The long awaited New York Fashion Week season has officially come to an end. Although one of the most highly anticipated weeks in the international fashion calendar is behind us, it has left us with a plethora of innovative and creative collections from both emerging and established designers. There are few collections that allowed first-hand up close detailed views of the garments as well as personal one-on-one interviews with the designers. Being able to view a designer’s collection in itself is enough to excite even a casual fashion lover, but to speak with the designer and learn their thought process is surely another treat!
NEW YORK MENS DAY
The week started off, as always with a glimpse into New York Men’s Day. This is a three-floor, in person activation featuring some of the industries’ top menswear talent. This year’s men’s show was sponsored by CROSS EYED MOOSE who displayed their own collection front and center at the venue. The collection featured well-known TikTok model Chris Flora as well as others wearing camo print and cargo inspired outerwear. It took the hiking aesthetic to the New York Fashion Week runway. Other designers included Atelier Cillian that always infuses moody dark fabrics into intricate couture level tailoring. Also Nicholas Raefski wowed the audience with a unique collection, different than his previous aesthetic. Coats donned artistic faces, suits and skirts had artistic prints, and burnout motifs that resembled birds flying. It was clear that New York Men’s Day, put together by Agentry PR, was a celebration of all the amazing menswear designers that the world will undoubtedly get to know and wear very soon.
SNOW XUE GAO
On the second day of New York Fashion Week, the shows and designers wasted no time. The first show of the day started bright and early at the Snow Xue Gao store in the Bowery. Snow had such an overwhelming turnout at last year’s runway that spilled into the streets outside, that she opted to do a viewing presentation this season. Snow is a master at mixing her print designs and showcasing the vibrant floral prints that her team has become known for. The collection, styled beautifully, featured plaid coats, pants, and skirts mixed with an assortment of loud mixed prints which separately each told an individual story, but together worked perfectly into a cohesive message. Models also sported 1960’s inspired hair and makeup which gave the printed Twiggy-esque silhouettes even more nostalgia to them.
Next, Tiffany Brown, a designer who started her collection in 2008 in Georgia premiered a fabulous monochromatic collection at New York Fashion Week Headquarters: Spring Studios. The collection was based around one shade alone: grey. From sportswear, to monogramed athleisure, and even sweeping tulle gowns, Brown managed to fully adapt an entire line of grey garments to a full scale story. I was fortunate enough to interview the designer about how her monochromatic line came to be, and how the cities in which she creates and displays her collection influences the designs themselves:
Q: Was it challenging to take the color grey, which is more muted, and make so many beautiful silhouettes? What was that process like?
A: I have been wanting to tackle grey for about 2 years but it was the combination of the factors of finding the right fabrics along with an expansion of design ideas. I have to visualize the pieces and then look for musical inspiration. Going from a sketch to an actual piece is a process but I wanted to challenge myself to tell a story this season.
Q:What is it like taking your collection from Georgia to New York fashion week? How do you think the cities individually inspire your work?
A: I start early usually after the previous collection is completed. So I started working on this collection back in late September 2022. I believe it gives me the ability to be my most authentic self.
The different cities influenced my style technique. My monochromic theme of one color is very common in the South. Southern people are very theme color oriented and so my design work grew from there.
Q: What advice would you give to an emerging designer who dreams of showing at NYFW headquarters one day?
A: Keep showing each collection even if it is a 12-piece collection. Show at the smaller fashion weeks opportunities such as PLITZS Fashion Week or Small Business Fashion Week. It helps to build your brand and visibility. It also develops your portfolio and following. Never stop showing.
GLOBAL FASHION COLLECTIVE
Global Fashion Collective is an organization that gives emerging designers a runway to show their latest collections while still having a part in the fashion week calendar. This season, the collective was able to showcase several designer’s work by splitting the lineup into three completely new and distinct shows. At the earliest show, two designers were front and center. The first, a reoccurring brand was Nolo designed by Luis Corrales from Mexico. Corrales put together a full sportswear activation that spanned models from toddlers to adults. The collection was mostly neutrals with a few neon pops of color. Textures such as fur and sequins made this collection very salable and versatile to shoppers of all ages. Another designer, HEEYONGHeE, showcased a collection of tailoring with wool coats featuring Avant Garde draping, seam lines, and hardware. The tailoring line had an overall futuristic and moody feel which was matched by the music and fierce walks of the models.
