University of Fashion Blog

Posts by: Antonia Sardone

Antonia Sardone

Antonia Sardone is a new contributor to the University of Fashion. She is also a freelance fashion consultant, stylist and writer. Antonia Sardone graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Advertising Communications, Marketing and Fashion Journalism. She is an industry veteran having worked for WWD for over fifteen years and has strong relationships with designers worldwide. Today, Antonia Sardone continues to write reviews for WWD as well as work with many contemporary designers on a variety of projects from helping to re-launch their websites to writing their brand books. She enjoys raising her children to be creative individuals, as well as styling, writing and traveling.

BREAKING TRADITION: BRIDAL SPRING 2022

- - Fashion Shows

Naeem Khan’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Naeem Khan)

Oh, how I miss attending New York Bridal Fashion Week. The atmosphere was always full of joy and excitement and the presentations were always beautifully executed. While COVID-19 has dramatically changed everyone’s lives, the U.S. is vaccinating its citizens as quickly as possible and hopefully other countries will be able to do so rapidly as well, maybe then we can get back to a “new normal”.

New York Bridal Fashion Week shows twice a year, April and October. Traditionally, the industry event is when bridal brands showcase their latest collections to retailers and the press. Events traditionally range from small intimate appointments and presentations to over-the-top runway extravaganzas. But today, thanks to the pandemic and the virtual nature of fashion shows, we ALL get to have front-row access to the latest bridal collections.

This season, New York Bridal Fashion Week took place from April 6-8, 2021. Established bridal designers like Monique Lhullier, Marchesa, Amsale, and Anne Barge all presented beautiful collections, alongside smaller, indie brands, during a packed three-day virtual affair. The season was coordinated by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), the sole owner and organizer of Fashion Week schedule in collaboration with The Bridal Council.

In a statement to Brides Magazine, Michele Iacovelli, the executive director of The Bridal Council, advised that anyone could watch this year’s collections through The Bridal Council’s website and access the full bridal show schedule, designer videos, and their look books. This is truly exciting news for brides-to-be who are  interested in getting an exclusive look into these coveted events. In addition, for the first time ever, everyone and anyone could access pre-recorded films and video look books via RUNWAY360 on the CFDA’s website.Talk  about transparency!

Leigh King, CFDA’s associate director of special projects and experiences, told Brides Magazine, “As for a return to in-person, we are optimistic for a mix of in-person and virtual presentations in the fall.”

While this bridal season was filled with classic, traditional gowns, fairytale feminism and plenty of sexy numbers – there was also a plethora of fashion-forward looks for the bride who wants to stand out on her wedding day. Here are some of the strongest ‘non-traditional’ trends of the season:

FINE PRINTS

Who says you have to wear white on your wedding day? For Spring 2022, designers are offering whimsical gowns in an assortment of colorful prints and embroideries, such as those from Naeem Khan’s collection of pastel floral confections and Amelia Casablanca’s bright roses. And, did you know that luxury footwear pioneer, Jimmy Choo at age 72, opened the doors of his own JCA | London Fashion Academy in Mayfair in 202o. Hence the addition of the word ‘professor’ to his bridal collection’s company name: The Atelier Couture Prof. Jimmy Choo, OBE Bridal Collection. For those who wonder what OBE means – OBE refers to an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

 

Here’s to making a vibrant splash on your big day!

A look from The Atelier Couture Prof. Jimmy Choo, OBE Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: The Atelier Couture by Prof. Jimmy Choo, OBE)

 

Naeem Khan’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Naeem Khan)

 

Amelia Casablanca’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Amelia Casablanca)

SHORT AND SWEET

Bye-Bye ballgowns and say hello to the bridal mini dress. This season designers are offering perfect little bridal dresses from Sareh Nouri’s textured strapless frock to Gracy Accad’s chic off-the-shoulder number. Have fun dancing the night away – sexy style.

Sareh Nouri’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Sareh Nouri)

Francesca Miranda’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Francesca Miranda)

 

Gracy Accad’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Gracy Accad)

 

Edem’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Edem)

IN A SLIP OF A MOMENT

The slip dress was a huge trend in ready-to-wear and has now trickled down to the bridal market. For Spring 2022, the 90’s showed up in these chic bridal alternatives.

Savannah Miller’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Savannah Miller)

 

Markarian’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Markarian)

 

Morilee Madeline Gardner’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Morilee Madeline Gardner)

 

Rita Vinieris’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Rita Vinieries)

THE COLD SHOULDER

While broad shoulders played a big role in ready-to-wear this season, with lots of puffy sleeves and shoulder-padded jackets all the rage, for bridal, the focus was on ‘off-the-shoulder’, adding just the right amount of sexiness but in a demure way. From Lihi Hod’s romantic interpretation to Anne Barge’s elegant version, these glamourous gowns will surely have all eyes on the bride.

Anne Barge’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Anne Barge)

Eisen-Stein’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Eisen-Stein)

 

Kelly Faetanini Redux Collection’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Kelly Faetanini Redux)

 

Lihi Hod’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Lihi Hod)

3D & HANDCRAFTY

Bridal collections are predictably full of rich embroideries and intricate beadwork, but for spring 2022, designers are taking these traditional techniques a step further with 3D appliqués that create texture and drama.

Rita Vinieris Rivini’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Rita Vinieris)

 

Mira Zwilinger’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Mira Zwilinger)

 

Eisen-Stein’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Eisen-Stein)

LINGERIE-INSPIRED

A bridal corset worn on the outside of a bridal dress? Yes, and in a major way! This season, several designers made a bold statement between their lingerie-inspired gowns and now the corset dress. The results are the perfect combination of sensual yet sophisticated.

Wiederhoeft’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Wiederhoeft)

 

Dana Harel Silver Lining’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Dana Harel Silver Lining)

 

Rita Vinieris Rivini’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Rita Vinieris)

 

Justin Alexander Signature’s Spring 2022 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Justine Alexander)

 

With so many brides having to postpone their wedding due to Covid, this bridal season offers lots of inspiration and choices to the make that ‘special day’ all the more special.

So tell us, what was your favorite bridal trend this season?

EMBRACING GENDERLESS FASHION

Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele help celebrities embrace the gender-neutral trend. (Photo Credit: GQ)

Trends come and go, but we believe that the androgynous trend is here to stay, at least for now. As a fashion movement, genderless dressing is gradually making its way into mainstream culture as the trend is hitting the major fashion capitals of the world. Thanks to many young celebrities and fashion designers, people of all genders are breaking convention with what they choose to wear. 0

UoF was the first to offer a lesson in androgynous fashion illustration in 2017 and it’s been one of our most popular lessons for the past four years.

Acceptance, inclusivity and an openness to change are fashion’s gift to 2021. This year is predicted to be all about reinvention and the gender-fluid movement. Think recording artist, Harry Styles, the poster child for androgyny. His gender-bending looks have been puzzling his fans for the past few years. The movement is now picking up  steam with many non-gender collections being launched by established brands such as Marc Jacobs and Gucci.

 

Harry Styles (Photo Credit: theguardian.com)

Although one could argue that celebrity androgyny can be traced as far back as the ‘30s with Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn, and in the ‘70s with Dianne Keaton and David Bowie, today’s celebs like Harry Styles, Tilda Swinton and Jared Leto are really pushing the envelope. In fact, some celebrity stylists are moving their clients away from a masculine-feminine divide to more ‘inclusive’ dressing choices. After all, inclusivity is the new buzzword.

Marlene Dietrich, genuinely loved wearing trouser suits, and said she felt more alluring in traditionally masculine clothes. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Katharine Hepburn epitomized the independent American woman, and she was one of the first to popularize pants. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Actor and singer Jared Leto’s style has grown more and more daring. Leto has claimed that there is no singular definition of masculinity. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

While the majority of retailers, brands and designers have reacted slowly to the movement, many are starting to come around. The cashmere knit collection Inhabit launched its first genderless collection in the fall of 2020, Norma Kamali reformed her storied brand to a unisex label in 2019, Umit Benan launched unisex line B+ and Equipment launched a gender-neutral collection in 2020.

There are also a number of brands who are strictly genderless labels such as Telfar, Aries, Les Tien, Gypsy Sport and Charles Jeffrey Loverboy. In 2018, Stefano Pilati introduced a fluid men’s wear label Random Identities. Even global giant retailers like H&M and Zara have incorporated genderless collections in their stores.

According to Rob Smith, the founder of Phluid Project (which launched in March of 2018 in NYC and online for access worldwide as a gender-free fashion brand), “Consumers are ready for genderless fashion, especially Gen Z consumers”  Smith said, at a WWD Culture Conference in November 2020, “that 56 percent of Generation Z consumers shop outside their assigned gendered area.”

For merchants to adapt to gender-neutral fashions, retailers must re-evaluate their merchandising strategies, designers must reexamine what a genderless collection actually is, and the industry must learn the language and terminology.

During the WWD Cultural Conference Smith used a character called the “Gender Unicorn” to demonstrate the proper way to address gender and sexuality. According to WWD, Smith spoke of five things related to identity, including the sex one is assigned at birth, gender identity, gender expression, who one is intimately attracted to and then who one is emotionally attracted to.

According to Smith, the parts that are pertain to fashion are gender identity and gender expression. To begin, a person can be assigned one of three sexes at birth: male, female, or intersex. Then comes gender identity, which is what one identifies themselves as and gender expression, which is how one dresses to express themselves. Smith started his speech identifying himself as a “cis man,” meaning he was assigned male at birth and identifies as male.

Smith explained at the conference that when he was young, sexuality and expression were lumped together, “but now it’s all about separating your sexual orientation with your gender identity.”

In an interview with WWD, Christina Zervanos, head of public relations at Phluid Project, said the non-binary consumer “combats the word unisex, because it has the word sex in it. For a lot of people, it speaks to sexuality when it’s about how you identify yourself.”

“Gen Z is begging for the non-binary language,” Zervanos said. “It takes a lot of learning and unlearning.” According to Pew Research Center, 35 percent of Gen Z is familiar with gender-neutral pronouns, followed by Millennials at 25 percent. Throw in Gen X at 16 percent and the total number of people familiar with gender-neutral pronouns reaches 76 percent.

Smith also said at the conference, “If I was going to represent a young community, especially a gender-expansive young community, I need to learn the language.”

Many brands are implementing the language, refer to their gender-neutral collections as genderless, like Official Rebrand, the genderless label from non-binary designer and creative MI Leggett. They coined the term “gender-free.”

“Gender is not a fixed thing,” said Leggett in an interview with WWD, whose pronouns are they/them. “I’d never heard people use the term gender-free when I started the brand. It’s kind of a play on gluten-free. If you don’t tolerate gluten, you don’t have to consume it, so I thought it was a funny play. A lot of people use gender-neutral. That feels a little stale to me. Free implies more freedom. Agender, genderless, there’s so many ways to describe your ideology as a brand. It all depends on what you actually mean. So to me it’s gender-free.”

Fashion companies are falling into the trap of creating looks and calling them “genderless” even though a piece may lean more toward men’s wear or women’s wear. Typically, genderless clothes are either oversize, formless, and shapeless. For years women have worn men’s wear as well as men’s inspired looks that today, it became mainstream.

Kanye West in a Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci leather kilt for his “Watch the Throne” tour. (Photo Credit: The Telegraph)

Unfortunately, men embracing woman’s garments did not translate as easily. In 2010, Kanye West wore a Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci leather kilt for his “Watch the Throne” tour, unfortunately his fashion choice received mixed reviews. In 2016, Louis Vuitton cast Jaden Smith (Actor Will Smith’s son) for its woman’s spring campaign, this was the first time the luxury house had a male modeling in their woman’s advertisements. There were many mixed reactions as celebrity men started wearing more fluid fashion choices. But Harry Styles changed the conception in 2019 when the singer wore a sheer Gucci blouse to the Met Gala and genderless fashion quickly started to move into the cultural mainstream.

Harry Styles cemented himself as a fashion icon in 2019, in his frilled Gucci shirt and pearl earrings at the Met Gala. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Toda, the category of genderless fashion is growing. One of the first designers to launch a unisex, gender-neutral brand is Rad Hourani in 2007. The designer created his label after he held an art exhibit for neutral clothes, which he described in an interview with WWD as “a tornado success where I started selling to department stores around the world.” Hourani noticed after moving to Paris at age 23 that all things were categorized according to “race, gender, age,” including fashion.

Rad Hourani surrounded by models in his looks. (Photo Credit: Elle Canada)

“When I speak of neutrality, I speak of any gender or non-gender,” he said. “Unisex is free of any gender categorization or limitation. Clothing is a discipline in which I can express myself and my vision around neutrality in general. Expressing gender neutrality is a big part of what I do. There have been unisex pieces like sneakers, jeans, T-shirts, but to create a full high-end collection for 13 years now, I needed to create my own base and sizes.”

