New York fashion week’s biggest show didn’t happen on a catwalk, or even in New York, but in a Las Vegas football stadium.
The Super Bowl was the dressiest, glitziest event of the most important week in the fashion calendar, with the world’s most famous designers competing to dress players, performers and high-profile guests, and celebrities vying to turn heads with avant garde clothing choices.
The romance between Taylor Swift and the Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce – complete with an edge-of-the-seat plot twist of Swift dashing from her sold-out tour date in Tokyo to cheer on her boyfriend’s team – created a romcom-worthy alternative narrative to the game itself that drew a worldwide audience beyond sports fans.
Kelce is a fashion superfan who has a longstanding record of championing up and coming designers. Swift, who is followed by more cameras than some of the on-field players when she attends games, has been supporting the work of Kristin Juszczyk, the wife of the San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk and a self-taught designer who upcycles game jerseys into one-off fashion pieces. When Swift wore a custom puffer coat created by Kristin Juszczyk out of Kelce’s 87 jersey, the designer became an overnight fashion hit.
The designers whose slots on the New York show schedule clashed with the game might well have felt they were competing on an uneven playing field this season. Many of the fashion faithful, including the fellow designers Marc Jacobs and Jenna Lyons, did turn up to see Ludovic de Saint Sernin’s Manhattan show – a spicy collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe collection, which leant into leather, bondage lacing and transparency – despite it going head to head with Usher’s half-time performance. But there was no escaping the sense that the eyes of the world were on what was being worn in Las Vegas.
Area, a respected cutting-edge New York label, was another independent brand whose show took place in New York on the day of the Super Bowl. But any loss of coverage was more than made up for by Swift choosing to wear the brand’s Crystal Slit jeans, a high-waisted denim style with an embellished slash at each upper thigh, to the game. Before the match was over the jeans, which retail for $695, had sold out.
The New York catwalks might have lost out to the Super Bowl, but fashion triumphed, with a higher profile than ever before. Half-time performances have a tradition of being a style moment – Beyoncé’s Formation show, with its homage to the Black Panthers, made fashion headlines around the world in 2016 – but Usher’s custom-made Dolce & Gabbana wardrobe, complete with coordinating roller skates, was just one of many head-turning looks on Sunday.
Mike Amiri, an independent American designer whom Kelce has long supported, released a briefing to Womenswear Daily, announcing the arrival outfit he had made for his friend.
“Travis is wearing a silhouette from our spring 2024 collection that we reworked to reference the occasion of Vegas’ first Super Bowl,” he said. “The look is very much our take on modern tailoring, with a cropped jacket and baggy trouser, here made in a black bouclé fabric woven with paillettes to celebrate the showman that he is.”