When a man designs for women, much is made about whether or not that designer gets women. If the consensus is that he does indeed understand the modern woman, the next question is usually: Well, does he like women? Do his collections empower women or do they marginalize them? The answer is almost always: "He designs for a particular woman", meaning the sophisticated social; the downtown chick; the fashion girl. Muses are often conjured. And the conversation dead ends at an icon. See Grace Kelly. Kate Moss. Sarah Jessica.
Now, as a man who edits the country's most widely-read women's fashion magazine, I am particularly interested in seeing what women designers have in store for women each season. After all, they undoubtedly bring a first-person perspective to the equation. Nobody questions whether or not, a Donna Karan or a Victoria Beckham say, can relate to women. We have to assume that they not only design for their customer but also for themselves. How then does a female designer's experience as a working woman -- often times a working mother -- influence the clothes she sends down the runway as she imagines the role they might play in the real world? Who is today's woman and what does she need?
Here's a look at just who or what inspired some of the queens of the NYFW runway, in their own words:
From left: Rebecca Minkoff -- Strong Latinas (Frida Kahlo, Bianca Jagger). Nicole Miller -- Strong women who stormed Versailles. Jill Stuart -- The 1970's rock-star girlfriend. Charlotte Ronson -- A Parisian girl in New York.
From left: Diane Von Furstenburg -- A desert oasis. Vivienne Tam -- Modern Shanghai. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen for The Row -- True American culture. Carolina Herrera -- The kinetic art movement. Donna Karan -- Urban safari.
While the creative spark may vary, it's clear that the 2014 woman is formidable, vibrant, global and decidedly modern.
For more New York Fashion Week coverage, visit InStyle.com.