One season more, fashion starts all over again, with New York as the welcoming city for the hectic weeks that are about to come. The Big Apple is a tricky city for fashion. Last season, we left feeling happy with fresh debuts, crazy concepts, and fun collections, but on this one, we felt a veil of doubt over it.
A brand as interesting and unique as Puppets and Puppets announced the show of this season to be the last one in New York, saying goodbye to the calendar and heading to London with the purpose of focusing more on the successful accessories line than the clothes, a survival strategy. It makes you wonder what we’ve already asked ourselves many times before: how friendly is the fashion system to its creatives? Is there a chance for the brands outside the big industry machinery? This is our selection of collections that, for us, keep the flame of hope alive.
Thom Browne
New York fashion king, of Thom we can always expect a show and a concept. No matter the season or how fragile or ambiguous the state of the industry is, we can always count on him to make us feel like everything will be alright and that there is still spark and joy in this consistently dark world. With a scenography as impressive as always, the snow filled the space just as much as it did in the real streets of the city, and a tall tree/man watched over the runway protected with a long – very, very long – puffer jacket. From the tree, some kids emerge in a very eerie way, and the first look graces the runway to the rythm of an equally eerie melody.
The impressive coat suggests an elaborate process of making it, and that was the reality, being made of shredded tuxedos: strips of black mohair and silk, canvas, lining, grosgrain, and labels. The interior pieces with a trompe l'oeil effect also catch attention, but not more than the giant raven that rests on the top hat. Given the affinity of Browne with the animal kingdom, it may come as surprising but not excessively, although it was the first piece that revealed what was behind this collection. When the second look appeared, everything was clear: this was about The Raven, that influential tale by Edgar Allan Poe, confirmed later by the narration of it during the show. The figure of this bird landed in coats, blazers, and stockings.
Aside from the iconography, the whole vibe and aura of the collection exuded the particular type of mystery and spookyness that Poe stories do. Predominantly black and white, the different games of layering created a strong emphasis on the silhouettes and the contrast between light and shadow. When the pieces are mostly monochromatic, it is known that the path to go is exploration of textures and fabrics. Wool flannel, velvet intarsia, silk moiré, shredded denim tweed, leather—Browne knows how to work with everything. Colourful collections are great, but seeing the consistency of quality in entirely black and white looks is always very pleasing to the eye. The only different one, the last look, the golden bug, possibly makes reference to another Poe story of the same name, maybe hinting at another Browne tale yet to come.
Helmut Lang
Protection vs. Projection. Peter Do’s work always feels intimate, either under his own brand or with Helmut Lang. There’s an underlying sensibility that reaches out in some unspoken way to the audience. In the text released prior to the show, Do ponders about the meaning of an armour in a conceptual way and the way we understand it, either as a protection against the world or as a form of understanding it (the world) and making peace with the fact that we are a part of it and that we are just victims of our own actions. By doing so, elements and details that allude to this shield idea are incorporated in a subtle way into the garments. Contrary to the idea, this is not something that should be a harsh cover that hides whats inside it, but its delicate transformations that are more integrated with the piece than superposed to them.
Zippers and seams are elements that allow a closure and an aperture when the situation requires it, and here they are used in a way very reminiscent of what Do has always done: knitwear, tailored, and fluid garments that become utilitarian adornments in predominantly minimalist pieces. The most literal reference to what protection could mean happens to be a straight-up reference to Helmut Lang work, being the bubble wrap-looking fabric made of silk in the first and a couple of looks more, an idea that Lang portrayed in the Spring 1999 collection that suits perfectly in this collection, turning the body into a fragile and careful to carry around object. Aside from the materials that drive between full transparency and full coverage, the silhouettes and patterns also contribute to the general idea. High necks, some covering even the ears, balaclavas, and big hoods. Lang’s future projection is on a good path.
Once in our top collections, and it seems like it’s going to be a forever thing because what Raul Lopez is doing for New York Fashion Week continues to impress. If you're not sure, then you can kindly ask Beyoncé, sitting on the first row in a very rare sight of the queen. A brand’s customers say everything there is to know about them, and this speaks volumes. He has mastered the art of having an identifiable aesthetic while presenting something different each time, both in concept and in form, even if the big shoulders and cinched waists are present all the time. With Deceptionista, he opens another chapter about himself, this one reflecting on the evolution and somehow constant return of a particular concept following the cycles of fashion. Metrosexuality for Lopez is more than what the word suggests, and it is intimately attached to the sense of identity he built up for years in the process of accepting himself and the way society could perceive him as he really was.
