After a seven-year hiatus, Kenneth Cole returned to the runway tonight with a show for his elevated Collection line. While he may have been missing from the catwalk, Cole wasn't out of the game entirely, and he smartly turned this homecoming into a full-fledged social-media blowout. Cole encouraged showgoers and those tuning in to the live stream to get the virtual conversation going by pledging $1 to amfAR for every tweet or retweet using #KCRUNWAY. (Cole, the chairman of the board of amfAR, was honored at the organization's gala last night.) During their finale lap, the models even Instagrammed pictures of the audience for a bit of cheeky role reversal. "We wanted to use the myriad of platforms available to communicate both a social message and a fashion message in unison," he explained backstage.
All that tweeting, Instagramming, Facebooking, and tumbling shifted some of the focus away from the collection, but Cole wasn't short on ideas when it came to actual clothes either. Cole and creative director Kobi Halperin reinforced the evening's cutting-edge message with futuristic metallic leather harnesses and chokers, as well as holographic jackets and accessories that incorporated lenticular prints. At times, those high-tech styling flourishes distracted from the urban wardrobe staples here—sharp double-breasted wool coats, pleated leather trousers, and easy knits—that were ultimately very wearable; and wearability has always been a Kenneth Cole trademark. After a sea of black outfits, they introduced color into the lineup with a series of monochromatic olive and oxblood looks, and that was when the fabrics really started to pop. Case in point: the mixed-media tweed jacket and velvet cargo pants worn by Alison Nix, as well as a shaggy teal shearling vest.
On the menswear side of the equation, Cole stuck to classics like tailored glen plaid suits for the office or evening, and quilted puffer coats for the weekends. His parka jackets and slim portfolios looked good. "We don't care if people love it. We just want them to 'like' it," read one of the lines in the introductory video. Love it or like it, there's no arguing that Kenneth Cole has heart.