If you are a fervent fashion follower like me, then you know that extreme super sleeves have been trending since 2018 and at each of the recent 2020 fashion week shows.
This reminded me that in our pattern drafting archives, we feature how to draft several of these gems, like the Leg o’ Mutton, the Extended 2-piece, the Princess Puff Short Sleeve, the Darted & Extended Sleeve Cap, and several others like the petal, the bell, the bishop, the short puff and short flare. Click on the links to catch a preview of our newest sleeve lessons and how each sleeve is drafted.
HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF THE PUFF SLEEVE
If you follow my blog and social media channels then you know that I absolutely love fashion history, which is why I am always happy to provide insight and background whenever I can about a particular fashion trend, detail or event. In fact, my book, the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, Second Edition, is a treasure trove of info if you love reading about the history of our industry. I invite you to check it out.
History has taught us that fashion cycles come and go. Skirt hems rise and fall, pants go from skinny to full, silhouettes from fitted to sack, and frilly looks to androgynous.
Today’s fashion cycle is bringing back the ‘shoulder’. What better way to do it, other than with shoulder pads, is with the puff sleeve!
Thinking about how the puff sleeve and the broad shoulder gained popularity over time, I decided to explore it’s rise and fall throughout history, beginning in the Renaissance.
With the rise of culture, style, art and architecture developed during the Renaissance, the sleeve became a prominent fashion statement. Fun fact: did you know that dresses in the Renaissance consisted of detachable sleeves that were given by the groom to their new wife? And that sleeves were also be passed down from mother to daughter, aunt to niece, or even be rented?
Italian artist Agnolo Bronzino – A Young Woman and Her Little Boy, circa 1540
Elizabethan Era 1558-1603
Inspired by the very stylish Queen Victoria, a variety of puffed sleeve styles dominated fashion during her reign and continued on and off, inspiring trend cycles for years to come.
Elizabeth I Armada Portrait
Victorian Era 1837-1900
Typical of the middle 1890s was the puff and the ‘leg o’ mutton’ sleeve (named because it resembled a mutton leg). Dresses included tight bodices and back bustles.
Victorian Era (Source: flickr.com)
Edwardian Era 1890 – 1914
The Edwardian era revolved around the ‘S’ curve, where corsets created an S-shaped female silhouette. This was a change from the Victorian hourglass figure, but with more lavish sleeves, as depicted below, which were interlined with layers of organza to help keep their shape.
1894 from La Mode Illustree (Source: histporicalswewing.com)
Suffragette/Abolitionist Susan B. Anthony circa 1900 (Source: crfashionbook.com)
1930s & 1940s
The 1930s saw a departure from the body-skimming silhouettes of the 20s. Gilbert Adrian, designer to the stars, brought back huge puff sleeves in the 30s and broad-shouldered suits for women in the 40s.
Joan Crawford, “Letty Lynton” 1932. Laura Loveday. (Source: Flickr.com)
Gilbert Adrian 1940 (Source: Pinterest)
Fast forward to the 1980s when the shoulder once again took center stage. One of the best examples was Princess Diana’s famous wedding dress and its leg o’ mutton sleeves. And, in ‘88 when Lagerfeld (for Chanel’) created a new take on the puff sleeve by dropping the shoulder.
Wedding of Princess Diana to Charles Prince of Wales July 29, 1981
Chanel 1988 (Source: Getty Images for crfashionbook.com)
Decades worth of body conscious fashion would dominate before we would see the rebirth of the puff sleeve, however, this time in the form of Steampunk, which was basically a re-interpretation of Victorian fashion.
Steampunk puff sleeve look by Atomic Jane Clothing
2018 – 2020
The latest sightings of puff sleeves to enter the fashion cycle began in 2018, and ever since designers have been flirting with them. However, this season they went full boar and they’ve been reimagined in some of the newest and most voluminous versions.
Miu Miu Fall 2020; Alexander McQueen Fall 2020; Fendi Fall 2020; Paco Rabanne Fall 2020; Gabriela Hearst Fall 2020; Rodarte Fall 2020 (Source: GoRunway.com)
The timing is perfect, since no one has had this trend in their closet for decades. And so, it’s the perfect ‘bait’ to lure all fashionistas into the stores. Or, better yet, view our sleeve tutorials and make your own extreme-sleeved garment!
Come on…aren’t you sick and tired of living in your athleisurewear since the pandemic began?
Every first Monday in May, fashion designers, celebrities and fashion insiders gather to celebrate the fashion event of the year, the Met Gala. Formally called The Costume Institute Gala or The Costume Institute Benefit, it’s also known as the Met Ball. The event is the Met’s annual fundraising gala to benefit their Costume Institute, which boasts a collection of thirty-three thousand objects, representing seven centuries of fashionable dress and accessories for men, women, and children from the fifteenth century to the present. The Met Gala is considered to be the fashion industry’s premier red carpet event, equivalent to the Oscars.
