DAY ONE: WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2021

New York’s Joyful Return

CRAZY LAYERING

Everything goes with everything now, signaling a new freedom of expression. As Aaron Potts, winner of the All Gender Product Award at last year’s Rising Star event explained: “The expectations of traditional gender expression are so confining for some people. I hope to offer something that allows people to exhale, to go deeper and to embrace every part of themselves…”. Other designers, including Marissa Wilson, Harlem’s Fashion Row and Imitation of Christ, also offer freeform layering, a mad mix of active, lingerie, grunge plaid and craft ponchos. Individualism is the goal — it’s up to the wearer to create the magic.

NEW ROMANTICS

Perhaps as a balm to our troubled times, the romantic ruffles, soft florals and gentle color show no signs of slowing down. Hanako Maeda of Adeam offered vintage-flavored dresses and jumpsuits, while Cinq a Sept showed dresses fit for afternoon tea. Harlem’s Fashion Row showcased floral pajamas and Christian Siriano loosened up his silhouette for a flowing dotted frock.

MODERN GODDESS

Goddess looks are always right for spring, but this season the timeless silhouette is renewed with crafty treatments and asymmetric effects. Bronx & Banco offered an earthy tie-dye version with cutout sides, while Badgley Mischka updated a strapless frock with vivid citrine color. Alejandra Alonso Rojas updated the goddess concept with a wonderful one-shoulder cable-knit sweater, finished with cascading fringe.

COLLINA STRADA – ODE TO MOTHER EARTH

New York Fashion Week kicks off with a joyful, eco-conscious, body-positive, crafty bang with Collina Strada. Designer/founder Hillary Taymour stirs a mix of arty prints, splotchy tie-dyes, glittery vegetables and wispy layering and somehow makes it all ethereal yet street-wise. Nature’s flora and fauna are a touchpoint, expressed in fresh ways like glittery vegetables and padded creature-shaped pieces. Slouchy hand-painted jeans result from a new collaboration with Levis. Accessories are standouts: we especially love the crochet cross-body bags and the painted or decorated sneakers. All in all, a powerful message of hope and optimism.

THREE AS FOUR – HUMANS MORPH WITH NATURE

Adi Gil, Ange Donhauser, and Gabi Asfour’s Threeasfour is a best-kept New York secret; the line has been around since 1999. They have quietly evolved a particular aesthetic, part alien creature, part downtown hipster. This season their sculptural, experimental creations take on a nature-inspired dimension, as color and prints seem to draw from water, stone and insect markings. The monochromatic looks ranged from ruby reds and earthy golds to vegetal greens and aquatic blues and lilacs. The collection felt like a clear vision of what clothes will look like in the not-so-far-away future.

ULLA JOHNSON – ROMANTIC BOHEMIANS

Ulla Johnson understands that even cool city types need to express their romantic sides. This season she offers plenty of her signature ruffles and lingerie touches, made more dimensional with the addition of intricate crafts. Crochet and eyelet add complexity to ecru layers, frills are edged with stitchery, and shells, raw crystals and baroque pearls are used for trims and jewelry. Easy asymmetry, rope-soled platforms, mismatched layers and olive-drab utility pieces brought the dreamy bohemian down to earth.

WOLKER MORAIS – BROADWAY BABES

Brian Wolk and Claude Morais are former New Yorkers now living in LA, and their current collection is a mix of technicolor Hollywood glamour and pure Broadway pizazz. The pantsuit emerges as a key item, done in various shimmering jacquards, satins and lamés — all deadstock fabrics sourced from LA’s fabulous thrift shops. A hand-faded deadstock denim trench tops moiré knickers and a metallic-shot bow blouse for a tailored ensemble that captures the current festive, gender-fluid mood.

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