“In the past two years, [genderless fashion] became a bigger subject, but what I notice the most is they use designs that are loose-fitting, but I think it’s a much deeper look at unisex morphology. There’s nothing new about making a woman masculine or a man feminine. That’s not unisex, that’s making one the other,” Hourani said. “For androgynous, you can’t tell, but it’s not unisex. Unisex is free of any gender categorization or limitation.”

He also sees genderless fashion as less restrictive than gendered fashion. “If you only give a man a dress, you’re only limiting him to a dress. But if you give a human a neutral garment, they will wear it any way they want.”

POPULAR GENDER-FLUID DESIGNERS

Gender-neutral looks from Entireworld. (Photo Credit: Entireworld)

Entireworld offers all of the basics you need to build a solid gender-neutral wardrobe.

Bode’s unisex one of a kind reworked quilt pastel jacket. (Photo Credit: Bode)

Emily Bode utilizes vintage textiles to create one of a kind jackets and shirts you’ll want to keep forever.

A look from Telfar. (Photo Credit: @slamjammilano)

The Telfar shopping bag has created so much buzz, but Telfar Clemens doesn’t only create sought after accessories, he also has some great fashion pieces too.

A look from Wales Bonner. (Photo Credit: Wales Bonner)

Grace Wales Bonner is the designer behind the gender neural label Wales Bonner. The brand is known for its impeccably tailored blazers and trousers, all with an unexpected sartorial edge. Wales Bonner also teamed up with Adidas for a limited collab, offering up a range of sporty spice looks.

A look from Wildfang. (Photo Credit: Wildfang)

Two Nike executives created the label Wildfang which offers a range of workwear, suits, tees, and more, all of which offer the pared-down, structured look that’s often found in the men’s department.

 

SO TELL US, WILL YOU EMBRACE THE GENDER-FLUID TREND?

CELEBRATING WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH-IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS BY FEMALE DESIGNERS THROUGHOUT HISTORY

Coco Chanel with model friends during her show in 1959. (Photo Credit: Willy Rizzo)

Women in every industry have been chipping away at the glass ceiling for decades. Do you know who was the first female prime minister? Answer: Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka in 1960. She was followed by a series of other competent women who held high office, such as Indira Gandhi (India-1966) and a slew of other women who you would have never known about unless you googled Women Prime Ministers many of whom are from Asia Pacific countries. Therefore it is quite astonishing that it took decades for the U.S. to elect its first female to hold high office with the election of V.P. Kamala Harris. Perhaps her being a part of the AAPI community is prescient? In any case, finally…the glass ceiling in the U.S. has been broken, proving once again that girls really can run the world!

As we celebrate Woman’s History Month, and because you know how much we love history…UoF is celebrating the origin of Woman’s History Month and some of the most influential female designers who have made significant contributions to the world of fashion. Oh, and did we mention that the fashion industry accounted for 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars in 2020 and is projected to do about 2.25 trillion dollars by 2025? And women helped get them there.

 

HISTORY OF WOMAN’S HISTORY MONTH

There is much info to be found online about how the celebration of women began. What started out as a one day celebration would later become a month long celebration. According to Britannica.com, “In 1908 a branch of the New York City Social Democratic Women’s Society declared that the last Sunday in February would be celebrated as National Woman’s Day. The observance was first held on February 23, 1909, in New York City. However, the better-known precursor to Women’s History Month was International Women’s Day, which was created in 1910 at the Second International Socialist Women’s Conference and first observed on March 19, 1911. Led by German social democratic activist Clara Zetkin, the women of the conference intended International Women’s Day to focus on the struggles of working women—in contrast to the mainstream feminist movement, which the socialists associated with the bourgeoisie. The March 8 date became official in 1921 when Zetkin, by then a communist, proposed it in honour of a strike led by women workers in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) on March 8 (February 23, Old Style), 1917, that marked the beginning of the Russian Revolution.”

The International Women’s Day (IWD) website states that “International Women’s Day was honoured for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.  More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. However less than a week later on March 25, the tragic ‘Triangle Fire’ in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women’s Day events. 1911 also saw women’s Bread and Roses campaign.”

On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on February 23, the last Sunday in February. Following discussions, International Women’s Day was agreed to be marked annually on March 8 that translated in the widely adopted Gregorian calendar from February 23 – and this day has remained the global date for International Women’s Day ever since. In 1914, further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women’s solidarity. For example, in London in the United Kingdom there was a march from Bow to Trafalgar Square in support of women’s suffrage on March 8, 1914. Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested in front of Charing Cross station on her way to speak in Trafalgar Square.” On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for “bread and peace” in response to the death of over 2 million Russian soldiers in World War 1. Opposed by political leaders, the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women’s strike commenced was Sunday February 23 on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was March 8.”

Fast forward to 1978 when Women’s History Week was championed by Austrian-born, Gerda Lerner, the single most influential figure in the development of women’s and African American women’s gender history and whose development of an MA program at Sarah Lawrence College further promoted the National Women’s History Alliance. The following year, in 1979, a fifteen-day conference held at Sarah Lawrence College from July 13 – July 29, focused on women’s history. The event, led by Lerner and co-sponsored by Sarah Lawrence College, the Women’s Action Alliance and the Smithsonian Institution. Celebrating Woman’s History Week quickly grew nationwide, although it was not recognized as a national week until 1980.

Then, in February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week. The proclamation stated, “From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well. As Dr. Gerda Lerner has noted, ‘Women’s History is Women’s Right.’ It is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision. I ask my fellow Americans to recognize this heritage with appropriate activities during National Women’s History Week, March 2–8, 1980. I urge libraries, schools, and community organizations to focus their observances on the leaders who struggled for equality –Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, and Alice Paul. Understanding the true history of our country will help us to comprehend the need for full equality under the law for all our people. This goal can be achieved by ratifying the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that ‘Equality of Rights under the Law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.'” Carter was referring to the Equal Rights Amendment, which was never ratified as a amendment, but did become the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution after his presidency.

Woman’s History Week was quickly growing in popularity. In 1981, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) co-sponsored the first Joint Congressional Resolution proclaiming a Women’s History Week. Congress passed their resolution as Pub. L. 97-28, which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as Women’s History Week. Schools across the country also began to have their own local celebrations of Women’s History Week and even Women’s History Month. And finally in 1986, fourteen states  declared March as Women’s History Month. Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1988, U.S. presidents have issued annual proclamations designating the month of March as Women’s History Month.

What colors symbolize International Women’s Day?

Purple, green and white are the colors of International Women’s Day. Purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolizes hope. White represents purity and the colors originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK in 1908.

FEMALE PIONEERS OF FASHION

Long before Woman’s History Month came into existence, female designers were breaking the fashion industry’d glass ceiling. These designing women carved out their own paths toward empowering women through fashion by instilling confidence through dress and by creating jobs so that women could support themselves and their families.

The list is thankfully long and growing, but here’s some of our favs whose groundbreaking creative genius still influences fashion today. We will be  covering more female designers in subsequent posts so stay tuned.

Madame Grès

Madame Grès draping a dress, c. 1945 (Photo Credit: credit unknown)

Madame Grès was born Germaine Emilie Krebs in Paris France.  She took her first pseudonym, Alix Barton, while a milliner. In 1936, she made her mark on couture under the name Alix, and by 1942, she dropped Barton and assumed the surname Grès from her only marriage in 1942.

This creative intellect experimented with fabric and form to achieve perfection. A trained sculptor, Madame Grès used mathematical precision as she draped her pieces to perfection. Madame Grès was known for draping right on a female figure, no flat patterns or muslin for her. She let the fabric help dictate the design and sculpted her dresses on the form using a needle and thread.

From the beginning…I didn’t have the knowledge. I took the material and worked directly on it. I used the knowledge I had, which was sculpture,” the couturier told WWD in 1963.

Madame Grès is most famous for her 1930s Grecian-influenced column gowns made of silk, rayon and later, polyester jersey. Because the dresses were sculpted and sewn on the body, selvedge to selvedge, no two dresses were alike. And, she used an average of 13 to 23 meters of uncut fabric, which remained weightless. Grès continued to be influenced by multicultural costumes throughout her career.

Madame Grès gown. c1958. Silk. (Photo Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

The designer’s house thrived through the 1950s and 1960s with her couture business. In 1959, Madame Grès introduced her first perfume, Cabochard, to much success. In 1981 the designer created her first ready-to-wear collection, which ultimately limited the house’s growth.

Grès’ approach to her art informed the originality of her genius. But her death, as in life, was shrouded in mystery. In 1994, it was announced to the fashion press that Grès had passed away, but her actual passing was a year earlier. Her death was kept a secret by her daughter.

Appreciation for Grès’ work has permitted her most essential pieces to be preserved by time, allowing her devotion to the couture she loved and her legacy to stay alive.

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel in her Parisian Apartment. (Photo Credit: Architectural Digest)

Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel was born in Saumur, France on August 19, 1883. This designer had such a passion for her creations that she worked right up until her death in 1971 at the age of 87. The majority of industry insiders consider Coco Chanel to be the greatest fashion force who ever lived, she created a fashion spirit, as well as a look. The late designer not only influenced young designers of her time, but she still has an enduring impact on global fashion today, having created some of the most iconic looks that are still in fashion today: the Chanel suit, the Little Black Dress (LBD), costume jewelry, then trench coat, the quilted leather purse, turtlenecks, pants, the peacoat and her signature fragrance, Chanel No.5.

 

Coco Chanel works on tailoring a piece on a model in 1962. (Photo Credit: of Daily Mail UK)

Her career began around 1912 (though she said it was 1914) with the opening of a small hat shop in Deauville, France. With her fiancé at war, she was looking for something to pass the time. According to WWD, After borrowing a sweater from a jockey at the races one day to fend off the chill, Chanel sparked a sweater trend with all “the smart Deauville ladies” within a week. Provocative and scandalous, Chanel was criticized by many for her romantic ties to a German diplomat during WWII and the years that followed. The designer returned to Paris in 1954 and reopened her couture house. And Chanel’s business boomed, and she became one of the most iconic female designer in history.

Bonnie Cashin

Bonnie Cashin in her studio. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

Modern clothing is only valid if it works…and going into history for gimmicky ideas is not modern,” Bonnie Cashin told WWD in 1968.

According to the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry:

Bonnie Cashin – “Born in California in 1908, Cashin began her career as an apprentice in her mother’s dressmaking shops. From there she went onto work as a Hollywood costume designer and during 1943 to 1949, she was costumer for more than 60 Hollywood films. Cashin did not devote herself to ready-to-wear until the early 1950s. It was fashion editor Carmel Snow who encouraged Cashin to go to New York’s Seventh Avenue to design for the company Adler & Adler. Cashin, who developed an interest in clothing styles from various cultures, built her collections based on timeless favorites such as ponchos, tunics, and kimonos. Additionally, Cashin was commissioned to design World War II civilian-defense uniforms which would later be the inspiration for her concept of lifestyle dressing; combining ease of dress without compromising look. Cashin developed the layering system of dress that played a key role in setting the tone for American fashion. In 1953, Cashin designed leather clothing for the company Philip Sills and brought the use of leather into the world of serious fashion. In 1962, she became the first designer for Coach and pioneered the use of the brass toggle on her handbag carriers, which she later used on clothing. Her carriers fit perfectly into the Coach philosophy; the bags packed flat, were utilitarian, and maintained a timeless sense of style.”

 

A look from Bonnie Cashin. (Photo Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Cashin continued to run her design studio until the mid-’80s and passed away in 2000, having largely kept her distance from the grips of fashion’s standards. “I didn’t want to be boxed in by any one company or any one design problem,” she once said

Anne Klein

A photo of Anne Klein. (Photo Credit: Harpers Bazaar)

Anne Klein was born August 3, 1923, in Brooklyn, New York, as Hannah Golofski. The Anne Klein label is synonymous with American sportswear. The company she created in 1968, Anne Klein & Co., grew out of a concept; chic, comfortable, uncomplicated fashion that fits well and is wearable from season to season. “No fads,” the designer once declared to WWD. By the mid-1970s, she changed the concept of American sportswear into what is known as ‘designer ready-to-wear’.

Even today, many of the pieces in our wardrobe can be attributed to Anne Klein. She steadily introduced new silhouettes to women at the right time. A few Anne Klein signature pieces include the button front A-line dress, the leather midi skirt, the long sweater vest cardigan and pants that fit perfectly. These and many more were a part of what WWD called Anne’s “separate into togetherness” concept. While women had long been buying sets, Klein introduced coordinated separates that would allow women to mix and match their wardrobe, a concept that was met with great success throughout department stores.

