Tommy Hilfiger FW 2016
Tommy Hilfiger FW 2016

There’s a good reason Tommy Hilfiger is trending on social media at the moment. First, he set aside a separate “pit” just for Instagram photographers. While the move initially upset some of the professional photographers covering NYFW, Hilfiger’s people kept the two groups apart, made sure the pros had a good line of sight, and no one go hurt (that I know of). As a result, Hilfiger got thousands of images of his fall/winter line spread instantly around the world … for free.

Second reason: Tommy really upped the level of spectacle for this show. The three previous seasons had simply seen seasonal and minor topical changes made to the set at the Armory. This season, Hilfiger scrapped the old set entirely and created the deck of a steamship ala 1914, complete with shuffleboard. While the fashion was not exactly of the era, the aesthetic worked. Big band music from the 30s and 40s, including a healthy dose of Marylin Monroe from the Some Like It Hot soundtrack, played before the show. Guests entered to a heavy blue light covering everything, setting a nighttime mood. Jokes about looking for Rose and Jack were frequent as people took their seats.

With all that, the fashion could have been lousy and Tommy would still have been trending. Fortunately, though, the fashion was solid, and a very welcome change of pace for a brand that, let’s face it, has a habit of getting into a rut for a few seasons at a time. What we got was modern takes on pre-WWII fashion, some from the 30s, some 20s, maybe a couple of touches from the Titanic era. There was, predictably, plenty of navy blue, rounded, closed-toe shoes, mid-calf stockings (NOT bobby socks, which came much later), and even little tiaras because, you know, every girl is a princess on this cruise.

Where’s the modern touch? Well, let’s talk about that plunging neckline on Gigi Hadid’s opening dress, you know, the one that went all the way to the cinched waist and was just barely hidden by a loose ribbon tie. Or that cute little sailor-boy top … in leather. And do we even want to start on the amount of sheer used on both tops and skirts and even a couple of dresses? Fortunately, Tommy also has cute things to wear under them. Chokers are a big thing in this collection, and there’s even one on clear ribbon (I think) that looks almost like it might be a temporary tattoo, the give-away being that it doesn’t move with the contours of the neck.

There are plenty of nautical details, with brocade and epaulets and medallions. The fuzzy sweaters are darling, the coats are large and roomy, the pants are generous, and there’s even an Olive Oyl-style dress and red and white, if one happens to be into cartoons of that period.

If there’s a downside to this collection, it is that Hilfiger has this tendency to occasionally go overboard with things such as sequins on collars, and shorts, and the stripes of pants legs. While they weren’t everywhere, he used them enough that they began to generate eye rolls by the end of the collection. Another interesting aspect, though thoroughly enjoyable, is that when the show started the soundtrack switched from music of the era to the Best of Michael Jackson. Again, I’m not really complaining because the tempo was perfect for walking, but it didn’t quite fit the mood he had created.

Score a win for Tommy Hilfiger. Come September, he switches to current-season, see-now, buy-now for the whole collection. This is going to be an interesting year!

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