After two mostly virtual editions, the flagship fashion event is returning to an in-person format with resurgent themes and a clear post-pandemic influence that has seen moments of spectacle but also sentimentality.
By Husein Esufally
September 13, 2021
Extravagant production, family-inspired presentations, transformational showcases – Fashion Week’s return to physical shows reflected the post-pandemic mood. Under the theme âReturn to Glamorâ, designers and brands experimented with new places (Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, Empire State Building) and innovative ideas (see Jeremy Scott’s âbaby ladyâ maternal collection for Moschino). Here, we’ve rounded up ten of our favorite shows from New York Fashion Week 2021.
To kick off this season’s festivities, Ulla Johnson has taken over the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to launch her spring 2022 ready-to-wear collection that depicts the post-pandemic woman. As the first designer to occupy this iconic venue, Johnson fosters an intimate dialogue through ruffles, batiks, embroidery and intricate floral prints in soft tones that are both whimsical and utilitarian. Under the backdrop of a fountain of flowers and cicada sounds, Johnson channeled the spirit of a resort getaway through a collection that highlights her knack for feminine details.
The skin and the sky were at the center of LaQuan Smith’s rooftop display in perhaps Fashion Week’s most anticipated venue: the Empire State Building. The opulence was further accentuated by the parade of groomed poodles dressed in designer clothes. Smith’s choice of track pieces, however, gave off an alluring high edge as it frames the body to create innovative shapes, a signature of the designer’s playbook. This season, Smith is swapping his renowned use of corsetry and latex for terrycloth, and his recent partnership with Puma has seen him push the boundaries of his audience.
As a testament to his early years in New York City, Jeremy Scott selected Bryant Park – once the epicenter of Fashion Week – for the launch of his RTW Spring 2022 collection which started with Gigi Hadid (holding a bottle no less). The show harnessed Moschino’s legacy of tailor-made costumes; Paired with the kindergarten theme, the programming took on a whole new sense of fun. Sporting a mix of playful designs with giraffes, elephants and seals, the ‘baby lady’ power suits gave a whimsical take on the modern mom.
Snow Xue Gao
Opting for a sentimental display instead of a parade, Snow Xue Gao shared a piece of his childhood with his collection. Gao described how as a child she often got lost in her grandmother’s garden painting filled with Gongbi peonies (traditional Chinese art). Merging his modern take on the ‘king of flowers’ amid houndstooth and plaid patterns, Gao taps into Asian aesthetics to launch silk garments that are both relaxed and fitted. She recounted her hand-drawn process through an animated projection and set the mood with a live pianist, a tribute to her grandmother who was a Beijing opera singer. Gao’s myriad of anecdotal references reinforced âthe emotion of the familyâ in his heritage collection.
The good girl gone wrong, American goth and rock ‘n roll are the predominant themes of Michelle Duncan’s debut show. With a familiar focus on waste and utility, Duncan updated his timeless black-and-white color scheme after a trip to Miami. âI was inspired by everything that was going on there. It added a magical sparkle to everything I did, âshe says. âOver the past year, everyone across the world, like it or not, has undergone a transformation. Channeling ideas of rebellion and advantage since its founding in 2019, Duncan has maintained his avant-garde outlook and has reflected his personal change in his collection with hues of scarlet red and lotus blue in bare silhouettes that recalled his tropical escape.
The sartorial elegance presented in poetry. Taking a dark take on American fashion, Thom Browne put on a dark academia-tinged show. Penny-farthings, pegasus headgear and eerie echoes of singles filled the ghostly Hudson Yards room as the designer launched a three-part mix of Plato-inspired costumes, pure marble maxi dresses and draperies in trompe-l’oeil tulle (a nod to the tragic memory of the show’s date, Sept. 11) Browne’s RTW Spring 2022 collection was a masterful exercise in theatricality, craftsmanship and nostalgia.
Bronx and Banco
Known for being a jet setter, Natalie D’Banco’s RTW Spring 2022 collection transported the essence of her latest lover to Tulum. âI miss traveling. I just want us to go out again, to be free and happy, âshe said. ” I wanted to [the collection] be more daring and fun, not yoga pants and pajamas. D’Banco kicked off his vision of an alluring bohemian fantasy on the rooftop of Spring Studios with a constant rotation of figures with fearless slits, sultry curves and breezy fabrics accented with capsule bags made from seashells and rope. recycled.
Project track Winner Christian Siriano marries his practice of launching diverse models with his grandmother’s affinity for bright orange tones with his Spring 2022 RTW collection which emphasizes body positivity. Hosted at Gotham Hall, Siriano chose model Precious Lee as his opener and closest, and a diverse range of beauties in between, as he continued his new embrace of inclusive fashion. Ranging from printed blacks to punchy oranges to leafy greens, Siriano has displayed the electricity of evening wear through a range of frames to suit every woman, no matter what her physique.
Barefoot and Bold: Kate and Laura Mulleavy presented a line that celebrates nature’s raw soul and draws on their mother’s artistry and father’s botanical specialization. Inside a sunny courtyard at 155 Bank Street, Rodarte launched a range of looks that bridge business wear and sleepwear: polished blazers, floral-print dresses and lace constructions. The highlight of the show was the closing mushroom dress, which struck a chord with Rodarte’s co-founding sisters: the piece was a reconstruction of their mother’s illustration reminiscent of their father’s study of mushrooms .
Lincoln Center’s David Koch Theater hosted Tom Ford’s display case that subverts the button-up appearance of the evening uniform. As the closing Fashion Week show, Ford put an exclamation mark on the in-person return of the event whose themes unified around transformative ideas and perspectives. At the right time, the designer unveiled a series of elevated athleisure looks in acid greens, neon pinks and shimmering blues worthy of leaving your home. The dizzying display of satin and sequin clothing has played into the idea of ââstatement clothing in a post-pandemic world increasingly run by social media.