This year however, due to Covid-19, the Met Gala was cancelled and the exhibition was postponed until October, since museums in NYC were closed on March 13th and only opened as of August 29th. Such a shame, especially since 2020 is the year that the Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrates its 150th anniversary. Though we won’t get to oggle, oggle and gawk as celebs climb the Met steps dressed in outrageous outfits, we will get to view this year’s exhibition entitled, About Time: Fashion and Duration when it opens its doors to the public on October 29, 2020 – February 7, 2021.
Before we give you a sneak peek at the exhibition, we thought it would be fun to look at the history of the Met Gala, the people involved in its evolution and how the Met has turned a museum benefit into BIG BUSINESS.
WHAT IS THE MET GALA
The Metropolitan Museum of Art located on Fifth Ave. in New York City. (Photo: Courtesy of The Met)
One of the first questions everyone wants to know is, “who chooses the theme for The Costume Institute’s big exhibition and how far in advance is it planned?
Answer: Head curator Andrew Bolton and his 32 person team research potential themes years in advance though an effort is made to reflect the cultural sensibilities of the times. Once Bolton and his team are happy with a particular theme, they present it to the museum’s director and president for approval and of course to Anna Wintour. Wintour has chaired and co-hosted the event since 1995. The hands-on curation of the show starts as soon as the Met’s spring show opens, giving the team 12 months to make the magic happen all over again.
THE HISTORY OF THE MET GALA
Fashion’s First Lady, Eleanor Lambert. (Photo: Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal)
It all started in 1948 when fashion publicist extraordinaire, Eleanor Lambert (referred to as the first lady of fashion), established the Met Gala as a way to raise money and awareness for the newly-founded Costume Institute. The gala however, was not always the grand event that it is today. For the first few decades, the gala was simply one of many annual benefits held for New York charitable institutions and the attendees of the early galas were almost entirely members of New York high society and the city’s fashion industry. In fact, the very first gala was a midnight dinner with tickets priced at only fifty dollars! In addition, from 1948 to 1971, the event was not held at the Met, as it is today, but at various venues including the Waldorf-Astoria, Central Park, and the Rainbow Room.
Diana Vreeland, the former editor in chief of Vogue, who revolutionized fashion magazines. (Photo: Courtesy of CR Fashion Book)
In 1973, Diana Vreeland, former Vogue Editor-in-Chief, joined the Met as Special Consultant to The Costume Institute. Vreeland turned the Gala into a glamorous affair, although one that was still aimed at the societal set. Under the fashion icon’s tenure, the event became more celebrity-oriented with attendees like Elizabeth Taylor, Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger, Diana Ross, Elton John, Liza Minnelli and Cher intermixing with the city’s elite. Thanks to Vreeland’s dramatic flair, themes for the event were introduced, beginning with the very first of her legendary exhibitions, The World of Balenciaga. The Costume Institute’s collections swelled with donors’ gifts during Vreeland’s brilliant tenure and her most precious legacy is undoubtedly, the public’s sustained interest in costume and the large audiences that are now attracted to the field.
Anna Wintour at the 2019 Met Gala. (Photo Credit: POPSUGAR)
In 1995, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour was named chairwoman of the Gala event (excluding 1996 and 1998). Wintour and her staff, oversee both the benefit committee and the guest list of approximately 700 attendees. According to The New York Times, tickets to the event in 2019 were a whopping $35,000 apiece and tables ranged from $200,000 to $300,000, quite a jump from 1948’s dinner ticket of $50 a piece!
Pre-Covid, the Gala evening consisted of a red-carpet photo opportunity, a cocktail hour and a formal dinner. During the cocktail hour, guests would tour the exhibition before being seated for dinner and entertainment. The theme of the event not only set the tone for the exhibition, but also provided an opportunity for the guests to dress in a way that upheld the exhibition’s theme.
ABOUT TIME: FASHION AND DURATION
A poster of the exhibit. (Left) A dress by Iris Van Herpen from the designers fall 2012–13 haute couture collection. (Right) Ball Gown by Charles James, created in 1951. (Photo Credit: Nicholas Alan Cope)
This year’s exhibit, About Time: Fashion and Duration, was inspired by Virginia Woolf (one of the most important modernist 20th century authors and pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device) and 20th-century French philosopher Henri Bergson (known for his idea of time as la durée, or duration, something which can be measured through images but never perceived as a whole). The exhibit looks back at the timeline of women’s fashion from the last 150 years (dating from 1870 to today), which coincides with the Met’s 150th anniversary. Woolf serves as the “ghost narrator” of the exhibit.