Versailles show in 1973, Anne Klein was the only female designer to represent the United States. (Photo Credit: Anne Klein Archives)

Anne Klein was such an influential force in the American fashion world that she was the only woman from the American fashion industry invited to participate in the Battle of Versailles extravaganza. In 1968, she introduced the concept of group design when she launched Anne Klein Studios. The studio mentored and helped catapult the careers of many Seventh Avenue designers, such as Donna Karan. Klein died from cancer in 1974, but her legacy lives on.

Liz Claiborne

A photo pf Liz Claiborne in her design studio. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

Liz Claiborne was not only a successful designer, but a savvy businesswoman as well. Launching her namesake label at the age of 47, Claiborne ‘s groundbreaking success was certainly connected to how she wanted to live in her own clothing.

Anne “Liz” Claiborne was born in Brussels to American parents who came from a prominent Louisiana family. She began her career working as a design assistant and model. Her concept for creating effortlessly chic clothes for working women came from her own experience. As a working mother, she knew that time was precious and that fussing over a wardrobe you couldn’t afford was pointless. So, in 1976, Claiborne, along with her husband Art Ortenberg, Leonard Boxer and Jerome Chazen, founded her namesake brand, Liz Claiborne Inc. While her partners focused on sales and operations, Claiborne focused on design.

Liz Claiborne and her models. (Photo Credit: Liz Claiborne archives)

Claiborne bypassed trends and fads and instead followed her gut on what she liked and wanted to wear to fit her lifestyle. Her instincts were spot on, as she attracted a consumer, much like herself, who wanted to fill the void in their work wardrobes. She built a brand that leaned into comfort, with a focus on quality, style, and value. Claiborne was also commitment to interacting with her consumer, which naturally drove the brand’s success.

This concept worked so well for Liz Claiborne that she went from one to more than 10 successful brands. In 1981 the company went public and by 1989 Claiborne and her partners turned the better-priced sportswear market into a multibillion-dollar industry.

Shortly after Claiborne and her husband retired from Seventh Avenue to focus on humanitarian efforts and travel, they left behind, in just under two decades, a portfolio of 40 labels including Dana Buchman, Ellen Tracy, Juicy Couture and Kate Spade, among others. According to WWD, Liz Claiborne was an award-winning designer and the first female CEO and chairwoman of a Fortune 500 company. She passed away from cancer in 2007 at the age of 78.

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE

In honor of Women’s History Month why not take our short quiz to test your knowledge of  how women helped make the fashion industry what it is today:

1. Who is considered the first known fashion designer and the couturier to Queen Marie
Antoinette?
a. Joséphine Chantrell
b. Marie Cremon
c. Rose Bertin

2. Male designers throughout history often engaged a female ‘muse’ for inspiration,
beginning with Marie Augustine Vernet, wife of designer Charles Frederick Worth. Do you
know who was Yves Saint Laurent’s muse? She also went on to create her own brand.
a. Loulou de la Falaise
b. Ava Gabor
c. Ariana Rockefeller

3. Which French couturier began her career as head seamstress at Maison Callot Souers?
a. Jeanne Lavin
b. Madeleine Vionnet
c. Jeanne Paquin

4. Which French designer is known as the “Sculptor of Couture”?
a. Madame Grès
b. Madame Agnès
c. Nina Ricci

5. French designer Paul Poiret is often credited for freeing women from the corset, but it was
actually this female designer who showed her first collection of lingerie-inspired pieces while
working at Maison Doucet.
a. Jeanne Paquin
b. Madeleine Vionnet
c. Coco Chanel

6. Claire McCardle is known as the pioneer of the “American Look”. In the 1940s she created
the pop-over dress and the concept philosophy of “5 easy pieces”. Her wrap and tie dress was later popularized by this designer.
a. Donna Karan
b. Diane von Furstenberg
c. Donatella Versace

7. This designer was the first to make the Little Black Dress (LBD) famous.
a. Hanae Mori
b. Elsa Schiaparelli
c. Coco Chanel

8. This American designer began her career as a Hollywood costume designer. She went on to
design for Coach where she created her famous metal turnkey closure that she later added to
clothing.
a. Vera Maxwell
b. Tina Lesser
c. Bonnie Cashin

9. This designer is considered the inventor of the miniskirt.
a. Hattie Carnegie
b. Mary Quant
c. Twiggy

10. This American designer patented her own pleating technique in 1975, based on a pleating
technique known as Marii.
a. Mary McFadden
b. Donna Karan
c. Norma Kamali

11. This designer was the first to use shoulder pads, animal and trompe l’oeil prints and known
for her whimsical “tongue-in-cheek” approach to fashion.
a. Coco Chanel
b. Elsa Schiaparelli
c. Jeanne Paquin

12. Which designer is known for her fashion innovation known as the “three sleeve-hole”?
a. Adeline André
b. Liz Claiborne
c. Anne Klein

13. Who created the original push-up bra called the Wonderbra in 1964?
a. Diane von Furstenberg
b. Louise Poirier
c. Donatella Versace

14. Who is credited with creating the robe de style, a dress silhouette that flatters all body types.
a. Jeanne Lanvin
b. Madame Gres
c. Vionnet

15. Who is considered the first female African-American designer in the U.S.?
a. Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes
b. Elizabeth Keckley
c. Ruby Bailey

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

ANSWERS TO OUR QUIZZ

1) Rose Bertin, 2) Loulou de la Falaise, 3) Madeleine Vionnet, 4) Madame Grès, 5)

Madeleine Vionnet, 6) Diane von Furstenberg, 7) Coco Chanel, 8) Bonnie Cashin, 9) Mary

Quant, 10) Mary McFadden, 11) Elsa Schiaparelli, 12) Adeline André, 13) Louise Poirier, 14)

Jeanne Lanvin, 15) Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes

For more on fashion history read Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry c0-authored by our founder Francesca Sterlacci

HOW WELL DID YOU DO ON OUR QUIZ?

MILAN & PARIS: FALL 2021 COLLECTIONS PART 2

MILAN

Gigi Hadid is officially back on the runway. Here she is backstage at the Versace show with her sister Bella. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Ciao! Milan Fashion Week ended on a high note as designers looked to the promise of la vita bella (a beautiful life) as COVID-19 vaccines were being distributed throughout Europe as well as the world.

With the possibility of ‘back-to-normal’ in the not too distant future, Italian and French designers created energetically charged pieces at MFW and PFW with the hope that we will all be making a big splash when we return to a life of  normalcy.

(Video credit: Valentino’s live show)

Like New York and London Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week shows were digitally-focused with one exception, namely, Valentino’s intimate runway show. The Milan schedule was packed with established designers such as Missoni, Alberta Ferretti, Moschino, Max Mara, Marni, and Dolce & Gabbana but the highlight of MFW was Kim Jones’ highly anticipated ready-to-wear debut for Fendi, which definitely delivered. Another show of note was Team Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada, who presented their second Prada collab women’s collection to raves. In addition to the traditional line-up of veteran designers, there were a few new names in the mix (finally), such as former Gucci designer Daniel Del Core.

(Video credit: Daniel Del Core’s debut collection)

Daniel Del Core’s debut collection was a socially distance IRL (in real life) show. It’s definitely every aspiring designer’s dream to climb the ladder, gathering experience on someone else’s dime and then ultimately launch their own brand. The proof of the pudding comes when you finally get to ‘strut-your-stuff’ with a runway show. This designer not only succeeded but did it during a pandemic! Check out Daniel’s show video. So, what do you think? Definitely rocking the 80s shoulder, right?

Covid is still wreaking havoc on the fashion show schedule and a few designers presented their digital collections after Milan Fashion Week, such as Versace’s Donatella Versace and Luke and Lucie Meier at Jil Sander. Dates for Bottega Veneta and Gucci are still up in the air.

A look from Prada’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Prada)

Nonetheless, MFW was full of bold trends, thanks to Italian designers’ flare for dramatics. For them, life after lockdown will be anything but boring. Here are our top five trends:

ALL BUNDLED UP

Baby it’s cold outside! For Fall 2021, designers in Milan showed plenty of terrific outerwear to keep you warm, yet oh so fashionable. Brands such as Fendi and Prada featured fabulous big, furry coats, while Valentino focused on charming capes that offer effortless glamour to any look. Meanwhile, the basic puffer got a makeover with unique shapes and bold colors, case in point, Marni.

A look from Marni’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Imaxtree)

A look from Fendi’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Fendi)

 

A look from Prada’s Fall 2021 Collection and the accessory of the season, the zip pouch glove. (Photo Credit: Prada)

 

A look from Valentino’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Salvatore Dragone)

 

A look from MSGM’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Imaxtree)

METALLICA

Glitz and glamour ruled the runways from futuristic silver suits at Annakiki to chainmail gowns at Salvatore Ferragamo, these glistening looks will rule the return of the red carpet.

A look from Annakiki’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Imaxtree)

 

A look from Moschino’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Moschino)

 

A look from Salvatore Ferragamo’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Salvatore Ferragamo)

THE PREPPY HANDBOOK

Leave it to the Italians to give the classic Preppy look a much-needed update. For fall, designers like Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini and Etro are giving the otherwise conservative styles a cool makeover. Relaxed shapes, vibrant hues and edgy styling take preppy away from the country club to and onto the backs of our favorite fashion influencers.

A look from Etro’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Etro)

 

A look from Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini)

 

A look from Andrea Pompilio’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Andrea Pompilio)

BRIGHT OF WAY

Italian designers lit up the season with fantastically bright hues — pink, lavender, yellow, and teal were particularly popular on the runways. Brands like MSGM and Emilio Pucci clashed hues in the most creative and vibrant ways.

A look from Dolce & Gabbana’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Dolce & Gabbana)

 

A look from MSGM’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: MSGM)

 

A look from Emilio Pucci’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Emilio Pucci)

GREEN DAY

Olive has become the new neutral, giving the nod to military-inspired looks that marched down runways by the legion and received uniform salutes. From Ports 1961’s belted coat to Sportmax’s utility shirt, today’s military trend is chic and polished.

A look from Sportmax’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Sportmax)

 

A look from Max Mara’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Max Mara)

 

A look from Ports 1961’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Ports 1961)

PARIS

A look from Dries Van Noten’s Fall 2021Collection. (Photo Credit: Casper Sejersen)

As of the writing of this blog, Paris Fashion Week is still going strong. The fashion show season officially ends on March 10th, but in the City of Lights, the Fall 2021 collections started out with a bang! PFW never disappoints by offering collections that reflect the climate of today, but also gives us the possibilities of dreams and fantasies. Even during the turmoil we are all facing due to the global pandemic, the tremendous loss of life, economic uncertainty and political and social upheaval – designers are still pushing forward creating beautiful collections that offer an escape from the real world and that envision better days ahead.

The most anticipated show of the season was Gabriela Hearst’s debut collection for Chloé. It was an IRL outdoor fashion show and Hearst lived up to the hype.

(Video Credit: Chloé’s Fall 2021 Show)

Gabriela Hearst stayed true to the heritage of Chloé as she offered a collection filled with rich bohemian inspired looks. Hearst, a designer known to incorporate sustainable practices in her own collection, brought that sensibility to Chloé. She integrated lower-impact raw materials and put a plan in place to lower carbon emissions by 2025.  The collection was filled with Boho pieces that you will want to hold on to forever, such as a series of ponchos in stripes and solids, along with knit maxi dresses. Heart showed terrific outerwear from spliced trench coats to a cut-away shearling coat, as well as plenty of patchwork looks, including a leather patchwork jacket and skirt set. In a fashion season dominated by 80s shoulders, Hearst’s bohemian vibe had a ‘70s aesthetic that was fresh and modern.

OTHER TRENDS

SPACE AGE

Futuristic fashion was all over the runways of Paris, from Rick Owens’ sharp shoulders and shimmering bodysuits, to Courrèges’ mod high neck jacket. These looks will have you standing out in any crowd.

A look from Rick Owens’ Fall 2021Collection. (Photo Credit: Carlo Scarpato)

 

A look from Alexandre Vauthier’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Alexandre Vauthier)

 

A look from Vetements’ Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Gio Staiano)

 

A look from Courrèges’ Fall 2021Collection. (Photo Credit: Thomas de Cruz Media)

PRETTY IN PINK

Pink has been a favorite among the millennial set, so for fall, designers showed a range of pretty pink looks from Patou’s belted jacket with feathered trim to Coperni’s zippered dress. Pink is here to stay.

A look from Patou’s Fall 2021Collection. (Photo Credit: Patou)

 

A look from Coperni’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Fillippo Fior)

 

A look from Acne Studios’ Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Acne Studios)

 

A look from Nina Ricci’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Nina Ricci)

 

THE COLD SHOULDER

Designers adopted a chic asymmetry with interesting bare shoulder effects.

