Utility looks go uptown with luxe fabrics, artful layering and flowing silhouettes. Peter Do likened his process to cooking with his dad. “A good Pho is reduced and edited, to an essence…”, he wrote in a personal note to attendees, reflected in a collection that is both minimalist and rich, with easy pants cut from lustrous satin. Ulla Johnson showed plenty of utility of pieces, a grounding counterpoint to her ruffled creations. Former FGI Rising Star winner 2006, Philip Lim softened his khaki blouson with petal-like storm flaps, inspired by his North Fork garden. Neutral khakis and olive drabs underline the easy wearability of these workwear-inspired pieces.


Navy-and-white combos are versatile; the palette can go earthy for ancient crafts like Japanese shiburi or can offer classic crispness to yarn-dye shirtings. New York designer Michelle Duncan shapes her ticking stripes into a fitted-bodice frock, while Ulla Johnson experimented with shibori dye techniques. Jane Siskin of Cinq a Sept showed a matching knit cardigan, bra and skirt for a new take on the sweater set, in an intarsia plaid that felt slightly nautical yet urban, perfect for her presentation’s breezy rooftop setting.


Summery plaids and ginghams are having a moment, bringing a rethought Americana attitude to all sorts of items. Prabal Gurung questioned identity as an American as well as gender, coming up with a gingham dress that manages to suggest both a cheongsam and a sweatshirt. He also presented a modern take on the Western shirt, done in pastel plaid. FGI Rising Star winner 2021, Aaron Potts of APotts went further into the Americana territory with homespun patchworks and country-ready sundresses, perhaps inspired by his home in the Catskills. Phillip Lim offered a vivid layered ensemble that mixes intarsia plaids with printed windowpanes.


Despite Miranda Preistly’s scathing “Flowers? For spring? Groundbreaking”, florals are synonymous with spring and never lose their appeal. For next spring Libertine went blossom crazy, covering pantsuits with lilacs and adding matching paillettes for 3-D petal effects. Peter Do used placed blooms to dramatic effect, as in giant peonies embroidered onto a simple coat. Menswear gets in a romantic mood too; Prabal Gurung enlivens a lustrous tailored suit with an allover scatter of delicate blooms.


Perhaps a reaction to all the loose-fitting pandemic-wear, corsets and other foundation garments are out from under, worn over blouses, under sweaters or on their own. Parsons grad and celeb darling Sintra Martins did a pale pink silk bustier for her new label Saint Sintra; raw edges and a hardware-store clip give it an edge. Christian Siriano did his signature red-carpet ready boned corset looks, while Ulla Johnson and Prabal Gurung offered more casual interpretations. Maryam Nassir Zadeh, whose boutique on Norfolk Street is a longtime favorite of Lower East Side denizens, went a softer route with a baby pink triangle bra, visible under a shimmering sheer shift dress. As feminine as the look is, her clothes are meant for any gender expression.


Pink has evolved from insipid bubblegum and fifties “shocking” to neutral “millennial” shades to eighties-throwback fuchsias. Of late though, bright pinks are the color of activism, with groups like the Supermajority, an equality advocacy group, donning pink pantsuits and taking to the streets. The new power color is used for next spring for everything from mens’ active pants from Erigo, an Indonesian streetwear line featuring sustainable materials, to a high-necked maxi dress from Proenza Schouler, giving the monastic silhouette a modern punch.


Upcoming FGI Night of Stars honoree and former FGI Rising Star, Gabriela Hearst presented an artful collection that fused time-honored craft with a modern sensibility. The Uruguay-born designer collaborated with various artisans, including Navajo weavers and a Bolivian collective who made the colorful crochets. The swirly motifs are based on a painting Hearst created with her children. One rib-knit sweaterdress has a webby inset studded with polished geodes. She explained in her press notes: “Being able to create beautiful pieces that are desirable and at the same time that empower others is probably one of the most satisfying personal experiences.” That experience is part of what makes fashion meaningful, and sure to be shared by the eventual wearers of these carefully conceived pieces.