NEW YORK — We've gotten a glimpse of the future of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week — and the future is now.
With more than 350 designers showing their spring 2014 collections at the fashion extravaganza, it's getting increasingly hard to stick out in the crowd. So designers are constantly trying to think of novel ways to get attention.
On Friday, designer Rebecca Minkoff teamed with singer Janelle Monáe and American Express to mix live music and fashion into one show. While Minkoff presented her collection, which she billed as a salute to Latin American women from Frida Khalo to Bianca Jagger through the decades, Monáe rocked the tents with several songs from her soon-to-be released album, The Electric Lady in a session called "American Express Unstaged."
I couldn't take my eyes off of Monáe, whose energetic spirit is topped only by her signature pompadour.
Previously, American Express has matched popular musical artists with renowned film directors, but the company billed the Minkoff/Monáe pairing as its first "fashion meets music collaboration."
While it certainly drew heightened attention — Minkoff hasn't been high on my fashion radar screen until this collaboration — it drew emphasis away from the clothes, which is never a great idea at a fashion show. I couldn't take my eyes off of Monáe, whose energetic spirit is topped only by her signature pompadour.
And she wasn't wearing a Minkoff design during her high-octane 11-minute performance. Instead she squeezed into tight white riding pants tucked into black boots, along with a white top and black suspenders. Her backup singers wore black-and-white striped tops and black pants.
Minkoff's collection was considerably more colorful and intricate, with laser-cut leather skirts and jackets in bold yellow or pastel green, shiny floral patterns, embroidered dresses, T-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Let's Go Mexico," and some pretty kinky-looking knee-high gladiator that drew Monáe's attention.
"I almost forgot the words to my song when I was looking at them on the runway," she told a reporter backstage afterwards.
Another advantage of the collaboration: It will live on much longer than most runway shows. It will be broadcast for a week on RebeccaMinkoff.com; after that AmexUnstaged.com will feature an exclusive version of the event with audio comment from the designer.
And if you link your American Express card with Facebook or Twitter and tweet with the hashtag #AmexRMinkoff, you can receive $25 off a $100 purchase on Minkoff's website. A Rebecca Minkoff Craig Camera handbag in a plum color also is offered at a significant discount ($95 for a $195 bag).