A look from Coperni’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Fillippo Fior)

 

A look from Acne Studios’ Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Acne Studios)

 

A look from Ellery’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Kym Ellery)

 

A look from Alaïa’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Piere-Ange Carlotti)

 

HERELD SQUARES

Check this out: windowpane, tartan, houndstooth and more. This fall, designers have gone mad for plaid.

A look fromVivienne Westwood’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Alice Dellal)

 

Looks from Marine Serre’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Marine Serre)

 

A look from Courrèges’ Fall 2021Collection. (Photo Credit: Thomas de Cruz Media)

 

WELL SUITED

Pantsuits were all over the runways, but in Paris, they were anything but business-like. Designers took the office staple to new heights by injecting them with the boldest of hues.

A look from Thebe Magugu’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Thebe Magugu)

 

A look from Loewe’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Loewe)

 

A look from Nina Ricci’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Nina Ricci)

 

A look from Isabel Marant’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Isabel Marant)

So tell us, do you have a favorite trend?

 

FASHION MARCHES ON: FALL 2021 COLLECTIONS PART ONE

- - Fashion Shows

Prabal Gurung and looks from his Fall 2021 collection modeled by members of POSE. (Photo Credit: Lexie Moreland for WWD)

The Fall 2021 season is shaping up to be a promising one. In the United States the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have dropped significantly, and many experts predict that by the fall, thanks to the vaccines, increased testing, masks, and social distancing, we should reach herd immunity. So, with the promise of normalcy on the horizon, designers are embracing a joyful and vibrant approach to their fall 2021 collections.

NEW YORK, THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS

(Video credit: Jason Wu)

New York Fashion Week kicked off on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th with Jason Wu’s live, in-person show, and ended on the 17th as per the American Collections Calendar released by the CFDA (formally known as the New York Fashion Week schedule). So, after all this time, why did CFDA chairman Tom Ford rename the official New York Fashion Week schedule to the “American Collections Calendar”? Ford stated it was to reflect the growing number of American designers showing later in the season or in locations outside of New York. Tom Ford was suppose to close out the New York season, but his digital show date was pushed back due to unforeseen circumstances related to the pandemic.

Like the spring 2021 season, many fashion designers are debuting their fall collections by means of livestreams, lookbooks, presentations and other digital methods including the CFDA’s digital platform Runway360; a stark contrast from the large-scale, in-person productions that had been the norm prior to the deadly pandemic. The designers who have opted to show this season are an array of young designers, contemporary brands, and high-end designers that included: Prabal Gurung,  Veronica Beard, Alice + Olivia, Markarian, Tadashi Shoji, Badgley Mischka, Anna Sui, Monse, Adeam, Victor Glemaud, Rodarte, Tanya Taylor, Anne Klein, Dennis Basso, Cinq à Sept, Jonathan Simkhai, Bibhu Mohapatra, Nicole Miller, Rebecca Minkoff and Christian Cowan. As you can see, there were many established brands who decided not to participate in NYFW including: Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Brandon Maxwell, Tommy Hilfiger, Christopher John Rogers, Pyer Moss and Tory Burch.

According to WWD, IMG is furthering its alliance with the Black in Fashion Council by supporting Black fashion designers during New York Fashion Week. The two organizations are setting up showrooms in New York City and Los Angeles to showcase designs from Black fashion designers, which can be viewed in person, by-appointment throughout fashion week. Brands featured in the showrooms include Beads Byaree, Chelsea Paris, Chuks Collins, EDAS, House of Aama, Kendra DuPlantier, Maris Wilson, Michel Men, Nicole Benefield, Third Crown, Theophilio and Whensmokeclears.

Looks from Maris Wilson’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Marissa Wilson)

Even TikTok is getting in on Fashion Month as the social media platform teamed up with IMG Fashion and provided editorial content to the TikTok community. The initiative will run through New York, London, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks, where TikTok users will be able to view live fashion shows and previously recorded videos on the TikTok accounts @FashionWeek, @NYFW and @MADE.

From Left to Right: Lazaro Hernandez, Ella Emhoff, and Jack McCollough, backstage at the Proenza Schouler Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Hunter Abrams)

But the biggest news that came out of New York Fashion Week, was the emergence of Ella Emhoff, the stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris, making her debut on the Proenza Schouler runway.  Ella Emhoff, the curly-haired, bespectacled grad student/model made a bigger splash than any fall 2021 trend, though there were a few of those, most noteworthy chunky knitwear and slouchy suiting. According to a New York Times article, the designers behind the Proenza Schoular label, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, liked Ella’s look, they told her during a Zoom preview; but they also liked that Ella was a student at New York City’s Parsons, the duo were notable alumni of the fashion school. Ella is a crafty knitwear designer and just created several one-of-a-kind pieces which she introduced to the fashion world.

(Video credit: Proenza Schouler)

As for the Proenza Schouler collection, the design duo raised the bar as they combined their effortlessly cool tailoring in jersey, wool, and leather with tactile details such as macramé and crochet inserts, silk fringe, and dip-dyed hems. There was also a nod to effortless layering – so everything was off-centered and unexpected – such as layers of slip dresses that were actually a single garment. The collection also had plenty of terrific jackets that can be either uncinched or cinched to create a cocooning shape that was oh so chic.

BREAKOUT STARS

As for the few high-profile designers who presented during New York Fashion Week there were plenty of young designers and brands who really stood out this season. Here are a few:

BATSHEVA

The singer Adeline in her kitchen, wearing a dress from the Batsheva fall 2021 collection. (Photo Credit: Alexei Hay)

Coming up with innovative ways to digitally present your brand can be a challenging one. But Batsheva Hay, the designer behind her namesake label Batsheva, found a solution that her audience can relate to. The designer and her photographer husband, Alexei Hay, began to photograph people cooking their favorite meals in their kitchen wearing Batsheva’s designs. The concept is so simple yet it really connected and stands out in a sea of lookbook images. Muses included Ego Nwodim, Nicky Hilton, Amy Fine Collins, and Maude Apatow, each offering a distinct take on clothing and cooking.

Hay’s concept of allowing women to wear her creations in their own world is a perfect recipe for the brand. As for the clothes, there were plenty of looks that are appropriate for today’s reality – pretty, yet comfortable. Hay’s effortless prairie dresses have plenty of girlie options with sweet ruffles, rocker crushed velvet, and dainty bow motifs.

Hay also introduced denim for the first time, as she created two options with ruffled trim and elastic waists, perfect to pair back to her crafty knitwear collection.

COLLINA STRADA

Collina Strada’s morphing collection. (Photo Courtesy of Collina Strada)

Having a sense of humor definitely lifts spirits during troubling times, especially during a global pandemic. So props to Hillary Taymour, the designer behind the buzz-worthy label Collina Strada, as she presents one of the most playful and fun digital presentations to date. For her fall 2021 collection, Taymour had the idea of turning humans into animals to offer a sense of relief and joy. The young and creative designer partnered with the illustrator of the Animorphs book series, David Burroughs Mattingly, and collaborators Charlie Engman and Freeka Tet, to make graphics that transform her cast of star models like Aaron Philip, Ruby Aldridge, Jeremy O. Harris, and Kathleen McCain Engman into cats, peacocks, praying mantises, and even a balloon dog. The lightheartedness is hard earned; throughout the year-long pandemic, Taymour has not only continued to push herself to create environmentally-minded collections using leftover materials and recycled fabrics, but she was also one of the first to create masks for sale and for healthcare workers.

MARKARIAN

A look from Markarian’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Markarian)

Every designer dreams of having their creations worn by a celebrity and gaining instant fame and sales along the way. Well on January 20, 2021, that dream became a reality for Alexandra O’Neill, as First Lady Dr. Jill Biden wore the young designer’s label Markarian on inauguration day. The First Lady of the United States wore a full look from Markarian: a custom cerulean tweed dress and matching coat trimmed with pearls and velvet cuffs. On a Zoom call with Vogue Runway, O’Neill said her social media following doubled instantly, and the e-tailer Moda Operandi reported a 570 percent spike in traffic to Markarian pieces within 24 hours. Overnight the label went from relative obscurity to international news. It was a reminder of how deeply women care about what First Ladies wear—and how influential their choices can be. Michelle Obama boosted the profile of many young American designers in her day.

The label Markarian is anything but casual. O’Neill is known to create beautiful wedding dresses and red-carpet worthy gowns. So the challenge for the creative young designer has been how to merge elegant clothing and work-from-home wear. For fall 2021, O’Neill struck the perfect balance of glamourous at home looks, case in point, a brocade robe dress. She also showcased recycled cashmere knits that were oh so glam with attached shawls that you can effortlessly toss over your shoulder, as well as a darling pointelle stitch midi-dress.

But O’Neill’s customers are feeling optimistic and are shopping on Moda for her more fanciful pieces such as an LBD with “firework” crystal embellishments and full skirts with built in corsets. Let the good times begin!

A.POTTS

Looks from A. Potts Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Gregory Wilkstrom)

Aaron Potts, the designer behind his namesake label A. Potts, offers a chic, genderless collection that captures the essence of approachable elegance. Although Potts’s silhouettes veer towards couture —cocooning shapes, layered coats, and full-skirted gowns—they are joyous and fun. According to Potts, the secret has to do with the fabrics and colors he chose for the season: yellow and gray pieces rendered in tissue-weight jersey; wool; faux foil leather; and a fluffy ‘mauxhair,’ as he calls his faux mohair. In an interview with Vogue Runway, he described a need for optimism and creativity. “The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t cliché,” he said. “It’s necessary.”

To bring his vision to life, Potts cold-emailed Yannick Lebrun, a dancer at Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, who helped cast fellow dancers Khalia Campbell, Fana Tesfagiorgis, and James Gilmer in the lookbook and film. The performers are the perfect complement to the clothing, showing its brilliance without obscuring their own. Looks ranged from a horsehair-trimmed gown to  ombré plaid outerwear. Overall, the collection was effortlessly chic and modern.

BEVZA

A look from Bevza’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Bevza)

Svetlana Bevza is the Ukranian designer behind her namesake label Bevza. The indie label is known for its take of sexy ‘90s minimalism and has gained a celebrity fan base which include Emily Ratajkowski and Gigi Hadid. But for Fall 2021 the designer switched decades and was inspired by the ‘70s aesthetic. Beva worked her minimal aesthetic into fringed capes, flared jeans, and bohemian inspired headbands worn across the forehead; it’s a bit on a rebel spirit in the most polished way.

Bevza also paid homage to her native Ukraine as she looked to Olga of Kyiv, who ruled in the 10th century, for inspiration. The knit balaclavas were inspired by Olga, but the designer paired the traditional headwear with matching blazers and over the knee boots for a modern edge. Bevza also included an image of the ‘spikelet,’ a symbol of good harvest and an optimistic year, and let’s face it, after living through a global pandemic for a year now, we can all use some optimism.

LONDON’S CALLING

Molly Goddard is well known for her daring otherworldly confections. Here is a look from her Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Ben Broomfield)

London Fashion Week took place from Feb. 19th – 23rd. The Fall 2021 season was entirely digital as Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a third national lockdown for England amid a surging Covid-19 outbreak driven by a U.K. variant in early January.

This further lockdown is incredibly challenging for businesses, freelancers and individuals,” Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council, said in a statement. “Our industry is one of amazing creativity and this is more true in the U.K. than any other country. The majority of businesses and individuals we work with are independent businesses and creatives who contribute significantly to the cultural and creative reputation of our country.”

The BFC continues to ask Government to engage in support of the fashion industry,” Rush said. “One of the main active requests is to allow key creative and model talent to travel to and from the U.K. with a phased introduction of quarantine exemptions for the fashion industry, in order to carry out essential business, to protect the competitiveness of the British fashion industry.”

London Fashion Week took place on www.londonfashionweek.com, a digital platform, where people could access not just the collections that would typically debut on a runway or at a presentation, but also additional multi-media content, including interviews with designers, podcasts and e-commerce.

The season was billed as the first “gender-neutral” digital fashion week, but it turned out to be more like a mixed-gender than gender-neutral.

THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

Kudos to London Fashion Week for always embracing young designers and Indie brands. Here are a few of our favorites.

EDELINE LEE

For her digital premiere, Edeline Lee opened with an introduction in her own voice: “Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning that lives in our clothes, the nostalgia and memories that we attach to our clothing,” she said, before sharing a short story and urging her listeners to put on their headphones and close their eyes. It was a great attempt at storytelling, but with so many digital presentations to view, the video ran on a tad too long.