“Fashion is indelibly connected to time, it not only reflects and represents the spirit of the times, but it also changes and develops with the times,” Andrew Bolton, head curator of The Costume Institute, told The New York Times.
Had the Met Gala taken place in May, the co-chairs of the event would have been Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Nicolas Ghesquière of Louis Vuitton (the brand was to serve as a sponsor for the event). It would have marked the first ever Met Gala attendance for Streep.
In February of 2020, Nicolas Ghesquière and Andrew Bolton revealed details of the time-themed exhibition at a news conference before the global pandemic shut down the world. Keeping the 150th anniversary of The Met in mind, they shared that the exhibition would be designed as a clock, constructed by two sets of 60 fashion pieces that signify sartorial moments since 1870 (the year the museum was founded). The first set of garments, a collection in all-black, would tell time linearly. The second set, which would include black-and-white pieces, would tell time in an “alternative timeline” or “interruptions,” per WWD.
“We didn’t want to present them as a straightforward masterworks exhibition, a kind of simplistic overview of styles or an expected A-Z of fashion designers,” said Bolton. “I think fashion history has moved on from this rather reductive approach, and so too, I think, has our fashion audience.”
Looks from About Time: Fashion and Duration. (Photo: Courtesy of The Met)
The exhibition factors in topical issues as well, namely that of “digital capitalism.” Bolton explained, “While companies have benefited from this sped-up, around-the-clock temporality of digital capitalism, designers have often been creatively constrained by its 24/7 continuous functioning, so we thought it might be an opportune moment to explore the temporal character of fashion from a historical perspective.”
The Costume Institute also created a video, lasting nearly 12 minutes. The virtual tour follows the intended format for the exhibition, by showing historical and contemporary designs, side-by-side to reveal similarities. Images of the dresses – which were taken from The Costume Institute’s collection – are shown with the year they were created and details of the designer or era, to gradually explore fashion from 1870 (the year the Met was founded) to the present day. Case in point, a look from Morin Blossier from 1902, next to a 2018 look from Nicolas Ghesquiere for Louis Vuitton.
Throughout the black-and-white movie illustrations of pared-back clock faces, alludes to the exhibit’s time-traveling theme. The moving images are also interspersed with quotations from novels by English writer Virginia Woolf, such as Mrs Dalloway and Orlando. Woolf, who died in 1941, serves as the exhibition’s “ghost narrator.”
(Left) Vintage riding jacket (Right) a jacket from Junya Watanabe. (Photo: Courtesy of The Met)
According to the Met’s press release about the show, the timeline will unfold in two adjacent galleries fabricated as enormous clock faces (the set was designed by Es Devlin) and organized around the principle of 60 minutes of fashion. Each ‘minute’ will feature a pair of garments, with the primary work representing the linear nature of fashion and the secondary work its cyclical character. To illustrate French philosopher Henri Bergson’s concept of duration—of the past co-existing with the present—the works in each pair will be connected through shape, motif, material, pattern, technique, or decoration. For example, a black silk faille princess-line dress from the late 1870s is paired with an Alexander McQueen “Bumster” skirt from 1995. A black silk satin dress with enormous leg o’mutton sleeves from the mid-1890s will be juxtaposed with a Comme des Garçons deconstructed ensemble from 2004.
As we all know, the world has changed dramatically from February to today. So, Bolton spent the last few months tweaking and making changes to the exhibit. In an exclusive interview with Vogue’s Hamish Bowles, Bolton spoke about his process of reflection and re-curation. “I wanted to stage an exhibition that was a meditation on fashion and temporality—drawing out the tensions between change and endurance, transience and permanence, ephemerality and persistence. Originally the idea was to create two timelines: a linear chronology of fashion from 1870 to 2020, celebrating the Met’s 150th anniversary and focusing on the fleeting and fugitive rhythm of fashion. The second timeline—the “interventions”—would represent a series of nonsequential counterchronologies, like knots or folds in time, exploring the interconnectedness of history, the past, and the present.”
The linear timeline focused on all black silhouettes, while the cyclical timeline focused on white. But Bolton felt limited by the curation, so the curator decided to change the exhibit and only present black silhouettes to make the presentation stronger and making the comparisons between the pairings easy to identify.
(Left) A gigot-sleeved raincoat from 1895. Photo Courtesy of The Met. (Right) J.W. Anderson’s fall 2020 collection. (Photo Credit: Gorunway.com)
Another issue Bolton was able to address was his desire to include more designers who weren’t so well known throughout fashion history. So he paired a Frederick Loeser & Co. riding habit circa 1897 with a Victor Joris suit from 1968 that Baby Jane Holzer had donated to The Costume Institute. Victor Joris served as an assistant to both Dior and Balmain before launching his own collection.
