Marc Jacobs has been the de facto face of American design for a while, but not since the days of grunge has his work been idiosyncratically American. Lately, his work has been overshadowed by his frequent tabloid presence. Zac Posen was thought, for a time, to be the new wunderkind of American design with the potential for knocking Marc Jacobs off his throne, but his star seems to have fallen. Thakoon is a fashion darling, but my impression is that his fame is due in large part to his youth and the consistently high quality of his work, rather than his exceptional talent for innovation. Older American designers rely on heavy-handed, sometimes literal flag-waving (Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger), but their designs are too cautious and conservative to be pioneering. Ditto Donna Karan and others, whose work is good, to be sure, but whose inventiveness is debatable.
After Reed Krakoff's fashion week debut in less than two weeks, the fashion world may have a new American design pioneer. The level of anticipation surrounding his show is palpable, and the amount of press it's receiving is a testament to that fact. Once the reviews are in, critics may find themselves shouting a collective "Go West!", and New York could reclaim its place as the global fashion capital, paving the design path for the new decade. But there's no telling till the last model walks down the RK runway, so stay tuned.
"Art, design, and architecture influence everything I do... Right now, for me it's about re-embracing design that is unmistakably American—reimagining and reconfiguring it, while simultaneously elevating it, in a way." Regarding this image of a Lee Bontecou sculpture, Reed Krakoff said, "I'm really feeling for these kind of naive, industrial textures, but executed in a more refined, unexpected way." - Vogue