The piece tells the story of Georgia, a woman downloading her memory bank to a ‘program’ without a name but a model number, and an option to name her—Georgia calls her Lynne after a friend who is a good listener. The story centers around a memory of her mother twirling in front of the mirror in her favorite malachite-colored dress, how it was intended to be worn to Georgia’s wedding, but instead her mother was buried in it, but she would have found it fun wearing ‘a great dress to a terrible party.’ “I wanted to explore how digitally we can touch people,” said Lee in an interview with Vogue Runway. “How do you give someone an experience online—a human experience? We are always separated by a screen, and it made me think about how clothes are on the surface, too, but what do they really mean… this storytelling touched that nerve at a deeper level… I don’t know, maybe lockdown is getting to me!” She laughed, but she had a point.

Lee built her brand on real clothes that women can live their lives in: drop off the kids, head to work, sit through a working lunch, and so on, but the best part is, nothing will wrinkle. Her best-selling piece is her flattering wrap dress that can be worn either loose or fitted. She had plenty of these effortless dresses, but she also added a series of separates for our new Work-from-Home lifestyle. Lee created tapered track pants, brush stroked jacquard tops, and a short sleeve dressing gown coat in piqué GOTS certified organic cotton (to that end, Lee has been working on more sustainable practices; all of her linings, trims, and packaging are sustainably sourced). “My pattern cutting is loosening up, I’m needing that comfort more and more,” she says. “My customers still need that great top for Zoom, but many of them are working from home, so they’re asking for this too.”

COLVILLE

A look from Colville’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Colville)

Molly Molloy and Lucinda Chambers, the duo behind the Colville label, were inspired by vases for their fall 2021 collection. But not just any vase, more specifically Murano glass vases that appeared in their lookbook, each one handmade by glassblowers in Italy. Molloy and Chambers launched their label in 2018. They stated that they work with feelings rather than strategy. Maybe this is why they instantly became insider favorites, with their sculptural earrings and handwoven wayuu bags.

The organic swirls of the Murano glass vases were echoed in the psychedelic marble print that emerged on silk sculpted dresses and matching leggings. Key looks ranged from a color-block piqué twinset to a hoodie spliced together from Nike sports gear. The duo also created wonderful vests patchworked from upcycled down puffer jackets. Molloy and Chambers also gave a nod to romance with a dress that was nipped and ruched at the waist in a style that was both sexy and forgiving. The duo also created plenty of ruffled detail tops and, for the first time, they introduced a lace top that was worn under a peplum bustier.

The collection had some neutrals but overall, there were plenty of bursts of color and prints, which will surely have their customers stand out during their next Zoom call.

YUHAN WANG

Looks from Yuhan Wang’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Yuhan Wang)

Bridgerton has become an extremely popular Netflix series especially among the fashion crowd, which is no surprise given the beautiful costumes and setting of the show. The costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick,  has done a phenomenal job recreating 18th century looks that are so regal and rich they are fit for a princess. So it should come as no surprise that many designers found themselves creating looks that would be perfect for the series, most noteworthy, Yuhan Wang. The designer created a pastel-hued, romantic, floral collection that you can picture in a Regency drawing room.

Before graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2018, Wang studied art in her homeland China.  “I paint landscapes,” she said on a Zoom call from her studio in London in an interview with Vogue Runway. “The painters created these fantasy-nature landscapes for noblemen to escape from the ordinary world. It was always done by men for men. So this season I wanted to make my own, for women and girls.”

Wang created charming watercolor landscape prints and embroideries for her collections, such as sika deer, pine trees, and delicate florals. These delightful patterns made their way onto her signature fluid draped dresses, as well as flared trousers and some peplum jackets trimmed with raw-edge fringe. Beautiful pieces for when we can all emerge back into normalcy. Soon, soon soon.

To quote poet, performer, model, and trans visibility activist Kai Isaiah Jamal, “We know anywhere can be a runway if your mind has something to walk down it.”

SO TELL US, DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE FALL 2021 SHOW THUS FAR?

FORGET POLITICS…MADAM VP IS A STYLE ICON IN THE MAKING

(Left to Right) U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and President Joe Biden at their Inauguration.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris just completed their first weeks in office. While the dynamic duo has already brought about plenty of positive changes, they also amped-up the fashion quotient in D.C. Thanks to First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and VP Kamala Harris, and finally, American young designers are once again at the forefront of the world fashion stage.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama was a true champion of young American designers and during her eight years as First Lady she has worn everything from Jason Wu to Narciso Rodriguez, turning American designers into household names. American Designers created custom looks for the former First Lady and when she wore a young designer’s creation, the publicity was a dream-come-true. In 2016 when former President Trump took office, many designers disagreed with Trumps’ political stance, and declined to dress the former First Lady Melania Trump, so many of Melania Trump’s outfits were purchased, as opposed to being custom-created or gifted, as is tradition. While this was great for retailers, American designers suffered not being in the political limelight.

Doug Emhoff and Kamala Harris, in Altuzarra, as she accepted the nomination for the vice presidency at the Democratic National Convention. (Photo Credit: Win Mcnamee for Getty Images)

Thankfully, this will all change as the United States moves into a new era of leadership, all eyes will be on Vice President Harris to see what subtle statements she will make with her wardrobe choices. Throughout the campaign trail, Kamala Harris’ wardrobe remained consistent: a business-ready pantsuit or blazer worn with jeans; her shoe choices were also limited to her signature Converse sneakers or a classic pointed-toe pump. The VP also consistently wore her beloved accessory, a string of pearls, a sentimental tribute to her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at Howard University. Kamala Harris has broken down many barriers as she is the first female, Black, and South Asian-American Vice President of the United States.

AMERICA’S VP COVERGIRL

Vice President Kamala Harris appears on the February print Vogue cover. (Photo Credit: Tyler Mitchell)

VP Harris’ style has evolved greatly since the early days of her campaign trail. She has even graced the covers of prestigious fashion magazines, including Elle in November 2020 and the Vogue February 2021 cover that stirred up plenty of controversy involving the most powerful woman in fashion and the most powerful woman in the White House. Social media ran ramped with many accusing the Vogue cover as being “disrespectful”, but Ann Wintour originally described the cover as “joyful, casual, and accessible.”

On the print Vogue cover the VP is dressed in a dark brown jacket by Donald Deal, narrow black jeans, a white t-shirt, her signature Irene Neuwirth pearl necklaces, and trusty Converse sneakers. But the second Vogue cover which was digital, featured a closer-cropped photo of the VP wore a pale blue suit by Michael Kors.

Vice President Kamala Harris wears Michael Kors on the February digital Vogue cover. (Photo Credit: Tyler Mitchell)

Many social media users argued that the Vice President should have been dresses more inspirational than casual.  When Kamala appeared on the cover of “Elle” in November, they captured her strength, warmth, intelligence, and beauty. She looked completely Vice Presidential. Sad that Vogue did not achieve those results in such a momentous moment in American history.

Vice President Kamala Harris appears on the November 2020 Elle cover. (Photo Credit: Inez & Vinoodh)

According to Sway, people familiar with the matter on both sides said that there had been no contractual cover approval agreement in place, the cover image was not what the vice president’s team had expected. The day after the first photo leaked, a second — more formal — digital exclusive cover was also released. Ms. Wintour said in a follow-up statement to Sway, “Obviously we have heard and understood the reaction to the print cover and I just want to reiterate that it was absolutely not our intention to, in any way, diminish the importance of the vice president-elect’s incredible victory.” In an exclusive interview on this episode of “Sway,” Ms. Wintour discusses the magazine cover, diversity concerns at Condé Nast, the future of the fashion industry.

Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sway/id1528594034?i=1000505058648

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS’ STYLE EVOLUTION

Vice President Kamala Harris’ fashion choices. (Photo Credit: Town & Country all Getty Images)

Through the years as a senator in California and on the campaign trail, VP Kamala Harris shied away from fashion. Her uniform consisted of muted pantsuits, blazers, skinny jeans, and her signature Converse sneakers and pearl necklaces. Her sartorial choices were meant to blend into the background while she fought for political change and policies that were dear to her heart.

Then Senator Kamala Harris grilling a Trump administration official in June, 2020. (Photo Credit: Pool for Getty Images)

But once Biden chose her as her running mate, Kamala Harris’ style began to evolve. For starters, Vice President Harris began to collaborate with Hollywood stylist Karla Welch, who is especially known for the perfectly imperfect off-duty looks she creates for her clients, a diverse crew that includes Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Karlie Kloss, Tracee Ellis Ross, and even Anita Hill. According to Town & Country, “Harris and Welch’s professional partnership is something of a secret—kinda open, kinda not. And neither camp returned emails requesting confirmation.”

During inauguration week, VP Harris’ sartorial choices where on point and rich with meaning, the most powerful woman in the United States wore looks create by designers of color, including Sergio Hudson, Prabal Gurung, Pyer Moss’s Kerby Jean-Raymond and Christopher John Rogers, whose brilliant purple coat and dress was accessorized with pearls by Puerto Rican designer Wilfredo Rosado on the day she was sworn in as Vice President of the U.S.

In a Town & Country interview with Robin Givhan, the only journalist to receive a Pulitzer Prize for fashion criticism, and who is now the Washington Post’s senior critic-at-large, chronicling politics, race and the arts stated, “On one hand, Harris’s clothes are straightforward and professional, especially while she was on the campaign trail. She looks like she could be walking into any major law firm, any Fortune 500 company. But I think there’s also this sort of inability to not discuss her clothes because of the historical nature of her position.”

Fashion is a way for people to get a little slice of Harris’s life and symbolism for themselves. It’s aspirational fashion in a new way. “I also just sort of worry to some degree that we are muddling the line between Vice President and First Lady,” says Givhan.

A First Lady she is not, but she is a first of so many achievements—first woman, first woman of color, first woman of South Asian descent, first daughter of immigrants to hold the office of vice president. So as the most powerful woman of the United States, should the public scrutinize over her sartorial choices? Naturally, her policies and what she does for the nation comes first, but there is nothing wrong with adding a little panache along the way.

Vice President Kamala Harris in Carolina Herrera (Left) and President Joe Biden (Right) on the night they accepted their victory. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Her rise to fashion stardom began in November, the night she took the stage alongside President Joe Biden and they accepted their victory as the newly elected President and Vice President of the United States. VP Harris carefully selected a creamy Carolina Herrera pantsuit and white silk pussy bow blouse, a nod to the suffragist movement, this look was analyzed across every form of media and many approved the look as it stood for how far women have come and she embodied power and beauty in her suit.  The public is watching what VP Harris wears so closely that there is already a useful website, WhatKamalaWore.com, by the journalist Susan E. Kelley, who also curates similar sites about Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton’s sartorial choices.

“I don’t think she needs to make a stand verbally, but I do think there are going to be expectations of her in her position as a woman,” says Peju Famojure, a stylist and fashion consultant who has styled Solange Knowles and consulted with Beyoncé in a Town & Country interview. “There are always expectations tied into women’s fashion choices. People would be happy to see her support brands that are made in America, but also Black-owned brands, giving them representation, not only from a visual standpoint, but also helping to drive monetary success.”

While VP Harris will want people to focus on her politics and not her clothes, as a history-making public figure, her sartorial choices are a part of the picture that many will focus on. So far, Harris’ outfits have been a lesson in a new form of power dressing: her suits and pointed-toe pumps convey an authoritative mindset, while the more casual Converse and jeans signify a relatable casualness, accessible and familiar to the average American.

U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, in Pyer Moss, at the COVID Memorial. (Photo Credit: Patrick T. Fallon via Getty Images)

On January 19th, the eve before the historic inauguration, President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, along with Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for a COVID memorial honoring and remembering the more than 400,000 American lives lost to the pandemic so far.

Arranged along both sides of the Mall’s pool of reflection were hundreds of rectangles of light. “To heal we must remember. It’s hard sometimes to remember,” Biden said, “but that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation…Let us shine the lights in the darkness…and remember all whom we lost.” His words were followed by a moment of silence. While the moment was somber and full of sorrow, there was also a sense of hope.

There is no doubt that the Biden administration will set a completely different tone than the Trump administration, it will also be a breath of fresh air on the fashion front as First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have both been championing young American designers and their sartorial choices have been polished, sophisticated, empowering, and bold.  The VP opted to wear a chic camel cashmere coat by Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, which, appeared as a more traditional silhouette from the front, but the back turned revealed a curved shoulder seam that gave way to a flowing, pleated back. Kerby Jean-Raymond is a young Black designer who is likewise weaving purpose into his mission. On his runways, Jean-Raymond has addressed African American narratives in popular culture. In September of last year, he gathered PPE for hospital workers and provided $50,000 in grants for small businesses affected by the COVID crisis.