But the bigger change to the curation was really a direct response to Black Lives Matter. When Bolton first worked on the curation, he wasn’t focused on issues of race and ethnicity or gender and sexuality. In the interview Bolton stated:
“It was purely aesthetic: I was looking at changes in silhouettes from 1870 through to the present and creating the strongest juxtapositions with the “interventions.” But with the social-justice movements of this spring and summer, I looked at the curation and knew I wanted to include more Black, indigenous, people-of-color designers. BLM has made me reflect on fashion curation more generally and the need to create new, more inclusive definitions. I think that we need to readdress the misperception that fashion is exclusively Western, and we need to construct more diverse fashion histories and narratives. This is something that I’m thinking about for future shows; every decision that I make going forward has to be informed by race and ethnicity and gender and sexuality. The awareness can’t go away; this is a lifelong commitment.”
(Left) An early iteration of the little black dress from the Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, ca. 1927. (Right) Off-White by Virgil Abloh dress, 2018. (Photo Credit: Ethan James Green)In the original exhibit, Bolton paired Chanel’s iconic little black dress, circa 1927, with a rather literal copy by Norman Norell from 1965. “But I’d always had Virgil Abloh’s “Little Black Dress” in the back of my mind: equally as strong but more ironic.” So now Abloh’s dress will be on display rather than the original Norell. Bolton also scoured vintage retailers to find all black silhouettes from designers of color, such as Stephen Burrows, Lamine Kouyate of XULY.Bët, Patrick Kelly, Olivier Rousteing for Balmain and Shayne Oliver from Hood by Air.
According to Bolton, “In light of recent events, it’s important to readdress what traditionally have been fashion’s defining characteristics—luxury, power, class, ephemerality, obsolescence. I hope the show helps us reflect on these encoded ideologies and encourages us to raise important questions for the industry.”
Since all of the garments in the exhibition are black, Bolton decided to end the show with a statement piece – an all white dress from Viktor & Rolf’s spring 2020 haute couture collection. The gown is made from upcycled swatches in a patchwork design—an opposite metaphor for the future of fashion with its emphasis on community and sustainability. According to Bolton,”the dress will be shown floating in an “infinity box” surrounded by a tornado of swatches (inspired by the artist E. V. Day’s “Exploding Couture” series from 1999–2002), like a weather-worn phoenix rising from the ashes.”
A look from Julie Vino’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Julie Vino)
While the spring 2021 Woman’s RTW shows were a hybrid mix that has become coined as “Phygital Fashion Week”, bridal designers opted to present their collections digitally on the CFDA’s new ‘ Runway 360’. It seems that the designers have made the right decision as New York COVID numbers are steadily beginning to rise again.
The season kicked off with bridal designers – Justin Alexander, Savannah Miller, Viktor & Rolf, and a number of others – joining forces through Vow Pro, a new initiative that unites wedding professionals to help put an end to child marriage.
Looks from Victor & Rolf’s Mariage collection. (Photo Credit: Victor & Rolf Mariage)
On Oct. 9, the Justin Alexander Luxury Group held a roundtable discussion to raise money for Vow to End Child Marriage, the organization in charge of the Vow Pro initiative. Vow ambassador, Princess Mabel van Oranje of the Netherlands, led the discussion and was joined by Justin Alexander’s CEO and creative director Justin Warshaw, partner and development manager Joshua Grimes, and Viktor & Rolf’s CEO Andrea Collesei.
The virtual townhall brought awareness to Vow and the astonishing facts that surround child marriage. According to Vow, more than 12 million girls all over the world are married before the age of 18, some being as young as 8 years old. Child brides are often married to an older man they do not choose themselves and experience abuse throughout the marriage.
All involved in the Vow initiative are not only spreading awareness through social media, but many of the designers involved have also pledged to donate a percentage of sales from their bridal collections, as well as dresses, to the organization. One of Vow’s partners, Reem Acra, will even donate a fixed 10 percent of their sales from her iconic “Paradise” dress. So now brides can shop for a dress and know that a portion of the sale will go to a worthy cause.
The Vow organization will donate 100 percent of the donations made to the organization and distribute it to projects in countries where these underage weddings are taking place. The money is distributed by Girls First Fund, a donor collaborative that encourages community-led efforts to stop child marriage around the world.
As van Oranje reflected on her own wedding as “an absolutely wonderful day,” she continued saying that sadly not every woman has that same experience. “This is across continents, cultures, and religions,” she said. “For them, their wedding day is the day they have to leave school if they were ever allowed to go to school. It is a day when they have to go live with a man, whom they very often haven’t chosen themselves, and in many cases is older than they are. It is the day that they might get pregnant even though their bodies are not ready to give birth and they are really still children.”
