Within the first snowstorm of 2017, New York Fashion Week kicked off its presentations unperturbed by the inclement conditions. A look towards the future and celebration of the upcoming seasons, the fall fashion sat well on a cold February day. Deep colors and sumptuous, textural fabrics shone through a number of collections. The upcoming style of the modern woman felt defiant, strong and ready for anything.
Amidst a range of color and style for a great range of women, it was the tactile qualities, inventive textural combinations and fabric of the clothes that were most prominent throughout the week. As styles shift and trends across hundreds of shows become less obvious to pin down, the individual quality of each item shone through. The Fall / Winter season necessarily calls for more fabric, bulk and layering, but this season, particular attention was afforded to the tactile, material quality of the clothing.
The key to creating something fresh, innovative, and fashion forward lays in the combination of textures. Warm, tactile fabrics in winter are a given, but a thin trim of fur on the delicate silky dresses at Katie Gallagher, or a wool sweater over an embellished ballgown at Jenny Packham, is especially enticing and fresh. Others utilized fringe as a key embellishment, which adds an edginess and retro sensibility to elegant formalwear. No combination was off limits; leather, lace and fringe featured within the same collections. Velvet continues to feature as a sumptuous, stylish fabric for day and evening wear and was utilized in both accents and entire ensembles.
Single color blocking and monochrome dictated much of the season’s collections and played a major role in crafting the coming winter’s mood. Many designers displayed deep, autumnal jewel tones, like at Julianna Bass, or more striking combinations like the black and bold orange that dominated at Katie Gallagher. PH5 showed a range of colors that drew inspiration from both childlike and technological influences, and Desigual offered a youthful romp of color exemplified by bright, window-pane tights paired with every look that clashed artfully with lively patterns.
Others went against the traditional mood of the winter season with a flurry of pastels. At Lan Yu, lace details were presented in mint and soft pink. Metallics were another unexpected key element of many collections worked into embellishment, leather, and accessories but the most definitive use of shining gold and silver had to be the footwear at Nicholas K, which included knee-high and ankle boots. The outfit pairings made stiff, shiny metallic shoes seem feasible with any look.
When patterned fabrics were featured on the runway, geometric and plaid styles were the most successful incarnation. At Vivienne Hu, pops of vivid red, beige, and stark white were mixed into the decidedly non-uniform stripes and plaid that kept very traditional shapes fresh and fun. At the Brock collection, it was red gingham that was paired with thick winter wools in shoes, dresses and pants. Tadashi Shoji went further still with luxurious, tapestry-like embroidery in many of his pieces. The decadence and historical reference added even greater richness amongst velvets and jewel tones.
With rich fabrics, detailed embellishment and prominent colors, the cuts and style of many of the collections kept it loose and simple: a canvas for the the dynamic fabrics to take center stage. Nonetheless, the garments were most often classy, wearable and fresh. An emphasis on inventive sleeves and necklines continues from SS17 with 19th century style puff sleeves and slim silhouettes accentuated against wide bell sleeves on dresses and sweaters. For others, accessories were focused at the neck as ties, scarves and fur stoles were wound around at Dan Lui and Lan Yu.
Outerwear was draped over the shoulders or hanging languidly from two straps like a backpack. At Laurence and Chico, many definitive seasonal trends were unified in sumptuous, velvet oversized down coats — impractical, perhaps, but still divine. There was no shortage of aspirational business-wear, with a host of ladylike, sophisticated trousers in wool, silk and even suede present overall. Polished, bell-cut pants were offet with daring sheer blouses. At Noon by Noor, wool suits and suede skirts were the strongest pieces and skirts gathered at a drop waist update the enduring midi skirt.
As with any fashion week, in many instances the show itself was an opportunity for great innovation, creativity and excitement in creating ambiance. Many designers saw this as the chance to create fully immersive, multimedia spectacles. Malan Breton opened with an elegant swing dance routine and closed with an ominous, synchronized march of models in head-to-toe black. The contrast offered interpretations of eras past and the not-too-distant future. Walking into Hayley Elsaesser’s Déjà Moon presentation was like walking into a different world. Neon colors, sparkling glitter, and loud music set the tone for the eccentric My Little Pony collaboration. Models of all shapes, sizes, and sexes signified diversity in the outlandish collection, though Elsaesser was not alone — many collections showcased a celebration of diverse and enduringly beautiful models, exemplifying that fashion is for anyone and everyone.
The creativity, experimentation and spirit of innovation long associated with New York Fashion Week remains a strong force in the fashion calendar. The shows offered a positive, uplifting and beautiful contribution to the arts, our daily wardrobe and our world — something we could always use more of in 2017.
Feature image: Francesca Liberatore.