The lights dimmed, the music began. There was a buzz of excitement, which was only transcended by the new buzz about American menswear. In fact, it hasn’t been this exciting since the British Invasion of the 1960s brought men’s fashion across the pond, straight from Saville Row and Carnaby Street. In early February, the Council of Fashion Designers of America launched New York Fashion Week: Men’s. Held at the Skylight Clarkson Square, the show featured fall/winter 2016 collections.
I was delighted to receive an invitation to the Joseph Abboud 2016 fall/winter runway collection showing. As I waited in anticipation for the show to start, I thought of the often-quoted line by Coco Chanel: “When women go out, they should look in the mirror and take one thing off.” I was hopeful that what I was about to see would confirm the opposite – that when men go out, they should look in the mirror and put one thing on.
And then, with the flick of a switch, the lights came on and the show began. The stage was set against a herringbone-textured backdrop; the overarching message was texture, layers, fine tailoring and a bit of irreverence.
All visual merchandisers should take note. We’re all in the business of fashion, and fashion is change and innovation. This show demonstrated both. It was about luxurious fabrics, painstaking attention to detail, patterns and the intermingling of colors, from grays and browns to rust, olive and ebony.
As the models strode across the runway, words and phrases describing the trends, as though in a stream of consciousness, surged across my mind: texture, gray and black, tweed; a feathered lapel pin; oh, that fedora; double-breasted vest, appliquéd ascots, elbow patches, tone-on-tone plaids, striped pants, overcoat slung over shoulder; hats, hats, hats everywhere, knotted scarf, flag shawl in charcoal grays, corduroy, earth tones, vests over jackets, vests over sweaters, scarfs under vests; and how about the paisleys? Layers, layers, layers; upturned collars, shawl collars -- and is that velvet?
Much like the latest men’s fashion line straight from the Joseph Abboud studio, visual merchandising is about layering to bring a presentation or environment to life, textures to provide customers with a tactile experience, splashes of color, and of course attention to detail.
I’m stepping out now. Going to a meeting; something about visual merchandising. I think I’ll look in the mirror and put something on.
Eric Feigenbaum is a recognized leader in the visual merchandising and store design industries with both domestic and international design experience. He served as corporate director of visual merchandising for Stern’s Department Store, a division of Federated Department Stores, from 1986 to 1995. After Stern’s, he assumed the position of director of visual merchandising for WalkerGroup/CNI, an architectural design firm in New York City. Feigenbaum was also an adjunct professor of Store Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and formerly served as the chair of the Visual Merchandising Department at LIM College (New York) from 2000 to 2015. In addition to being the Editorial Advisor/New York Editor of VMSD magazine, Eric is also a founding member of PAVE (A Partnership for Planning and Visual Education). Currently, he is also president and director of creative services for his own retail design company, Embrace Design.