In the socially-conscience world we live in, now, brides-to-be can easily get involved in a cause…the fight to end child marriage. Here are some of the strongest trends of the Fall 2021 Bridal season.
FIT FOR A PRINCESS
For fall 2021, bridal designers have created plenty of modern fairy tale gowns, from off-the-shoulder frothy confections to fully covered lace frocks. One thing is for sure, these traditional dresses are a dream come true.
A look from Ines di Santo’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Ines di Santo)
A look from Marchesa’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Marchesa)
Looks from Mira Zwillinger’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Mira Zwillinger)
A look from Alyne by Rita Vinieris’ Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Rita Vinieris)
A look from Gracy Accad’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Gracy Accad)
Simplicity rules as architectural-inspired gowns offer a modern and fresh take on bridalwear.
A look from Vivienne Westwood’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Vivienne Westwood)
A look from Amsale’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Amsale)
A look from Anne Barge’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Anne Barge)
A look from Alyne by Rita Vinieris’ Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Rita Vinieris)
A look from Willow’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Willow)
Calling all fashionistas! These edgy bridal looks are effortlessly chic. From flights of fancy feathers to Sixties Mod space age, these looks are anything but traditional.
A look from Kaviar Gauche’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Kavier Gauche)
A look from Vivienne Westwood’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Vivienne Westwood)
A look from Halfpenny London’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Halfpenny London)
A look from Wild Wings’ Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Wild Wings)
THE COLD SHOULDER
The one-shoulder look has long been a favorite among the fashionable set and now the trend is hitting bridal in full force.
A look from Eisen Stein’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Eisen Stein)
A look from Wona Concept’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Wona Concept)
A look from Pronovias’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Pronovias)
A look from Amsale’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Amsale)
A look from Romona New York’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Romona New York)
CAPES OF GLORY
For fall 2021 designers created a variety of gorgeous capes; from airy floor sweeping versions to embellished capelets, these are the perfect toppers to complete your dream wedding look.
A look from Naeem Khan’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Naeem Khan)
A look from Julie Vino’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Julie Vino)
A look from Verdin’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Verdin)
A look from Edem’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Edem)
A look from Legends by Romona Keveza’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Legends by Romona Keveza)
AND THE BRIDE WORE PANTS…..
Let’s face it, due to the pandemic, who knows when brides can have over-the-top weddings again. So for the less formal affair, why not opt for a chic pant look! These range from sleek jumpsuits to high-waisted trousers that pair with delicate lace camisoles.
A look from Elizabeth Fillmore’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Fillmore)
A look from Savannah Miller’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Savannah Miller)
A look from Alexandra Grecco’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Alexandra Grecco)
A look from Morilee by Madeline Garder’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Morilee)
A look from Kosibah Asheyori’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Kosibah Asheyori)
ALL ABOUT SLEEVE
Let’s face it, in today’s uncertain times – global pandemic, economic crisis, and political upheaval – Zoom weddings may become more common. To stand out for your digital ceremony, why not make a bold sleeve/shoulder or both, statement?
A look from Lihi Hod’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Lihi Hod)
A look from Marchesa’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Marchesa)
A look from Francesca Miranda’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Miranda)
A look from Ines di Santo’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Ines di Santo)
A look from Elizabeth Fillmore’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Fillmore)
Today more than ever, brides have so many options. One of the most popular untraditional bridal trends is the mini dress. Many brides will get to choose from these contemporary silhouettes for their ‘change-into party dress’ après ceremony to dance the night away in fashionable comfort.
A look from Gracy Accad’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Gracy Accad)
A look from Francesca Miranda’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Francesca Miranda)
A look from Edem’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Edem)
A look from Ines di Santo’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Ines de Santo)
A look from Naeem Khan’s Fall 2021 Bridal Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Naeem Khan)
A golden look from Paco Rabanne’s Spring 2021 Runway. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Paco Rabanne)
It’s a wrap! The Spring 2021 Fashion Season has officially come to an end. Now known as Phygital Fashion Month, a hybrid mix of digital and physical fashion presentations, Paris officially closed the season with a bang on Tuesday, Oct. 7th. Some of the heavy hitter brands, Chanel, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Miu Miu, and Louis Vuitton turned video into an art form, while others chose to show their collection in the old-fashioned traditional runway format. Either way, it was a great season.
Sporty chic at Miu Miu’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Miu Miu)
While many have debated how can the industry go forward with fashion presentations in the middle of a global pandemic, many designers responded with whimsical collections giving us all hope for a brighter and happier future. After all, the purpose of the runway to give us an escape from reality and transform us into the designer’s fictional collection world. Here are a few collections that ended Paris Fashion Week with bravado and excitement.
