21-Jan, 23:04

09:19, February 26 961 0

2018-02-26 09:19:03
Fashion Review: Tommy Hilfiger Runs Out of Gas

MILAN — Milan Fashion Week ended much as it began: with a spectacle pitched as an alternative to the traditional show — one better suited, in theory, to the immediate gratification demands of these Instagram-centric times.

The driver of the change: Tommy Hilfiger, who for the last three seasons has taken his #TommyNow party-cum-product-launch-cum-pop-up-shop on the road from New York to Los Angeles to London — and now Milan.

Each time, he dressed up his dresses, and his see-now/buy-now collaboration with the model Gigi Hadid, with evermore elaborate experiential accessories: a South Street Seaport carnival, complete with rides and lobster rolls; a Venice Beach party, with fire-eaters and food trucks; a Roundhouse rock circus, with acrobats and a concert. Milan would be the last pit stop for the Tommy x Gigi show; the partnership was coming to its contractual end.

What could he do to top himself?

The invite said “Drive.” It was announced earlier this month that Hilfiger had replaced Hugo Boss as the main sponsor of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Formula One team, and would be providing all travel and team uniforms as well as office and hospitality gear. Would there be a car race with models at the wheel? Would Lewis Hamilton do a demo? Would the audience get to go for a test run?


Mr. Hilfiger had imported a few sleek silver racecars, it was true — they stood resplendent in the convention center that was once the site of Milan Fashion Week, now abandoned by the style set. There were piles of Pirelli tires, too, and a pit stop challenge that involved a very loud wheel gun. Also apparently, a race simulator, though no one seemed that inclined to play, and a shop selling the Tommy x Gigi merchandise (that was more popular, preshow). Around it all was an endless track/runway.

Down which came a Tommy Team of models, including Ms. Hadid’s sister Bella and brother Anwar, wearing cropped tops in — wait for it! — racing flag checks; leather sweats and very short skirts; stars ’n’ stripes anoraks, and a bunch of bathing suits, all in black, white, red and blue (with some Italian team colors thrown in). There were black and white striped shirtdresses, denim printed with trompe l’oeil patches, and faux family crests. At the end, Mr. Hilfiger and Ms. Hadid took a royal lap together, waving to the 2,000-plus audience, which was full of fans. Still, none of it had very much vroom.

Trying alternatives to the usual show cycle is laudable — goodness knows we all complain enough about it, and there’s a general free-floating belief that at some point, when someone has a genuinely better idea, it will all change.

But what Mr. Hilfiger’s four-season cycle demonstrates is that when the social-media friendly smoke and mirrors clear, it’s still about clothes, and if the clothes aren’t very good — aren’t original or interesting or desirable — then it doesn’t matter how revved up you get.

You can still run out of gas.