Tracy Reese was pushing for more diversity in fashion way before it became a major talking point of the Spring ’18 season. Her shows have long featured women of different ages and ethnicities, and she’s recently expanded into plus sizes, too. But her presentation at Pier 59 today will likely go down as one of the most diverse and feel-good of the week—and that’s partly because her gorgeous cast of “real”-looking women didn’t just stand there and look pretty.
First, let’s address the clothes. From the get-go, they had a mood-lifting effect: There was a kaleidoscope of graphic Hawaiian prints, Schiaparelli-pink suits, iridescent sequin dresses, and swishy, fringed shifts. These were lively, happy, mostly uncomplicated pieces, and it struck you that this is exactly what Reese does best. But, as the designer pointed out, “The woman makes the clothes.” That’s why hers had such energy. From afar, it seemed like the models were chatting with editors and buyers in the crowd, but as you got closer, it became clear that they were actually speaking in different languages, and to no one in particular. “I wanted them to tell their stories about their journeys, their dreams, and their aspirations, in whatever language felt most natural to them,” Reese explained. It made you pause not only to listen to what they were saying, but to take a few extra moments to consider the clothes in context too.
Reese pointed out a few models who were over 40, explaining that they brought more to the collection than she’d even anticipated: confidence, ease, serenity—qualities you can’t fake. They represented the woman who actually buys and wears Tracy Reese; casting them was the sort of thing that makes so much sense, you can’t believe it isn’t common practice. Almost anything looks good on a twenty-something model with a perfect body, but if a citron lace dress makes a working mom look radiant, even better.