- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - Social media provocateur Kenneth Cole put actors Alan Cumming and Rachel Dratch on his runway and in a movie Monday that begged the question: “What’s real and what’s for show?”

Known for his embrace of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook - and occasional social media mishaps - Cole projected onto white walls images of models holding signs that declared: “We’re all accessories,” ”If in doubt, check Instagram,” ”This fashion is for real, or is it for show?” and “Everybody’s life is better than yours.”

In a short film that opened the show in a stark white space on West 50th Street, Cumming and Dratch engaged in some Twitter one-upmanship, lying to each other as they lounged at home about fabulous buys, famous friends and nights out on the town.

At finale time, the two popped out from backstage and walked a winding runway together.

Cole’s muse in clothes for men and women was an urban gypsy fond of wide-brimmed hats and pinstripes. He added a pop of red in sequins for women and deep burgundy for the guys.

In a backstage interview before the show, Cole spoke enthusiastically about buying back his 30-year-old clothing and accessories company that went public in 1994. In many ways, he said, he feels he’s his own customer.

“I love kind of curating him and elevating him and now that we’re a private company, it’s easier to do that. It’s just a wonderful time and a unique time, probably, in this company’s history,” he said.

And he talked about the big impact of social media on the fashion industry.

“It’s defined how we consume what we wear, how we define ourselves, how we introduce ourselves to the world in kind of interesting and compelling ways,” Cole said.

Generally, he said, social media has pushed the “real or show” question to the cultural forefront.

“Are we over-glamorizing ourselves, and if so to what end, and then one asks the question, does it matter? That’s the bigger message right now. Today, social media has enabled everybody to be their own brand and they curate their brand every day, and they welcome people into their brand. And my goal as a designer today is to try and get you to accept me as part of your brand.”

Cole, through social media and his foundation, is an activist for AIDS research and the homeless. An old friend, Jon Bon Jovi, was in the audience. The two designed a coat and T-shirt together for charity.

“I don’t go to fashion shows, so this is fun,” Bon Jovi said.


Follow Leanne on Twitter at https://twitter.com/litalie

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