As you may have seen on Instagram, I skipped town last weekend for Miami. I know, I know, why would I leave during the second (third, fourth, or fifth) most important fashion week of the year? Because why not. My team was out and about, and I had my iPhone and computer with me. I love fashion week, but I love the clothes, not so much the scene.
The first couple of days of fashion week, the emerging designers run the show.
Self-Portrait is the young brand from Han Chong. His dresses have been everywhere due to their statement-making impact and affordability. Fall proved a bit more range for Chong as he evolved his usual lace focused A-line dresses into pants and jackets, as well as body-skimming dresses. He sets himself apart with his use of fabric and texture.
Jill Stuart has been churning out bohemian/gypsy/glamorous collections for years so nothing too new here, but I love designers who stay true to most innate aesthetic. Especially easy for customers outside of the industry who stick to what they know.
Tanya Taylor is a designer I have kept my eye on when she launched years ago with a very pretty debut collection at MoMA. As new designers do, she has gone a different direction since that first season. There is always a specific inspiration for a collection and Taylor always drives it home. Collections from season to season can feel all over the place. Her fall collection spoke to me though. Maybe it was the lack of so many bright colors and prints or that she showed more restraint, but it felt more authentic, grounded and a bit more timeless.
To say I adore Mona Kowalska of A Détacher is an understatement. I respect her. I trust her. You can tell she is constantly challenging herself and it shows in the collection. Fall was no different with nods to the West, Victorian-era and with a general sporty theme, I still sensed an edginess in this collection I don’t normally see. Kowalska knows what she is doing inside and out and it is such a wonderful ride to take with her to explore different sides of her woman.
Wes Gordon’s decision to premiere his collection in short videos via Instagram was perfect for him. I’m always a fan of his uptown lady with dark and mysterious vibes who loves the 90s clothes – but a runway show format was not ideal for his brand. Wes Gordon is a favorite among insiders, but I think his clothes got lost, especially after a month of shows for those outside the industry. IMO, the context the videos provided will elevate brand awareness and impact sales.
Apiece Apart is another young-ish brand appealing to a specific lifestyle as opposed to a singular customer. The Apiece Apart team spend a lot of time on branding and because of this there is little confusion on who this girl is. Nothing groundbreaking in terms of design, but consistently easy separates that look and feel nice.
Victoria Beckham presented such a strong Fall collection that days later I’m still thinking about it. This coat in particular. She perfectly balanced the femininity of the bustier shapes with menswear inspired fabrics, snug fitting skirts and flat shoes. She is a designer who keeps getting better.
For a few seasons Derek Lam has looked to the 70s for inspo – Fall was a refreshing break from that decade for him. The separates felt sportier and I loved the frilly neckline turtlenecks styled with dresses. I wish he would abandon his gowns from the main collection itself, save them for private clients or a special capsule. They felt out of place among a well-designed sportswear collection.
Loulou de la Falaise, black and white with pops of rich burgundy, blues, and green filled Altuzarra’s gorgeous Fall collection. He is the master of day-to-night dressing, sexy without feeling exposed, and always gives us one of the most coveted dresses of the season.
My appreciation for the Tome brand is well chronicled here. But I feel there is a huge disconnect on and off the runway. I love their shows but there are a lot of things to digest as they routinely have many inspirations in one collection. The designers really show their range within each look, but this is tough when you see it for like a minute as it goes around the runway. I don’t know if this means the styling is good or not. My issue is what I see on the runway is not what I see available online or in stores months later. I never feel what I feel at the show when all I see are karate pants and striped shirting representing Tome. I feel like maybe people aren’t taking a full chance on Tome?
This was possibly the strongest, most interesting collection from Phillip Lim in awhile. I felt like he sort of lost his mojo and was giving us generic sportswear, until I saw this collection. Everything that made him great when he started out was here: utilitarian romance, menswear inspired dressing, and CONTRAST. His collections are not easy and effortless, and not for the unfussy woman.
Tibi has hit its stride. Actually for many seasons now. Amy Smilovic has a winning combination of a strong, yet wearable theme for each collection. Military and menswear-inspired elements told the story here. And her version of cargo pants and pantsuits felt quite feminine and totally wearable.
The buzziest collection of NYFW was the debut from Sies Marjan – Sander Lak was tapped to create a luxury brand in New York. Backing and built-in support are two things new designers rarely have at the same time. The cool girls from the 90s gave Lak the inspiration for his print heavy, drapey, silk embroidered collection. He was head of design at Dries for 5 years prior and there are definitely nods to the aesthetic there. Time will only tell how his debut translates off the runway.
There is much fanfare around a Rosie Assoulin collection. And not without its due, she is innovative and experimental and has defined a look for herself. I’m always interested in what I see, but I’m still not convinced her collections are practical. I’ve only seen her pieces on the red carpet and on Leandra Medine’s Instagram, never a real woman, like doing real world things. I would imagine it’s hard to run around the city in those exaggerated proportions. But maybe I’m being too hopeful, maybe her collections are so artful they’re not for this purpose. I need to be able to imagine someone other than a celebrity standing still in one’s clothes.
The Proenza Schouler is one of the final shows during NYFW and thank goodness for this solid, substantial, innovative brand because New York fashion week needs Proenza more than Proenza needs fashion week. Evidenced by the fact that the Proenza boys are steering their brand to be more consumer friendly by making part of their Fall 2016 collection available immediately for purchase. My personal affection for Proenza is relatively new, I have appreciated the brand from afar for years, but when I start spending money on a brand it changes the way I look at it. For Fall, Jack and Lazaro expanded on their ribbon detail concept from last season and featured lace-up details on coats, sweaters, and dresses. The rib dresses and cap toe boots will be the hits here. What I love about this brand is that it doesn’t feel pretentious despite it’s roots in the art world and the boys’ devotion to the process. The clothes look good in real life and I think this is what makes it great.