A Goth inspired wedding at Maison Margiela’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maison Margiela)
“Hope is the last thing to die” is an old Russian saying that inspired Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia to move forward with creating his latest collection. Always one to defy fashion norms, Gvasalia and his husband created a music video to present his spring 2021 Balenciaga collection. In an interview with Vogue Runway, the creative director stated, “You know, I couldn’t wait not to do a show. It didn’t feel right with the way things are. So we’ve made a music video. My husband recorded that ’80s track by Corey Hart, ‘I wear my sunglasses at night’—because you know, is there anything more absurdly fashion than that? It’s also allegorical. You know, where is fashion going? It’s out there, searching in the dark at the moment, not seeing…”
In the middle of pandemic and global unrest, the video might have sounded like an apocalyptic film; but thankfully that was not the case as the video was a tribute to Balenciaga’s nighttime people; each subject was captured walking Paris’ dark streets to a purposeful destination, all dressed in Balenciaga’s latest looks, complete with sunglasses. The video captured the essence of Paris’ nightlife and glamour as each model strutted the streets heading to see friends – an activity we all long for as we’ve spent months in quarantine. The video was upbeat, alive and oh so clever. Streets as the runway. Brilliant!
Gvasalia has always been an activist for the environment and being in isolation only strengthened his passion for sustainable fashion. In a press release, the house released specifics: “93.5% of the plain materials in this collection are either certified sustainable or upcycled. 100% of the print bases have sustainable certifications.” With the resources of the Kering Group at hand, Gvasalia said, “we discovered we could do it quite easily, with the exception of the fibers that are in some of the existing fabrics. There are solutions if you look for them. There’s a need to revise things. To start a new chapter.” He believes in the future consumers will be reusing the clothes they already own. This begs the question: how will your favorite pieces stand the test of time?
For spring Gvasalia hopes to answer that question by creating a timeless collection of great pieces that ranged from terrific outerwear to cozy knits and cool athletic wear. While most of the collection was genderless, such as the oversized outerwear, the distressed hoodies, classic denim, plaid shirting and oversized tailored suiting. The designer also created a few effortless wrap dresses for day, but for evening, he opted for casual glam with a metallic lingerie inspired top paired with drawstring trousers. These are real clothes that are meant to be lived in and loved.
Inspired by a childhood trip to Montreal to attend the 1976 Summer Olympics, Thom Browne can still remember Caitlyn Jenner winning the gold medal in the decathlon, that moment in time has stuck with him as he subtly references sport motifs in many of his collections. So, for his spring 2021 collection, Browne transports us to the future of the 2132 Olympics in a humorous video, which featured comedian Jordan Firstman and model Grace Mahary bantering like sports commentators on the moon, as models and flag bearers descend the stadium steps of the Los Angeles Coliseum; the location hosted the 1932 Olympics and was chosen for its Art Deco architecture.
While the video is set to take place in the future, the collection itself was inspired by the past, as Browne reinterprets the silhouettes of the ’20s and ’30s with plenty of drop waist dresses that were long and chic. The Deco silhouettes stole the show as Browne resumed his quirky experimental fashion that shifted the position of garments on the body, case in point, jackets worn as skirts.
Browne’s designs may at times be unconventional, but one cannot deny that he is a master craftsman. His his couture-like techniques were perfection: seersuckers made of cashmere, embroidery so thick it’s almost quilting, cable knits, intarsia suits, and trompe l’oeil dresses—all accentuating the intricate texture of each design. The collection was created in various shades of white as a Browne calls the hue, ‘a symbol of hope.’ In addition to traditional models, Browne also used actual Olympians in his video, suggesting that his quirky fashion can be worn by those brave enough to wear them.
With everyone spending quarantine time transfixed to their screens, Brown’s video has undoubtedly ushered in a new era in the fashion industry, “fashiontainment.” An interesting combo of fashion and entertainment. Watch this space.
A women’s look from Givenchy’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Givenchy)
In June, Givenchy’s social media blew up when it featured a photo of the house’s new creative director, Matthew M. Williams, shirtless and tattooed in the house’s introduction of their new young designer. So naturally, Givenchy was the most anticipated collection of Paris Fashion Week. The collection was a perfect balance between the houses’ signature DNA and Williams’ elegant goth aesthetic, devil horns and all.
The debut collection was an edgy twist on established dress codes. There was no one theme per se, just simply great wearable pieces that Williams said he would personally wear. Digging into the archives of Givenchy, Williamson was inspired by the horn heels that were created during the Alexander McQueen’s era. There were also nods to Hubert de Givenchy: perfectly tailored suits with architectural-inspired details for both men and women, a basic denim jacket updated with unique reflective embroideries, tank tops with asymmetrical draping that were minimalistic perfection.
