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The pressure was on for New York Fashion Week the past few days, as it was the first to introduce the new hybrid format of digital and physical presentations, ahead of London, Milan and Paris.
Designers showcased their spring/summer 2021 collections to a much smaller, socially distanced audience if they had a runway show, though plenty more could discover from the safety of their own home. Here’s a little showcase of what NYFW during a pandemic looked like.
The Black in Fashion council showcased black designers
The Black in Fashion Council showcased black designers in its showroom, including Kenneth Nicholson, Theophilio, and Undra Celeste. It also held a town hall and conversations touching on racial equity and inclusion during the week’s shows and events.
Jason Wu opened NYFW with a socially distanced show
Jason Wu kicked things off by showcasing what a catwalk show during a global pandemic looked like. He took over the rooftop of Spring Studios in Manhattan and turned it into a tropical destination and transformed it into a tropical paradise. The crowd of just 30 sat in spaced out chairs along the runway. The Tulum-inspired collection featured bright colours, relaxed silhouettes and bold prints.
Khaite shifted perspectives
Khaite’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection debuted in a short film, and turned a time of doom into one of hope, trauma and rebirth, intolerance and endurance. There were sculpted textures illuminated and then plunged into shadow, monochrome designs punctured by flashes of warmth and skin. Feminine polka dot dresses and puff sleeve gowns mixed with structured and leather leather pieces for a poetic effect.
Tom Ford got real
In an honest letter accompanying his digital lookbook, the designer said, ‘I thought about skipping the season altogether. After all when no one can go out of their house, who needs new clothes?’ In the end, he created a spring/summer collection to put a smile on your face, with fun designs inspired by a a documentary he watched in lockdown on fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez, but also by his women friends.
Rodarte, Veronica Beard and Zimmermann paid tribute to nature
Rodarte, Veronica Beard and Zimmermann all followed a digital format this season, but very much took inspiration from the great outdoors for their lustworthy collections, inspired by and shot in nature.
Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte managed to deliver a collection that’s as dreamy as ever, whilst acknowledging the Rodarte woman’s need for something a little more comforting and comfortable this season. Think pastel printed pyjamas, floral loungewear and printed sweatshirts, mixed in with lace dresses, Peter Pan collars and of course, those signature floral headpieces. The dream.
For their 10th anniversary collection, co-founders Veronica Swanson-Beard & Veronica Miele-Beard took inspiration ‘from looking inwards and from finding peace and freedom outdoors’ and translated into floral sundresses, and earthy colour palette and some smart tailoring.
Turning to the unique flora and fauna of her home country, creative director Nicky Zimmermann designed her Wild Botanica collection as an expression of the colours, textures and beauty that moved her with a modern, renegade impulse running through the collection. She said, ‘we
often start a collection with a focus on print and this season I wanted to work with botanical art with an Australian focus – the unique floral shapes and the unexpected colour combinations. We thought about buoyant and diaphanous looks, balanced against crisp, masculine tailoring.’
Theory reflected on change
Theory’s new collection focused on ‘renewal and reinvention’. Known for its elevated workwear, the label blurred the boundaries between the office and home, public and private life. Its signature tailoring was rendered in knit to enhance comfort while still being sophisticated, while dresses and trousers took on more relaxed silhouettes.
Statement masks were everywhere
We can’t talk about fashion during a pandemic without talking about face coverings, and of that there were plenty, whether within collections themselves, or worn by the few editors, buyers and influencers on the streets on their way to physical events.
Designers such as alice + olivia and Rebecca Minkoff created designs that perfectly matched gowns from their collection, and we can see these become a staple come party season, even if it is just at home.