A back look of U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, in Pyer Moss, at the COVID Memorial. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Harris also took to the podium the night of the COVID Memorial and said, “Tonight we grieve and begin healing together. Though we may be physically separated, we the American people are united in spirit. And my abiding hope, my abiding prayer, is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom: to cherish simple moments, to imagine new possibilities, and to open our hearts just a little bit more to one another.”

The Vice President chose Prabal Gurung the morning Inaugural Prayer Service. (Photo Credit: @SecondGentleman Instagram)

On January 20th, Inauguration Day, Vice President Kamala Harris began the day at a church service alongside President Biden and his family. Here she chose a look from Prabal Gurung, an American designer who was born in Singapore and grew up in Nepal. She looked stunning in a garnet-hued double-faced wool crepe dress with a matching coat.

As Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President, she wore a pearl necklace by Wilfredo Rosado. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Shortly after Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President of the United States by Sonia Sotomayor, America’s first Latina Supreme Court justice. Our first female VP wore a stellar coat and dress by Christopher John Rogers, a young Black designer, who’s known for his love of bold and vibrant colors and shapes, as well as her signature strand of pearls. Her coat and dress were elegant and chic, while purple symbolizes strength, royalty, hope, and a call for unity at a time of political division; after all, when you mix blue (democrat) and red (republican) together, the color purple is created. A fitting chose for our Vice President.

Wearing Sergio Hudson, VP Kamala Harris continued to show support for black designers at the Inaugural Concert. (Photo Credit: The New York Post)

Later that night, at the Celebrating America event, Vice President Kamala Harris championed another young black designer, Sergio Hudson, as she wore an elegant liquid sequin cocktail dress with a floor-length silk tuxedo overcoat, both in inky black—and topped off the look with Irene Neuwirth earrings.

Since winning the election Vice President Kamala Harris’ fashion game has been strong, but we would love to see her step out of her comfort zone, but still be appropriate for her many meetings as VP.

So tell us, what looks would you like to see Vice President Kamala Harris wear?

PRESIDENTIAL STYLE: JOE BIDEN’S SARTORIAL CHOICES THROUGHOUT THE YEARS

President Joe Biden in his signature navy suit and aviator sunglasses. (Photo Credit: @Drew Angerer)

There is no denying that President Joe Biden has nailed the fashion formula throughout his campaign trail, state visits and even during his off-duty sartorial looks. Joe Biden turned 78 on Nov. 20, 2020 and has had a long and successful political career, including two terms as Vice-President of the United States (2009-2017). He is now the most powerful political figure of the United States of America and his clothing choices are being eagerly watched by the fashion industry, who are desperately in need of a shot in the arm (vaccine pun, unintended).

For the most part, men’s suits on the political stage are simply that: men’s suits and not much more. Apart from a pattern on a tie or shirt color, they all look roughly the same. But the truth is that everything from the fit of their shoulders to the size of their shirt collar matters. It can be the difference between looking put together versus wearing unbuttoned oversized baggy suits.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN’S INAUGURATION

(Left) First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and (Right) President Joe Biden wearing American Designers on his Inauguration Day. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

On Jan. 20, 2021, the world watched as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America. President Biden is known for his effortless, classic American style, so it was no surprise that Ralph Lauren designed his suit for this President’s inauguration.  Before his big day, WWD published an article announcing that Ralph Lauren would be dressing the President for the inauguration. Sources stated that “Biden has been working with the designer on a suit for the historic ceremony. The custom suit will be made in the recently renamed Rochester Tailored Clothing in Rochester, N.Y., which has been making Hickey Freeman clothing for more than a century.” Throughout the years, Joe and Jill Biden have been regular Ralph Lauren customers. “You can’t go wrong wearing Ralph Lauren,” said one menswear designer to WWD.

As President Biden was sworn in, he was the epitome of classic American style. He wore a navy blue suit and overcoat by Ralph Lauren. In a WWD article, one observer commented, “ This is a symbolic sartorial statement for a return to decorum and upholding the values of America.”  President Joe Biden wore a navy, single-breasted, notch lapel, two-button suit, a crisp white dress shirt, and a pale blue tie to coordinate with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s Markarian coat and dress look was created by the young American designer Alexandra O’Neill. The color blue was a nod to the Democratic party, according to WWD, a symbol of trust, confidence, and stability. President Biden captured the essence of how a modern day leader of the free world would look like.

Wearing Ralph Lauren was a departure from Brooks Brothers the oldest men’s clothier, founded in 1818, who had outfitted 41 of the 46 American presidents, including Barack Obama during his inauguration in 2009. Due to their failure to adapt to the trend towards slim cut suits and business casual wear, Brooks Brothers fell into bankruptcy last year and was sold for $325 million to SPARC Group, a joint venture between Simon Property and Authentic Brands Group.

Ralph Lauren has a history of nonpartisan dressing, including moments with Michelle Obama and outgoing First Lady Melania Trump. Joe Biden even sported a classic Polo shirt recently to take both of his COVID-19 vaccinations on television.

 

FASHION CHOICES THROUGH THE YEARS

A young Joseph Biden, wearing a casual short-sleeved shirt, pictured in 1967. (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Joe Biden’s political career began in 1970 when he was first elected to a county council seat in Delaware. The law graduate and public defender worked as a senator and launched his first presidential campaign in the 1980s. In 2009, Joe Biden became the Vice President under Barack Obama, the two were a political dream team and had the cool-guy swagger that elevated the menswear game. Biden served as VP of the United States for two terms, ending his post in 2017.

President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama sharing a laugh and looking dapper. (Photo Credit: barackobama.medium.com)

Throughout his numerous years in political office, Biden has, naturally, refined his work wardrobe, moving from bolder prints and heavier fabrics to cleaner-cut tailoring and the occasional relaxed, open-necked shirt. The President also has embraced accessories to define his style, from his signature aviator sunglasses to funky print socks. President Biden has also been seen throughout his campaign wearing a face-mask, to protect not only himself, but everyone around him.

President Joe Biden in his elegant sartorial look and face mask . (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

When not on the campaign trail, President Biden has also been known to dabble in leather jackets, short-sleeved shirts and his signature aviators. A relaxed preppy vibe with a modern twist.

InStyle Magazine’s 2017 spread on Joe Biden. (Photo Credit Mario Sorrenti)

Here are some of Biden’s looks throughout the years:

Joseph Biden, in stripes and polka dots, checks in at the office of the Secretary of the Senate on December 13, 1972. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Joe Biden, in a slick tux, pictured at an event on July 14, 1987. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

 

Joseph Biden, left, in a casual shirt and aviators, receives a briefing at the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea, on August 11, 2001. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Joe Biden, in midnight blue, visits the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 17, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

BIDEN’S STYLE TODAY

Joe Biden, in his favorite color of suit, navy, and his wife, Jill Biden, attend at his election night event at the Chase Centre in Delaware, US, on November 3, 2020. (Photo Credit: EPA)

Today, President Biden is one of the best dressed politicians in the United States. The President is known for wearing a well-tailored classic cut suit, which makes sense given his physique (slim and tall). To the unqualified eye President Biden’s suits might appear to fit a little on the large side, but the slight pull at his top button and the way the back of his jacket collar sits flush against his shirt collar indicate a well-fitted suit.

For the most part President Biden sticks to what works best for him. His suits are usually navy, although occasionally he pushes himself out of his comfort zone and wears black or khaki tones. It seems that the President also prefers to wear crisp white shirts, which give him a sleek and refined look.

President Joe Biden supports his local community. For years he has been working with his local tailor in Wilmington, Delaware and occasionally orders custom shirts from Wright & Simon, a narrow shop on Market Street. Leonard Simon, the shop’s proprietor, has plenty of selfies with the President, but Simon laughs in an interview with the local paper Northjersey.com; “The pictures are in my phone. That’s where they will stay,” said Simon, 71, whose father, Morris Simon, cofounded Wright & Simon in 1935. “I’m a small store in a small state. I have to have discretion.”

Custom suits created at Wright & Simon are beautifully tailored and fit to perfection on their clients. Leonard Simon boasts that his clients can receive a perfectly tailored suit at a fraction of the cost of a designer version. Wilmington is not a $3,000-suit kind of town. At Wright & Simon, a customer can purchase a custom fit and press suit in their tailoring shop above the store for $795. Now that’s a bargain!

President Biden also perfected the art of accessorizing with his cool signature Ray Ban aviator sunglasses, dapper pocket squares, sleek facemasks, elegant repp ties (repetitive woven ribs of the silk tie fabric) and playful socks.

A pair of American Flag themed socks that Joe Biden has worn in the past. (Photo Credit: HuffPost)

PRESIDENT BIDEN BRAND  CHOICES

President Biden mostly chooses his suits from his local tailor shop in Wilmington, Delaware for a moderate price, and the tailoring is impeccable; former President Trump on the other hand has his suits custom made by the Italian luxury brand Brioni for a whopping $3,000.

According to Patrick Henry, better known as LA designer/tailor ‘Fresh’, a slimmer, more tailored fit reads more youthful and modern like those worn by Biden, while a larger and more relaxed suit like that of former President Trump, may speak to a different audience.

According to Fresh, President Biden’s pants are a perfect choice for his silhouette. “Biden’s break sits right at the top of his shoe. “Even though he’s moving and walking, you can still see it hits right at the top. He’s not showing his whole sock off, he’s not trying to look super cool or like a teen, the whole leg fits great.”

Ultimately, Fresh said the tailoring on President Biden’s suits and details like pocket squares make him look more youthful, confident, and ready.

“The presidency isn’t about health and physical fitness, but Biden looks like a young man, like he could go toe to toe with anyone,” he said. “He looks confident and, in my opinion, gives a look of readiness. Whereas a more conservative, looser fit looks like he might be ready to go do something else.”

FASHION AT THE WHITE HOUSE

Throughout the history of the White House, the United States has had several very fashionable first ladies and dapper presidents; from John and Jacqueline Kennedy to Barack and Michelle Obama. These political powerhouses brought style and grace to the White House.

Former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden have plenty of swag. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

No one has championed young American designers the way Michelle Obama did, so today, designers are becoming excited again for a fashionable-forward president and first lady. In an article in GQ magazine, America’s most influential designers are celebrating President Joe Biden’s sartorial choices.

In an interview with GQ, American fashion designer and CFDA Chairman Tom Ford stated, “Joe Biden is the perfect American president for now. I have always said that true elegance is not about style but about the way that one treats others. And Joe Biden is elegant. He also happens to be sartorially elegant: understated and a kind of calm and self-assurance that comes with age and experience. Slim and long with perfect posture, I find him quite sleek. A dramatic contrast to his predecessor. In fact, a welcome contrast in every way.”

Tom Ford, you captured President Biden’s essence perfectly!

REMINDER – UNIVERSITY OF FASHION HAS A MEN’S PATERN MAKING SERIES TO GET YOU STARTED AS A MENSWEAR DESIGNER

A FRESH START TO THE YEAR: PRE-FALL 2021

- - Fashion Shows

Versace’s Pre-Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Theo Sion for Versace)

As we begin 2021, many of us are looking forward with hope to a vaccine that will help get us back to our pre-Covid lives. It can’t come a minute too soon. But what started out as a year of hope, took a discouraging turn here in the U.S. when only 6 days into 2021, we witnessed an insurrection in a failed attempt to bring down our government. As we write this, we still can’t believe it! It was a very sad day for our democracy.

 

Erdem’s Pre-Fall 2021 Collection. (Image Credit: Erdem)

So, who doesn’t need a little fashion in their life right about now? Thank goodness for Pre-Fall. Fashion designers are celebrating the new year by promoting a return to ‘dressing up.’ They want us to ditch our sweats and leisurewear and put some fashion effort into our lives. Sounds good to me! And once again, due to Covid restrictions, these designers came up with creative ways to present their collections.

GUCCI

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     (Video Credit: Gucci)

Leave it to Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, to present his Pre-Fall 2021 collection in a manner that is just as eclectic and creative as his clothes. Michele collaborated with American filmmaker Gus Van Sant, and the two creative geniuses came up with the project known as “GucciFest.” A digital project of 90 minutes shot throughout Rome over a 20-day period. The outcome, a seven-episode miniseries of visual delight.

The miniseries features plenty of familiar faces. In episode three, Ouverture of Something That Never Ended, the film starred Harry Styles. Styles, is not only known his music but also for his gender-fluid approach to fashion. The pop star made a cameo wearing a pink Gucci tee tucked into eco denim washed shorts. “When it comes to making art it’s about finding the thing you’ve always wanted to see that has never been made,” Styles says in the film while talking on a phone call. “It’s always an uncomfortable moment, I think, when you find the thing. You don’t know if you love it or hate it because you don’t really know what it is yet. But I think that’s the most exciting place to work in.”