A men’s look from Givenchy’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Givenchy)
For evening, Williamson continued with the bold, yet rich, aesthetic that he is known for. Key looks included: a geometric square shaped cape for both men and women, intricate ring and crystal embellishments found on delicate mesh dresses and hooded sweatshirts, a laser-cut bustier gown and plenty of backless evening dresses. It is clear that Williamson’s vision of the Givenchy woman is a modern and powerful one.
Even in a global pandemic, the House of Chanel managed to serve up glamour, in the most ostentatious way. The full-fledged show was held in Paris’s soaring Grand Palais with the runway backdrop spelling out, in huge letters, “CHANEL,” reminiscent of the iconic Hollywood sign. Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard seemed to be inspired by the modern life of actresses from their glamorous red-carpet moments to their daily coffee runs and everything in between. Her collection was a perfect combination of Parisian cool mixed with L.A.’s laid-back style.
Viard’s marriage of these two worlds worked like charm. She paired her classic Chanel tweed jackets with petal pushers or stone-washed denim jeans or with tiny miniskirts in pastel colors, all reminiscent of the excess of the 1980s, The hybrid mix of these two cities came in the form of an elongated, robe-like, pink cardigan with black piping, paired with a multi-charm necklace and a logo tiara headband. Other key looks ranged from graphic black and white floral dresses; neon colored billboard-inspired prints on t-shirts and day dresses; a sequin pantsuit for evening; and plenty of red-carpet feathered looks.
While many red carpet events have been put on hold due to COVID, it’s clear that Viard is looking ahead to brighter days.
Louis Vuitton’s show was the official end to Paris Fashion Week and leave it to Nicolas Ghesquière to deliver the virtual reality experience we’ve all been waiting for. The live show was held at the newly remodeled-by-LVM, La Samaritaine department store. Sprinkled among the audience were state-of-the-art 360-degree cameras that allowed spectators at home to pivot in their chairs, to watch models coming and going. It was almost like you were actually there!
“My question this season was less about one theme; it was about this zone between femininity and masculinity,” Ghesquière explained in an interview with Vogue Runway. “This zone is highlighted by nonbinary people, people that are taking a lot of freedom dressing themselves as they want, and, in turn, giving a lot of freedom to all of us. I found it inspiring to explore what the items are that represent this wardrobe that is not feminine, not masculine. I wanted to zoom in on that section in between.”
The show opened with a “Vote” top (a statement tee that many in the fashion industry are making) paired with pleated chinos cinched at the waist with a black belt. This relaxed street-ready look set the tone for a wearable collection that we all want to own right now, such as duster coats, mini dresses, and khaki suits. Ghesquière also showed skater-inspired tees that were spliced into elaborate techno patchworks. The designer showed off his technical skills by creating expandable jackets that were built with panels, so that the customer can wear it either fitted or oversized. He also used this same technique for trousers giving the wearer the freedom to style them as he or she chooses. It was all a fresh approach to Ghesquière’s beloved ‘80s silhouette with a genderless concept.
Do you have a fav collection, now that the spring 2021 season has come to an end?
Looks off the runway of Yohji Yamamoto’s Spring 2021 Show. (Photo Credit: Alessandro Lucioni)
Welcome to the final stretch of the Spring 2021 Collections, which, let’s face it, has surely been the most unpredictable show season in history. With all four major fashion cities ascribing to a hybrid mix of digital and physical fashion presentations, we now have a new fashion term “Phygital FashionWeek.”
At Paris Fashion Week, September 28th – October 6th, French fashion houses are on track to follow Milan’s template: a combination of runway shows, short films, and everything in between. According to The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, this season will function as the online destination for all the spring/summer 2021 collections. According to the site’s official statement, the organization has complied with recommendations of public authorities in order to carry out successful presentations, ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved. We’d expect nothing less, especially since Europe’s Covid numbers are on the rise.
A detailed look from Chloé’s Spring 2021 Runway. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Chloé)
Some Parisian designers this season have dropped out of the fashion show calendar altogether (similar to American designers) including heavy hitters such as Celine, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Off-White and Lanvin. But not to fret, Paris will have plenty of in-person shows including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Balmain, Hermès, and others.
However, the majority of designers have opted to present their collection digitally, namely, Balenciaga, Maison Margiela, Miu Miu, Dries Van Noten and Rick Owens. And, making his debut at Givenchy, Matthew Williams.
Paris Fashion Week started off with plenty of anticipation and excitement, but no one was expecting a protester to crash Dior’s runway show, and that was only on day 1. An environmental protester infiltrated the runway holding a yellow banner with the phrase “WE ARE ALL FASHION VICTIMS” written in bold letters with the extinction symbol used by environmental protesters appearing on the bottom corners of the flag.
