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    The Suit Is Not So Dead After All


    It was the penultimate night of New York Fashion Week, and Mayor Eric Adams was finally sitting front and center at a major fashion show, his first big one since assuming office. (Earlier in the week he stopped in to see the In the BLK presentation of three emerging Black designers created by the #ChangeFashion initiative.) The designer of choice?

    Michael Kors, one of the few tentpole names still showing on the official schedule, officially a giant business and personally a booster not just of the fashion industry, but of the city’s theater community as well — not to mention its charity circuit.

    Mr. Kors was having the first evening show of his career because, he said backstage before it began, he wanted to celebrate “New York at night” and the spirit that drives people to go out again.

    If municipal politics was going to meet fashion, this was an on-message place to do it.

    “I’m the biggest flag waver for New York!” Mr. Kors said when the mayor came to say hello before the show and pose for some thumbs-up pictures.

    “Keep waving that flag,” replied Mr. Adams, resplendent in a paisley print jacket, coordinating blue trousers (not by Kors), fancy socks, and a face mask. Then he made his way to his seat, sandwiched between the Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Ariana DeBose, the Oscar-nominated star of “West Side Story,” and Mr. Kors did just that.

    Not in red, white and blue, though, but in camel, greige and black, with the occasional shot of traffic cone orange, crossing guard yellow and a bit of hot pink; the colors of his city streets. To remixed Prince tunes sung live by Miguel, he remixed his classics — clutch coats, leotardlike dresses with curvy cutouts at the side and sharp double-breasted suiting — in double-face and crystal. Everything had a bit of stretch or give for comfort. There were a lot of legs, sometimes in thigh-high boots.

    “When I think of New York,” Mr. Kors had said earlier, “I think of a stride.”

    It’s not exactly a giant philosophic leap, to be sure, but it is one way to think about creating forward momentum. Earlier there were some others.

    Gabriela Hearst, for example, name-checked the work of Emanuele Lugli, the Stanford University art history professor who focuses on gender and politics, and then waxed rhapsodic about the end of gender binary, the breaking down of barriers and the potential of something new.

    That’s a conversation that has been going on for a while in both life and fashion, but in her hands it means erasing the old boundaries between sophistication (leather trench coats, swishy suiting) and what used to be dismissed as “handicraft” — macramé dresses, chunky knits, most often from women’s collectives in South America and often bedecked with crystals and other healing stones — to the benefit of both. See, for example, the long black cardigan jacket embedded with malachite, lapis lazuli and turquoise, and the trench paneled in perforated lace.

    Then there was Peter Do, who called his show “Foundation” and then focused on reinventing the suit.

    The suit? Really? Wasn’t “suits, who needs ’em?” the clarion call of professionals for the last year?

    Indeed. But in his hands what was once viewed as essential protective cover was imbued with the kind of grace that demands reconsideration.

    Focusing on a long, fluid silhouette, often with two streamer-like panels extending to the floor by each leg (the sort of styling trick that looked good in motion, but in reality probably gets in the way), he worked in black, white, beige and gray, left monochrome or juxtaposed one against the other in a 360-degree spiral.

    Jacket and sweaters sleeves were spliced open at the seams to create fluted arms; cropped bolero-like shrugs came in ribbed knits with extra-long sleeves layered atop tuxedo shirts; trousers swirled around the calves. By the end, the jackets had been reduced to halter-like lapels stretching to the floor, caught by the thinnest of black leather cords at the waist and baring the back and arms; greatcoats dropped off the shoulders and draped at the elbows like an opera stole. It wasn’t a tux, it wasn’t a gown — it was something else.

    For anyone looking for signs of hope and the future in New York, there it was.

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