The fashionable miniseries also includes stars such as Florence Welch (of the band, Florence and the Machine) in a vintage shop setting, as well as Billie Eilish (needs no explanation) walking her pet robot dog. The star of the miniseries, Italian actress Silvia Calderoni, is filmed throughout the empty ancient streets of Rome, all decked out in Gucci from head-to-toe.

As for the looks, they were Michele’s maximist aesthetic to the max. The collection had plenty of vibrant festive looks that ranged from a sequin pink and green zig-zag pattern pant paired with a purple sequin top and green bed-jacket; a purple pantsuit with gold embroidery; sheer lace lingerie inspired pieces; and plenty of beastly fur outerwear. For day, Michele featured a capsule of casual looks such as a blue athletic suit with the Gucci stripe running down the side; logo athletic t-shirts; flared denim pants; and plenty of denim shorts. The creative director also showed plenty of his vintage, ‘70s inspired looks with floral dresses; bow blouses; and geometric print coats.

Kudos to Michele for presenting his collection in such a creative, attention grabbing way.

CHANEL

(Video credit: Chanel)

As the old saying goes, “The show must go on!” And so Chanel filmed it’s pre-fall 2021 show at the Château de Chenonceau with a cast and crew of 300 and precisely one VIP guest: Kristen Stewart.

The Château de Chenonceau, is one of the jewels of France’s Loire Valley. The castle belonged to Catherine de’ Medici, the Italian-born, former queen of France, and throughout the grand estate you can find interlocking Cs, which were the Queen’s initials, but today, they look incredibly similar to the Chanel logo. The grand estate is also known as the Ladies’ Château, according to WWD, “Chenonceau has a history marked by a succession of powerful women, of which the Renaissance rulers, in particular, inspired the label’s founder, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. That the French fashion house chose to stage its Métiers d’Art collection there is therefore something of a full-circle moment.”

The iconic house had hoped to invite approximately 200 guests to creative director Virginie Viard’s first fashion show outside of Paris, but due to a second lockdown in France, the brand was forced to revise its plans. So aside from the cast and crew, the show had only one guest, Kristen Stuart who will be featured in ads for the collection photographed by Juergen Teller.

As for Viard’s pre-fall collection for Chanel, she was inspired by many aspects of the 16th century castle. Lining the infamous chateau are beautiful gardens created by King Henry II’s mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Viard channeled the parterre designs of the garden and the delicate flowers as she reinterpreted the feminine motifs into rich embroideries. It was “a sophisticated take on a “Disney” Viard stated in an interview with WWD.

The creative director was also mesmerized by the chateau’s black and white checkerboard floors, which was a reoccurring print theme throughout the collection as Viard applied the motif to chessboard sequin miniskirts to fringe tweed maxi skirts. Overall, the collection had a Goth princess aesthetic with dramatic capes, poet blouses, and plenty of transparent black dresses.

Viard also played tribute to Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld with her own playful interpretation of trompe l’oeil looks, with reimagines of the castle in Lego-like sequin bricks, used as cummerbund sashes that cinch the waists of full satin ball skirts and strapless gowns. The chateau’s tapestries also inspired Viard’s intarsia knit and embroidered sweaters. While the collection at times veered towards costume, there were still plenty of signature tweed jackets that the Chanel customers crave.

CHRISTIAN DIOR

(Video credit: Christian Dior)

 

Living in lockdown has been hard on all of us. Even the most fashionable influencers have photographed themselves in sweats and furry slippers. The spring collections were even filled with leisure-inspired looks that we all craved while many of us work from home, but Maria Grazia Chiuri, the creative director of Christian Dior, has had enough. For her pre-fall collection, Chiuri created her most animated collection to date. In an interview with Vogue Runway, the creative director states, “Now, we desire something that gives us energy. Something completely different.”

“After this year—so intense, so depressing—I would like to come back to the fashion that started my career: the playfulness that attracted me and my generation to fashion, and transform the Dior codes through this attitude,” she said. For Chiuri, a child of the 1970s, those roads had to lead to Elio Fiorucci. “My generation was super influenced by pop culture,” Chiuri recalled in the Vogue Runway interview. “At Fiorucci we saw another way of fashion. It was probably the moment that fashion was born in Italy, because we left our traditional clothes to go to this toy store and discover clothes we’d never seen in our life: different materials, and clothes from around the world.”

Inspired by Pop Art, Chiuri created an uncharacteristically colorful collection that was lighthearted and fun. The cheeky collection was filled with unapologetically fun pieces: a leopard coat; a silver jumpsuit; mirrored sequined party dresses; logo transparent raincoats; bold check mini skirt suits; and a humorous T Rex print that was found on everything from dresses to tote bags. In her atelier, Chiuri said, “We decided that when this is all over, we’re each going to choose a different color dress and have a big party. That’s the dream: to dance together.”

Let the festivities begin!

CAROLINA HERRERA

Carolina Herrera’s Pre-Fall 2021 Collection. (Image credit: Carolina Herrera)

It was only two months ago that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris wore a white pantsuit from Carolina Herrera for her acceptance speech. Harris chose white as a tribute to the woman’s suffrage movement and her Carolina Herrera suit will be forever be synonymous with Harris’ ceiling-shattering moment.

For pre-fall, Carolina Herrera’s creative director, Wes Gordon, emphasized the more playful side of the brand’s aesthetic. Gordon hopes that by the time the collection hits stores (between May and June) the world will be on a clear path to vaccination.

Inspired by Mia Farrow, circa Rosemary’s Baby, there was a nod to the swinging sixties with black and white zebra prints, polka dot patterns. in an assortment of sizes and colors, as well as the houses signature bow motifs. The collection was joyful and energetic with looks that ran the gamut from brightly hued ballgown skirts to multi-colored dotted shirtdresses.

Gordon struck the perfect balance between youthful and sophistication.

OSCAR DE LA RENTA

Oscar de la Renta’s Pre-Fall 2021 Collection. (Image credit: Oscar de la Renta)

Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia’s collection for Oscar de la Renta was a joie de vivre celebration. The optimistic collection was filled with vibrant colors, fruity prints, and plenty of skin.

The design duo dug into the house’s archives and were inspired by a pineapple motif worn by Linda Evangelista in a 1992 Oscar collection; they were looking for something happy and light after this dark pandemic year we’re all living through. The pineapple pattern was found on several looks ranging from a block print on a simple green shift to a life-like color on a bandeau top with pouf sleeves. Other key looks included an array of brightly colored shorts, short day dresses, playful striped rompers, and a few strapless cocktail confections.

Garcia joked in an interview with Vogue Runway, “Piña coladas all day long.”

So tell us, how optimistic are you feeling in your fashion choices for 2021?

GAMECHANGERS: THE RISE OF FASHION VIDEO GAMES

 

Ralph Lauren collaborates with Snapchat. (Photo Credit: Ralph Lauren)

With the holidays just around the corner and our festivities limited to “home pod” celebrations and Zoom events, one thing is for certain, this was a year like no other. As we witnessed a global pandemic, an unprecedented number of deaths, a world in lockdown and a toppling of the world economy, we somehow managed to remain hopeful. With the rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine, we just need to have more patience. This year we learned to appreciate our families, health-care workers and first responders. We also learned that wearing a mask shows you care.

Face Masks have become the most popular accessory of 2020. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Despite the pandemic, this was a year of creativity. Fashion designers went into full scale production of masks and PPE, schools migrated to remote learning, parents threw drive-by celebrations for their kids’ birthdays, schools threw virtual proms and graduations for their seniors and families organized Thanksgiving  Zoom-ebrations.

The fashion industry, once a bastion of tradition, became exceptionally creative as a result of the pandemic, when it came to fashion week. Some brands held virtual audience-less fashion shows, some created short videos and others found artistic ways to shoot their lookbooks.

And now, one of the most inventive ways a designer can showcase their collection is the video game platform. If you are a fervent reader of the UoF blog, you will remember that on April 6th   we predicted this as an innovative way for brands to connect with their customers (Demna Gvasalia, were you listening?)  Here’s the link for reference:

https://www.universityoffashion.com/blog/fashion-computer-game/

BALENCIAGA

On Dec. 6th the video game “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow” (set in the year 2031) was launched featuring Demna Gvasalia’s main collection for Balenciaga’s fall 2021 season. Enter the world of fashion-tainment!

According to WWD, the allegorical adventure features environments and characters using cutting-edge photogrammetry and the most advanced technology for game hosting, according to the Paris-based fashion house, noting that “Afterworld sets a record for the largest volumetric video project ever undertaken.” For those of us new to digital jargon, photogrammetry is “the science and technology of obtaining reliable information about physical objects and the environment through the process of recording, measuring and interpreting photographic images and patterns of electromagnetic radiant imagery and other phenomena.

Like many designers, Gvasalia must surely miss the excitement of a live runway show, but honestly, the pandemic didn’t stop him from presenting his fashion-forward collection in an avant-garde way. For Paris Fashion Week Spring 2021, Gvasalia was highly praised for his fashion film set to Corey Hart’s “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night,” which showcased Balenciaga’s summer pre-collection with models dashing through rain-slicked Paris streets after dark.

Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow

What better timing to launch a new computer game than the holidays, during a pandemic, with a stay-at-home order in place! Brilliant marketing, no?

So here’s how it works:

“A hero avatar advances throughout distinct zones, motivated by tasks and interactions,” the house said, sharing details of the online game first with WWD. “The narrative of ‘Afterworld’ is anchored to mythological pasts and projected futures with timeless archetypes and speculative imagery.”

Balenciaga’s pre-collection is futuristic and is inspired by what fashion might be like in 2031 in a conceptual way, and the idea carries over into what’s displayed in the video game.

“A theme of Balenciaga fall 2021 is human destiny, as seen by an interactive, gamified journey,” the house said. “The world may appear to be decaying at first, but it is far from a dystopian view, showing instead the slow return to a healthier balance of nature and industry.”

If you’re a true gamer with quick skills and can beat the game, the reward is “A real-life breathing exercise set in a virtual utopia. In the end, the hero has finally becomes (as it is referred to in Hero’s Journey analysis) a ‘Master of  Two Worlds’,” Balenciaga told WWD, apparently alluding to studies of archetypal heroes by the late American academic Joseph Campbell.

Gvasalia has been breaking the traditional fashion industry rules and they seem to be working to his advantage. Last September the designer revealed that he would show Balenciaga’s pre-collections during Paris Fashion Week, and his main collections for the house in June and December, reversing his previous show order.  The unconventional designer also stated in past interviews that he wishes to break away from the hamster wheel of doing runway shows every season; although he hasn’t ruled out runway shows in the future. Gvasalia is already planning to stage a show next July for Balenciaga’s much anticipated return to haute couture.

Demna Gvasalia, the Creative Director for Balenciaga. (Photo Credit: WWD)

“Fashion has become such a checklist. And I feel like I personally want to try to do it differently,” Gvasalia said in an interview with WWD.

 

OTHER FASHION COMPUTER GAMES

Balenciaga’s timing to release an online video game comes at a pinnacle time in the crossover between gaming and fashion, a relationship that has been progressively developing.

Animal Crossings designer collaborations. (Left) Looks from Valentino. (Right) Looks from Marc Jacobs. (Photo Credit: AllGamers HyperX)

Since lockdowns began, fashion lovers have been playing Animal Crossing, a Nintendo-created game (launched in 2001), but since May, designer brands such as Marc Jacobs and Valentino have created “New Horizons” looks and the game’s popularity took off.  Suddenly, the Nintendo Switch and Switch Light, the game system to play Animal Crossings on, were on everyone’s wish list and they became hard to find. Even Instagram accounts like Animal Crossing Fashion Archive, Nook street Market, and Animalcrossfits became a craze. 2020 has brought in a new area in fashion and gaming, and it’s so much more than just picking out your favorite color for a character’s t-shirt.

Across the board, luxury fashion houses are collaborating with the video game industry, as this promises to be the future of marketing and retail as Generation Z and Alpha are incredibly tech driven.

Gucci unveiled a series of new app features including the Arcade App, inviting customers to play with popular house motifs and characters, plus AR technology allowing them to virtually “try on” sneakers and watches. The Italian luxury brand also launched a collaboration with The Sims and a tennis-themed outfit game, Tennis Clash.

K slash DA in Louis Vuitton. (Photo Credit Louis Vuitton)

Louis Vuitton launched its League of Legends capsule collection last year, in partnership with Riot Games. Meanwhile, Burberry collaborated with Snapchat and created Animal Kingdom, an in-store gamified experience in which Snapcodes transport shoppers to a Burberry world. Snapchat also teamed up with Ralph Lauren to create virtual clothing for personal Bitmojis.

