — Katie Grand, Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, Gabriella Karefa-Johnson and Lucia Liu — for a one-season-only inspired-by-the-archives extravaganza. The result is pretty much guaranteed to remind of us what we lost when we lost the very talented Mr. Moschino at only 44 in 1994 and why brand founders really matter.

Speaking of the Next Big Thing

Adwoa Aboah in “Victoria’s Secret World Tour” wearing a look from the London designer Supriya Lele.Credit…Carlijn Jacobs/Victoria’s Secret

Peter Do is the name to know in New York. The much-feted young designer is unveiling his first collection for Helmut Lang on Day 1 of the official New York Fashion Week schedule, no less. The beloved brand, currently owned by Fast Retailing (a.k.a. the company that started Uniqlo), had been languishing ever since the departure of its founder back in 2005. The name remains redolent with potential and good will, but not so much profit. Mr. Do’s job is to make it the epicenter of cool again. No pressure there.

Also under pressure: Victoria’s Secret, which will offer a de facto curtain raiser for New York Fashion Week with the premiere of the “Victoria’s Secret World Tour” film/happening. It’s a complicated reset of ye olde VS show involving four cities around the world, 20 designers, artists and filmmakers and a model cast that is as inclusive as possible. It’s the company’s first foray back to the runway since 2018. Will it be enough to convince the public that Victoria’s Secret really has changed? Will there be wings? These are some of the questions.

Not the Only Thing to Watch

The pioneering Black model Donyale Luna is the subject of a new documentary, “Donyale Luna: Supermodel.” Credit…Luigi Cazzaniga/HBO

“Watch” being the operative word: Just in time for fashion month come three different documentaries on famous models, all of whom changed the dynamics of the industry and opened the door to the age of the influencer and the influencer-activist.

Two of the flicks are on streamers. First, “Donyale Luna: Supermodel,” coming to Max on Sept. 13, tells the story of the first Black model to appear on a Vogue magazine cover. Then, on Sept. 20, “The Super Models,” the much-anticipated documentary series that looks back at the careers of Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford, has its debut on Apple TV+. Given the furor the models’ recent cover of Vogue created, chances are this will be fodder for water cooler conversations everywhere.

Then there’s “Invisible Beauty,” a feature documentary that has been on the festival circuit and will be released in select theaters on Sept. 15. This is the story of Bethann Hardison, a pioneering Black model (she walked in the so-called “Battle of Versailles”) and activist who started her own agency to expand fashion’s narrow definition of beauty, then went on the create the Black Girls Coalition and become one of fashion’s most celebrated change makers. The doc features the rare fashion figure willing to speak truth to power, even onscreen.

Speaking of Movies, Fashion and Celebrities …

Jennifer Lawrence making a guest star appearance in the front row of a Dior couture show in Paris.Credit…Kristy Sparow/Getty Images for Dior

Hollywood’s loss may be fashion’s gain. The actors’ strike has meant a dearth of red carpet appearances and film premieres, and as celebrities twiddle their thumbs, the band ambassador gig has suddenly taken on a whole new dimension. There are no rules against commercial work during the strike, and SAG-AFTRA has actually encouraged it. Theoretically, stars are free to show up in front rows at will, and their appearances will not only keep their names and likenesses in the headlines, but help support the ecosystem of stylists, hairdressers and makeup artists generally employed for public appearance and hit hard by the strike.

That means we could be in for a few weeks of glittering frows not seen … well, ever. Louis Vuitton counts among its contractual “friends of the house” Zendaya, whose film “Challengers” was pulled from the Venice Film Festival because of the strike, and Emma Stone, who skipped the festival even though her movie “Poor Things” was shown, as did one of the film’s other stars, Margaret Qualley, a Chanel ambassador.

Dior has Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman and Anya Taylor-Joy. Gucci has Dakota Johnson. And that’s before we get to the K-pop supersonics and athletes who have become brand favorites.

In other words, this could really be an all-star season, in more ways than one.

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