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Designers are turning up the volume for next fall with all sorts of inflated silhouettes. Jason Wu was inspired by fashion illustrations of the 1950s; you can see echoes of mid-century drawings by Gruau and Eric in his voluminous-skirted cocktail dress. Color is part of the volume story: Ulla Johnson departed from her frilly florals with an easy bubble dress in lovely shade of citrine yellow, and The Row’s rounded kimono jacket gets an extra punch from vivid green. Aaron Potts, whose clothes are meant for any gender expression, any age, and any size, showed floaty caftan dresses. Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler experimented with slit sleeves and looped hemlines, bringing billowy allure to a simple shirt and skirt ensemble.


Romantic florals are not just for Spring, as evidenced by all the flower-festooned frocks that graced the runways this week. Beijing-born Snow Xue Gao was inspired by the peonies and Chinese roses of her homeland, bringing contemporary nonchalance to a vintage-y dress. Ulla Johnson layered an autumnal-toned floral bodice-dress over a printed turtle base layer. Puff or poet sleeves add to the romance, as in a sweeping boho maxi from Zimmermann, and easy peasant style from Tanya Taylor. A flutter-sleeved number from Derek Lam conjured up 1930s nostalgia with its flat floral motif and body-skimming fit-and-flare silhouette.


A darker side of romance emerged this season for looks that mix the schoolgirl goth of Wednesday Adams with the edginess of 80s East Village punks. Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta of Eckhaus Latta showed deconstructed looks, like a handmade chainmail tank over artfully pieced and paneled pants. Chris Leba’s collection for R13 had a Victorian punk mood, lightened with a mix of pearls and Gothic jewelry rendered in bright white. Shiny black patent gave A. Potts’ romantic ruffles a moody, tough-tender look.  Elena Velez gave a resilient spirit to her Victorian damsels, partly through the upcycled fabrics she chose, as in parachute nylons, ship sails (an homage to her sea captain mother) and military-grade canvas, their ruggedness contrasting with delicate corsetry constructions.


Wooly blanket plaids are synonymous with fall, but designers bring newness to the pattern this season with bolder colors, bigger layouts and a head-to-toe approach. Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon did matched sets that were part activewear, part flannel pajama, with “letterman” appliqués giving it all a retro preppy feel. Derek Lam used plaids for dresses and blouses as well for a polished pantsuit with a 1970s vibe. Chelsea Hansford of Simon Miller used the word “emotional” to describe her playful non-basics, as in a bright plaid chore jacket over appealingly fleecy pants. Sintra Martins of Saint Sintra always seems to know what the cool girls will want next. This season she was inspired by a Covid-extended stay in Florence. You can feel the influence of that timeless city in the sumptuous Italian plaid that was cut into a trim little suit.


Athleisure is now a given, as the influence of true sport attire infiltrates every category. For next fall the look is bolder and brighter, with time-honored shapes and color-blocking giving it all a retro spin. Swaim Hutson of The Academy New York styled a baseball jacket over a denim pencil skirt; this season he was inspired by the film stills in an out-of-print book on Vincent Gallo’s 1998 film, Buffalo 66. Stephane Ashpool of Pigalle did a luxe take on tracksuits inspired by his label’s namesake Paris neighborhood. Teddy Voranson showed easy-to-layer basics in tonal monochromes like vivid magenta—an emerging hue for menswear. Nicholas Raefski’s sporty looks also had a throwback feel, with quilted or velour tracksuits and baseball jackets updated with bold color combos.