Mother-daughter duo Cynthia and Najla Burt of Washington D.C. have done it again. Their triumphant collection at New York Fashion Week was a celebration of color, pattern, and culture. The designers dazzled their audience sending down the runway look after look, all clean, wearable silhouettes but draped in the most gorgeous and fantastical colors and prints. Their collection carried the theme of “travel in the post pandemic world”. That was apparent through their use of jet-set, vacation worthy ensembles that would wow even the most casual fashion novice. The use of luxurious silks and velvets complimented the sleek silhouettes. Mother and daughter came out to a roar of applause for their celebratory return to the fashion week calendar. The pair known for vibrant color and whimsical design have outdone themselves!
Zimo designed by Zimo Yan was inspired by the theme of hoarding. Entitled “Hoarderism- Documentary of Hoarders from the 90s Nostalgia” models were lined up against clothing racks wrapped in fabric placed next to columns adorned with heaps of excess textile scaps and trash. The models stood in shrouds of clothing with buttons and other notions glued to their face. The models would slowly pace back and forth through the venue, presumably overwhelmed by the accumulation of “stuff”. The models later retreated into a small back room to put on even more garments. In the next room sat an older woman knitting surrounded by piles of discarded knits and trash. When the models returned, the set had changed and their clothing racks were filmed with more of Zimo’s designs. Models, in a performance art piece, began to put on each garment, one of top of the other to symbolize the hoarding of garments. When I spoke to Zimo Yan directly, she had said that this collection was inspired by her grandparents and the accumulation of stuff they had acquired that had struck her growing up.
Identical twin brothers and church preachers, Bruce and Glen Proctor celebrated their New York Fashion Week debut with Afterpay and Runway X, a collection of emerging designers who were able to show their collections in a condensed runway configuration on the mezzanine floor of Spring Studios. They began fashion week by hosting a luncheon at Pier 59 studios and conducting a panel with Afterpay and Lawrence Lenihan of Resonance clothing manufacturing. They spoke about their devotion to fashion and faith as well as a commitment to sustainability and creating colorful designs that make the world smile. On show day, the collection started by the brothers preaching about their journey backstage. They emotionally dedicated their collection to their late mother, who would no doubt be proud of her boys. Then a Grammy award winning gospel singer serenaded the crowd with lively hymns. Then the show began, a boisterous collection of bright colors, fantastical hair and makeup, and color blocking that would make even the most neutral of dressers, grin from ear to ear. Each model, whether sporting vibrant menswear or womenswear was met with cheers and affirmations. It turned the serious nature of fashion shows into a party. Bruce and Glen took a victorious lap around the audience and celebrated the whole way around.
And of course, I have to mention that I debuted my own first solo collection during New York Fashion Week! I am known for creating transforming gowns and I released a line of coats and faux fur stoles that turn into a dress, avoiding any need for a coat check. The collection was inspired by the 1957 movie Funny Face in which Sunny Harnett steps out of the car with a pink fur stole around her shoulders in the pouring rain. She then releases her stole to reveal a beautiful fur skirt to compliment her vibrant pink gown. My collection embraced this old Hollywood feel with satin and polka dot velvet swing dresses. The finale was a giant 35 yard tulle dress that transformed into a full charmeuse ball gown. I can’t wait to further show new collections alongside the greats!
New York Fashion Week is always a celebrated time for designers, models, photographers, buyers, merchandisers, stylists, and bloggers. It always brings a community of creatives and fashion lovers together to celebrate what we love most: clothing! It’s safe to say that this Fall/Winter season delivered some memorable moments and we no doubt look forward to doing it all again in September!