Every generation has had its own type of metrosexual. This refers to the man who is meticulous and very careful of his personal style and appearance. Raul explains how often, growing up, it was easier to say he was metrosexual than homosexual, as the first one is commonly linked to straights without putting much more thought into it. This kind of deceiving connotation attached to metrosexuality is portrayed throughout the looks in the form of dramatic silhouettes that accentuate the body in a very extravagant yet elegant way, with the shoulders being wider and higher than ever and the transparencies playing an important role in revealing the body in a delicate-macho sort of way. The heavy materials and solid colours contribute to this strong and assertive appearance, as do the fur textures, which elevate the looks to a luxurious and unreachable status.
Anna Sui
It seems like we could perfectly describe the tone and put the sort of vibe each show had in context by mentioning at least one notable attendee. Sofia Coppola was present here; if you get it, you get it. Anna Sui makes collections that feel and look rich, full of information, references, colours, and textures. It's always nice to find consistent shows where there's never a dull moment and the message is present as strongly in the first look as in the last. This time the inspiration for Anna came from the English countryside and the art of many that are linked in some sort of way to it. Agatha Christie was the main reference, specifically her character Miss Marple, who would have loved to get to wear everything Sui presented. Tweed jackets, crochet collars, argyle socks, and fetching fair isles caps in three major blocks of colour that ranged from earthy shades to cold ones.
The book covers from Virginia Wolf were also on the moodboard, especially as a chromatic reference as well as for patterns and prints. The artwork of Aubrey Beardsley graced the garments and accessories in a very art nouveau fashion. The general concept was translated very intelligently into the actual looks, and in an era where the particular aesthetics referred to as something-core are all over the web, this collection will thrive. After a bit of research, it seems like this collection fits the academia-core realm, if anyone was curious as to what the general terminology for this vibe is. Sometimes this compromise to a certain style and making use of every detail that is vital to it can lead to the final product looking more like a costume than a functional and wearable outfit, but with the taste and expertise of Anna, the result is a clean, vintage-looking collection that speaks the same language we speak in the modern day.
Tanner Fletcher
The vintage agenda keeps spreading with Tanner Fletcher’s Estate Sale. This collection was made with the whole purpose of recreating that thrilling feeling you get when you find a hidden treasure at your local vintage shop—a sensation we can all understand. It feels as if luck and destiny were in your favour. This piece was waiting for me; I found it, but it feels as if it found me. This translates into a collection full of pieces that work as well as part of a full look as they do on their own—the type of range clothes not made in this century have. The details are the most valuable part of garments from the past—a little ruffle here, a nice bow there, some jewellery-like pieces all over a jacket—the beauty is in the little things, and Tanner Fletcher gets it completely.
As coquette-coded this collection may look, it is necessary to say that Tanner Fletcher has been working with the specific codes that make up this aesthetic for a long time. They were first, and if you were first, you were not the follower but the followed. What's nice about this collection is the integration of these codes into basic pieces of clothing: jeans, pinstripe suits, white dresses and blouses, classic flower motifs, tartan, knitwear, padded jackets, etc. All of this is proven to survive the test of time, and that guarantees how useful the garments will be and how long their useful life will last. The complements play a definitive part in giving the look more character; the rigid briefcases paired with cute stilettos or sunglasses on an otherwise very romantic look make the wearer's personality shine as much as the clothes they have on.
Willy Chavarria
In a full-circle moment that coincided with Helmut’s development of the concept of protection, our last favourite collection was also about that. For this season, Willy Chavarria worked with a mindset we can all relate to. Seeing the state of the world right now, sometimes it is difficult, or it even feels wrong, to focus on matters such as fashion or aesthetics that at first feel vain compared to the complex issues going on. Safe from Harm is the name of the collection and the short film presented before it, as a contextual prologue to what was yet to come. An intimate piece situated in a narrow apartement where the characters, played by stars themselves such as Mahmood or Paloma Elsesser, portray everything from love to hate, fights, dances, religion, and exercise, it felt like a short summary of what the human experience is.
The collection featured recurrent topics in Willy’s universe, like the Mexican influences, especially the Chicano culture and aesthetic, but this time also blending and coexisting with country references and the Catholic imaginary. This merge of concepts resulted in a strong collection where every single look had something going on from them. The impeccable tailoring with the big and angular shoulders paired with flowy pants and the collar of flannel shirts peeping over the lapel plus a cowboy hat feels like a signature Chavarria look, but also the strong and heavy knits, the contrast between sportwear pieces and fabrics with more formal and conservative ones, in this context such as lace, whose meaning was given by the Catholic jewelry. The gigantic flower that adorned the last suit is so big that it feels almost like a shield more than an accessory; maybe Willy's finding protection is something as beautiful as a flower.