Why has this happened to a fashion country that was once so exciting?
In a word, greed. This is a vast and lucrative market - why do you think London fashion is destroying itself trying to break into it? - and it devours fashion in huge quantities. But, because of the sheer numbers involved in its retail structure, it can afford to take very few risks, so, more than any other market in the world, it must dumb down, just as all American mass culture must. And, as we all know, mass means crass. If you set out to be all things to all men (or women) you end up with a sort of porridge that appeals to no discerning palette.
That is why 7th Avenue is a sinful place. The home of the US rag trade is dominated by the dream of the quick buck at any cost and its aesthetic has insidiously permeated designer level clothing over the last ten years. The result is that designers there are hailed not for being good but for no other reason than being the new kids on the block, no matter how banal and boring they may be. Old designers plod on, weakening their message with each season in the race to keep up with the second rate. It is a corrosive situation which could well spread and I find it alarming that such infantile attitudes have such sway across the fashion world.
All of which makes me ask why, in these financially strapped days, journalists keep New York on the schedule of international venues. Frankly, on current performance it really doesn't deserve any attention at all.