“With confinement, we started the year 2020 to wake up into 2025,” describes Christian Louboutin of such acceleration in an interview with Nylon magazine. “I’m not a gamer myself — I can barely switch on the TV — but I’ve observed in the last few years more and more people, especially at the airport or in planes, playing on their phones.” Just this past October, the footwear designer presented his Spring 2021 collection via the app Zepeto, enabling users to create personal avatars and discover his latest creations.

In an interview with Nylon magazine, “Our social lives are now predominantly playing out online. Therefore, our main channel to present ourselves and shape out identity is digital,” says Rachael Stott, futures analyst at strategic foresight consultancy the Future Laboratory, which estimates that when it comes to in-game spending, U.S. gamers each spend on average $229 on digital purchases. For comparison’s sake, the new stand alone XBox Series X and Sony PlayStation 5 both retail for $499, while the Oculus Quest 2 all-in-one virtual reality headset retails for $399.

According to the trend forecasting agency WGSN, gaming has an estimated global reach of 2.7 billion; and ‘skins’, virtual items that change the look of a character, accounted for 80% of the $120 billion spent on digital games in 2019.

“Fashion working with gaming is kind of the next obvious step in the evolution of fashion,” says Erin Wayne, head of community and creator marketing at Twitch (in an interview with Nylon magazine). The live-streaming platform launched in 2011, now boasts 26.5 million daily visitors. In September, Burberry became the first luxury fashion label to partner with the service and stream its Spring 2021 show, and in July, the UK-based university Ravensbourne streamed its graduating fashion students’ collections, which had been presented via a digital avatar project.

“Gen Zers are digital natives. They don’t want content pushed at them,” says Adam Harris, global head of brand partnership studio at Twitch. On Twitch, you can find anything from cats sleeping to ASMR to gaming to chatting. Teens today will seek out the content they are interested in, case in point, Fortnite’s Travis Scott spectacular in April: 12 million players logged into the concert. Meanwhile, Lil Nas X’s recent stint on gaming platform Roblox drew 33 million views.

“Fashion brands are primarily infiltrating gaming as a marketing tool,” points out Stott. With doors to physical stores shuttered, gaming devices have the potential to build communities. “Spending hours crafting a digital replica to show your peers currently makes sense,” she says.

The Puma X Tabitha Simmons Collection on Drest. (Photo Credit: Drest)

There are a handful of other fashion video games as well. “Drest” an interactive styling game, that was launched towards the end on 2019 now carries over 200 brands. The video game was founded by Lucy Yeomans, a former magazine editor-in-chief of Net-a-Porter and editor of the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar in the UK. Another popular fashion game is DressX, which was founded by Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova. They are a retail platform for digital fashion, carrying over 30 brands, mostly URL only, some IRL, too, sell between $25 and $200. It’s like digital couture.

“Gaming is starting to become such a cultural force. Our mission is to become one of those brands like the Dickies [of the world] or whoever was at the beginning of that culture,” Simon Brown, product director of Fnatic says in an interview with Nylon.

 

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A NEW ERA FILLED WITH HOPE, UNITY, AND OF COURSE FASHION

From left, Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Harris, President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden on stage together, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Photo Credit: AP)

Saturday, November 7th was an historical day in the United States. Not only did the country elect former Vice President Joe Biden to be our 46th President, but we also elected our first female, first Black and first South Asian Veep, Kamala Harris.

President-elect Joe Biden, delivered a message of hope, unity and possibility, during his victory speech in Wilmington, Delaware. Joe wore a navy suit and light blue tie, assuring that he will be a president who, in his own words, “seeks not to divide but to unify.” He told the crowd of supporters, “Let us be the nation we know we can be. A nation united, a nation strengthened, a nation healed. There’s never anything we’ve tried we’ve not been able to do.”

Kam & Joe rocking pantsuits and Joe’s signature ‘American flag’ socks. (Credit: People Instagram)

HERE COMES THE FASHION

Although this blogpost will mainly focus on Dr. Jill Biden and Kamala Harris, we thought we’d provide a teaser on Joe Biden’s sartorial choices (stay tuned for our next post on Biden Style in depth).

According to L.A. bespoke tailor Fresh (tailor to music icon, Weekend and other celebs), when asked about the difference between a Trump suit (Brioni, $3,000 loose and oversized) and Biden’s suits (Delaware’s Wright & Simon custom made ($795) and Hickey Freeman’s ($1500) Rich Fresh said, “The first thing to look at is the shoulder. Biden’s suit sits right on the shoulder, which allows the chest to sit right, the sleeve to fall beautifully. Biden’s pant break sits right at the top of his shoe. Even though he’s moving and walking, you can still see it hits right at the top. He’s not showing his whole sock off, he’s not trying to look super cool or like a teen, the whole leg fits great.” Oh, and speaking of socks…let’s not forget Joe’s signature ‘American flag’ socks and his cool pocket squares! The new men’s trend?

DR. JILL STYLE

Harris was not the only one who made a bold sartorial statement that night. Our incoming First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, chose a chic navy floral vine dress with an asymmetric hemline, created by Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, the designer duo behind the Oscar de la Renta label. Dr. Jill  paired her dress with coral kitten heels, minimal jewelry, and the accessory of 2020, a simple face mask. On Instagram, the Oscar de la Renta company posted a picture of the first couple-elect to their 4.8 million followers. “Today we congratulate our President-elect Joe Biden and the [future] first lady Jill Biden.”

President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In an interview with WWD, Oscar de la Renta’s chief executive officer Alex Bolen said, “We’ve been fans of Dr. Jill Biden’s for many years and have had the privilege of working with her in the past. Oscar adored the opportunity to work with accomplished women, finding role models such as [former] Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton, Mrs. [Laura] Bush and Dr. Biden particularly inspiring.”

“Like Oscar, Laura [Kim] and Fernando [Garcia] relish the challenge of helping women lead their lives — especially if those lives take place on the world stage — with a tremendous sense of confidence,“ said Bolen. He also congratulated the Bidens’ and Senator Harris, on behalf of the design duo, himself and his wife Eliza, the company’s executive vice president. “We wish them every success.” 

The late Oscar de la Renta, who passed away in 2014, dressed many first ladies (from both parties) in his lifetime, from Laura Bush to Hillary Clinton.

To see more of Dr. Jill’s fashion choices while Second Lady, follow this link https://www.huffpost.com/entry/jill-biden-style_l_5f7c91c7c5b6e5aba0d0b135

Designers are betting that the first lady-elect will help rev-up the American fashion industry, when she steps out and onto the international stage. Rumors are already circulating as to ‘who’ will she choose to wear for the inauguration ceremony? And those of us in the industry know how much of a BIG DEAL that is for the lucky designer!

Like her husband, Dr. Biden is known to support local shops. She asks about prices and considers her purchases in her home city of Wilmington, Delaware. But like many first ladies before her, Dr. Biden’s style decisions have begun to change (her Oscar de la Renta dress was a hefty $5,690). Mostly known for choosing classic looks from smaller, contemporary labels, within the past few months she has shifted to wearing powerhouse designers, such as Ralph Lauren, Christian Siriano and Brandon Maxwell.

Organizations like the National Retail Federation are also optimistic about the future under the Biden administration. According to WWD, the group issued a statement on Saturday, congratulating Biden and Harris and pledging to work with the new administration: “As the largest private-sector employer in the country, the retail industry looks forward to continuing our tradition of working with presidents and their administrations of both major political parties to advance the industry’s priorities in job creation, economic development and career opportunities for millions of Americans. We congratulate president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris on a hard-fought victory,” said National Retail Federation president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay.

“Throughout this year’s extraordinary circumstances, retailers have shown their resilience and adaptability and will continue to ensure the safety and well-being of our customers, the communities we serve, and the 52 million working Americans supported by the retail industry as we enter a busy holiday season,” he added.

OUR INCOMING FIRST LADY’S SIGNATURE LOOK

Dr. Jill will be unlike any other first lady before her. For the first time in U.S. history, this first lady will hold a job outside of the White House and will continue her work as an English professor at Northern Virginia community college.

Jill Biden wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress and matching mask for the final presidential debate. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

While President-elect Joe Biden talks about bringing the country back together in unity, his wife Jill’s sartorial choices back up that rhetoric. Her fashion choices reflect a softer, gentle tone that has been missing from the White House. Unlike Melania Trump who is known for wearing austere, minimalistic, utilitarian fashions (who can ever forget her “I really don’t care, do you”?  jacket and the Alexander McQueen army green military suit she wore to the Republican National Convention)? Dr. Jill dresses at the opposite end of the spectrum, as she prefers feminine silhouettes, bold patterns, and rich, deep jewel tones. The one thing she does share with Melania is a love of statement heels. Dr. Jill has rocked Valentino heels and Stuart Weitzman ‘Vote’ knee-high boots — but unlike Melania, Dr. Jill has worn them for state events, not for humanitarian relief efforts.

Also, unlike Melania Trump and Michelle Obama before her, Dr. Jill’s sartorial looks have been low key and much more representative of how American women actually dress. The incoming first lady’s aesthetic has been understated, elegant, and at times preppy. She tends to favor flattering shift dresses and wrap dresses in bold hues, and with just a quick change of her shoes, these looks are perfect transition pieces for a day in the classroom to an evening at a political event for her husband.

Jill Biden wearing Alexandra Posen’s VOTE mask while campaigning in Texas. (Photo Credit: AP)Only time will tell if Dr. Biden will continue playing it safe with her fashion choices once she is in the White House and whether Kamala will stick to wearing only suits, but one thing is for sure, American designers are lining up. Young designers especially are hoping that they’ll be given a chance to shine just as Michelle Obama did for so many during the 8 years she was in the White House. We are all hoping that both Dr. Jill will Kamala will throw their muscle behind sustainable brands. Something tells us they will. Keep your eye on this space.

We thought it would be fun to make some sartorial recommendations for Dr. Jill:

A look from Rodarte’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Rodarte)

A look from Lila Rose’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Lela Rose)

 

A look from Carolina Herrera’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Carolina Herrera)

 

A look from Ulla Johnson’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Ulla Johnson)

 

A look from Thakoon’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Thakoon)

 

A look from Brock Collection’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Brock Collection)

 

A look from Altuzarra’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Altuzarra)

 

A look from Nili Lotan’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Nili Lotan)

KAM STYLE

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also took the stage on November 7th, and emphasized the promise of America in her speech. She wore an ivory-colored Carolina Herrera pantsuit and a silk bow blouse accessorized with an American flag lapel pin. Kamala, known as Momala by her step children, spoke positively about what the future may hold and encouraged children to imagine themselves in ways that others might not yet recognize as achievable. The VP-elect also credited all of the women who went before her, “I stand on their shoulders,” she said of those who fought for voting rights at the beginning of the 20th century, and of the “new generation” that had exercised those rights last week.

The color white has long been associated with the women’s suffrage movement, adopted as a symbol of moral purity alongside green for hope and purple for dignity. The hue also signified their ethos of nonviolence, an olive branch to those threatened by their then-radical calls for political equality.

While the ivory Carolina Herrera suit that Kamala Harris wore to address the nation on November 7th was one of her best sartorial choices to date, we are secretly hoping that Harris will take a more fashionable approach. As the first female to ever hold such an important role, it has to be hard for her when making fashion choices. That’s why the Power Suit is the safest way to go! Or is it?

On the campaign trail, Harris stuck to her uniform of polished pantsuits and her favorite accessory – pearls, but while the traditional attire for female politicians can be a bit bland (think Hillary and her pantsuits), we would love to see Harris take a bolder approach to power dressing.

The VP-elect hails from California, so her laid back sensibility comes through in her sartorial choices. When the Senator stepped off a plane to assess the damages of the wildfires in Fresno, California, she wore a simple olive jacket, jeans, a white t-shirt and Timberland boots – American women everywhere connected to her, because this is how American women dress!

Kamala Harris’s love of Converse sneakers. (Photo Credit: Elle)

Kamala’s sartorial choices so far have revolved around Converse sneakers and have gained plenty of traction with younger voters. For Harris, fashion does not define who she is, its her fearless approach to politics and policies that define her.

To help get Kamala out of her pantsuit rut, we are suggesting a few day looks from the spring 2021 collections that we think would look fabulous on her:

A look from Christopher John Rogers’ Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers)

 

A look from Michael Kors’ Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Michael Kors)

 

A look from Gabriela Hearst’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Gabriela Hearst)

 

A look from Altuzarra’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Altuzarra)

 

A look from St. John’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of St. John)

 

A look from Adam Lippes’ Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Adam Lippes)

 

A look from Khaite’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Khaite)

 

A look from Tory Burch’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Tory Burch)

SO TELL US, WHAT LOOKS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ON OUR INCOMING FIRST LADY DR. JILL BIDEN AND VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT KAMALA HARRIS?