Our Top 8 Shows From New York Fashion Week
Last week, as is always the case, New York opened the official fashion month. Even though there are now off season shows and fashion weeks across the world, such as CPHFW, the big four (New York, London, Milan, Paris) remain the most prevalent. In total there were 150 official shows, presentations, showrooms and digital releases. Styles, aesthetics, target customers all varied but there was one common thread through all of the most exciting shows – personal stories.
Several reports mentioned designers being wary of pushing the boat out and taking risks due to commerciality being at the forefront of their minds. However, pieces birthed out of personal experience give you permission to create freely, as you focus only on communicating what you have to say. In essence the girls that get it will get it, and that’s why these designers that took the risks were our favourite eight shows of NYFW.
Raúl Lopez’s highly anticipated show closed NYFW and he was feeling the pressure. Revered in the industry for his work long before deciding to go it alone in 2011, Lopez is far from a newbie. New York born and bred, he consistently gently guides us into his world of pre-gentrified New York, his Dominican heritage and his heart. This collection is no different. Inspired by the working women he grew up around, re-interpretted 80s suits were a consistent theme in the collection. He spoke about the idea of heirlooms for him being clothes and bags, ranging from furs to just your older cousin’s favourite sports wear.
Talking about the aforementioned fur, Lopez used real fur in this collection. Whether you love it or hate it, the “hand me downs” or heirlooms from the previous generation were real fur. He sees his creation of garments as a form of generational wealth. Not just in the physical, but the mental state too – inspiring people that look like him to go after their dreams.
It is this dedication to authentically tell his story, potential controversy be damned, that makes his show one of the best.
AW23 was Thom Browne’s first show after being appointed as CFDA chairman and winning a trademark case against Adidas. This meant that more eyes than ever were on Browne. As always, the shorts-loving designer excelled again. Browne consistently ignores convention in the best way. His 35 minute, 64 look show (most shows are 10 minutes) featured a variety of beautifully peculiar silhouettes and colour combinations. We saw beyond oversized shoulder pad suits, blazers sewn as belts and head pieces reminiscent of spun sugar.
Even with all of this rule bending, the show didn’t feel alienating. It felt familiar and somewhat comforting, as expecting the unexpected is what you do with a Browne offering. We were guided through the story of the 1943 French novella The Little Prince, a story analysing life and human nature. In the original 1943 French novella, the story has an open but decidedly melancholy ending. The pilot, after being stranded in the Sahara (represented by Browne with the set’s crashed plane), is forced to return without knowing what became of the “golden haired boy”. Browne gave us a happy ending instead, with Precious Lee closing the show in an ethereal angel like look, signifying the Prince’s peaceful end.
It was lovely to escape to a world filled with love, happy endings, genderless clothing and spun sugar hats. The cherry on top: Browne surprising his husband, Met Museum curator Andrew Bolton, with a heart-shaped box of chocolates, because what is a fantasy world without your prince charming.
Area brought fun back to fashion week. When fashion is focused on statistics and numbers and data, we skip past the why nots, because we’re too busy asking why. A lot of NYFW and 2023 fashion in general is missing storytelling, controversiality and fun. Area was fun all over, from the banana invites, to the set, to the actual pieces.
Fashion is notoriously fickle. Models in particular are often cast away once they are deemed too old, too big, too outspoken. Panszczyk (Area co-founder) refuted this, choosing a wide variety of models. “Aging also comes with beauty,” was his message to the world. The use of fruits to represent the beauty in every stage of life and mortality was presented in a thought provoking way and yet the pieces were still beautiful.
Oftentimes, conversational shows can err on the side of costume, while fashion at its best is art, it still needs to be wearable. Area toed this line, making commercially viable pieces without making them hollow or gimicky.
Smith has relatively quickly become a cult favourite amongst the hot girls of the world. The women who are naturally the centre of attention and love it. The woman that you feel her presence before you see her. If you love your body and love showing it, Laquan Smith is the brand for you.
In previous seasons there were some concerns about quality of tailoring and attention to detail. This season and last season however, it was clear that Smith turned it up a notch, with an increased focus on craftsmanship. Smith presented sharp tailoring in plain fabric so there was nowhere to hide poor tailoring, and he had no reason to, with every piece showing how far he has come.
It’s hard to put into words the energy that Smith puts into his pieces. It’s tangible and undeniable and yet impossible to describe with mere words. In short he’s just getting started, and only getting better.
Known for their out-there bridal pieces, Wiederhoeft showed their interpretation of dialled-back, casual ready-to-wear pieces this season. However, Wiederhoeft is a major theatre and performance enthusiast, so the collection was far from subtle or reserved.
Costume design is an art in itself – pieces are inherently made to tell a story, made to be moved in and seen from all angles and distances. In an era where clothing is mostly made for one dimensional social media pictures, Wiederhoeft is a breath of fresh air.
There was a play with juxtaposition – we saw light and ethereal fabrics in one look and heavy, loud textures in the next. Each look was designed to tell an individual fantastical story; transporting the wearer and onlookers alike into another world.
As always I was left feeling thankful for fantasy and thankful for Wiederhoeft.
“Female empowerment” can sometimes become gimicky or hollow, especially in fashion. With Khaite however, there was no sense of trying too hard or overcompensating. The power just was. The type of power that is inherent, the power that you’re entitled to, the power you possess almost coincidentally.
This interpretation of power, produced a variety of looks that to be frank, had nothing in common except this innate feeling. We were presented with a wide range, from green furry trousers and to dialled back all black looks. Yet, all made you sit up, take a deep breath and prepare to take on what the world throws at you today.
Anna Sui took us on her journey of exploring history and the loss of the go to spot. The place you’d get dressed up and go to every weekend with the girls and be guaranteed a good time. After stumbling across an old photo of a friend dancing in Chanel couture at The Peppermint Lounge in the 1960s, Sui took a deep dive researching into the club.
She wanted to express and explore a time before phones and dressing for a camera and instead dressing for each other. Going out to dance and have fun without worrying about who will see you, take videos and post without your consent or knowledge on TikTok. The time of truly living in the moment because the right now was only for right now.
This was interpreted in bunny hats as it is the year of the rabbit (a nod to her Chinese heritage), silk chemises that just begged to be danced in and 60s style shift dresses reminiscent of the pieces she saw when researching. Like many designers, Sui reflected during Covid lockdowns, asking herself at this stage in her career what else she had to say. This caused her to move away from fantasy into reality, and then go on to create this beautiful combination of both that we got at NYFW FW23
Siriano is one of the few shows that manages to maintain the balance between the traditions of shows that we hold dear, and the modernisation that the industry needs. While he shows several looks in the same fabric, recurring motifs and a standout finale look, he also has size diversity, fantastical set design and the latest stars in his FROW.
Sometimes commerciality of fashion is seen to be at odds with the design and art side of fashion, however Siriano shows that this doesn’t have to be the case. He’s very aware that evening wear is by far and consistently his best selling pieces, so a collection of evening wear is what he presented. However, design acumen, tailoring and thoughtfulness was still present.
A cohesive yet exciting 56 look show is no small feat and while he does this consistently, Siriano should still not be taken for granted.
Which was your fave? Tweet us and let us know @guapmag
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