An Extinction Rebellion Protester Crashes Dior’s Spring 2021 Show. (Photo Credit: Victor Boyko)
A spokeswoman for Extinction Rebellion — a climate group that previously called for a fashion boycott due to the industry’s impact on the environment — confirmed it was responsible for the runway protest, WWD reports.
Naturally guests were confused by the situation, as the woman did not speak or disrupt the flow of the show. It almost seemed that she was part of the show.
“It was a surprise for everybody,” Pietro Beccari, chairman and CEO of Christian Dior Couture, said according to WWD. ″It was so well done, you couldn’t tell what it was.″
Sidney Toledano, chairman and CEO of LVMH Fashion Group, didn’t initially realize what was happening either: ″I had no idea what was going on. I saw the girl go past, and it looked like she was walking in the show,” Toledano said, according to WWD.
“I don’t think we’re destroying the planet,” he continued. “We’re committed to reducing our environmental impact by cutting our carbon dioxide emissions, tracing our raw materials and so forth. They shouldn’t be targeting us. I think there are industries that pollute much more.”
Speaking about the effectiveness of the protest, Toledano said, “It wasn’t nasty or aggressive, but I think her message wasn’t clear. You couldn’t tell if it was part of the show or not.”
Here’s a wrap up of some of the strongest collections in Paris thus far:
Creating a collection during quarantine is no easy feat, as the “work from home” concept translated to seven months of leisurewear for many. So with this new reality in mind, Maria Grazia Chiuri, the Creative Director for Christian Dior, created a more intimate, wearable collection, as she tells Vogue Runway in an interview, “We had to approach this collection with an idea more of design. We are living in a different way and staying more at home within our intimacy. Our clothes have to reflect this new style of life.”
Chiuri is known for creating whimsical and intricate collections for Dior, so her more wearable collection was a far cry toward cashmere lounge sets that have become the uniform of WFH dressing. The house of Dior’s DNA is in its feminine yet tailored suits. For spring, Chiuri created a new Dior silhouette: the jacket, shirt, and pant, in a more relaxed yet elegant aesthetic. Jackets ballooned into dressing gowns, shirts elongated into tunics, and trousers became slouchier in width. The collection was filled with Mediterranean paisleys, which took Chiuri back to her Italian roots, as well as airy goddess dresses, which have been a favorite of the designer for years.
Other key looks included a series of boxy trouser and skirt suits that highlighted the hourglass silhouette by softly emphasizing its waist, embracing a woman’s natural curves. These are formal yet comfortable pieces that will have you looking effortlessly chic during our new reality of the work-from-home lifestyle.
DRIES VAN NOTEN
A look from Dries Van Noten’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Viviane Sassen)
COVID-19 has undoubtedly impacted all of us, but for some designers, it pushed them into new creative endeavors. Case in point…Dries Van Noten. For Spring 2021, the designer found himself in new territory, a director of photography and film. This was a first in his 34-year career, especially since Van Noten has never even had an advertising campaign!
Van Noten worked with Dutch photographer Viviane Sassen to shoot the images and the film. In an interview with Vogue Runway he stated that “she [Sassen] captures the moment in a very good way. There’s a directness and she works fast and spontaneously.” For spring, the designer presented both his men’s and womenswear collections simultaneously, which was also a first for Van Noten.
The photographs were shot on a beach and the setting was the perfect backdrop to the collection, which was filled with board shorts, Bermudas, swimsuits, netted knit tops, and easy cotton jackets worn by both boys and girls – all in psychedelic prints of the sun, moons, palm trees and bars of light. “We wanted to work around beauty [that] evokes energy—not one that makes you dream or linger on things that are past, which makes you nostalgic,” he says. “It had to push you to the future, to give energy.”
At Balmain, it was all theatrics. The show opened with Olivier Rousteing, the house’s young creative director, sitting on a wooden stool as six established models slowly strolled the runway from one side to the other as they tilted their hips and twirled to the audience’s delight. The mood was perfect. Rousteing adapted Balmain’s 1970s archived looks in gray cashmere along with the houses’ monogramed logo. The soundtrack for the show included Pierre Balmain himself saying, “Black is the only color young people can wear more successfully than old people. A young girl dressed in black is always tremendously beautiful. An older woman in black can be dreary. That’s why black is not an old color, it’s a young color. Black velvet is the epitome of young and sexy. Because there is also a touch of sex in fashion now.”
Once the six models and Rousteing exited the runway, then the real show began, with four models (two male and two female) in sharply tailored neon suits as The Weekend’s “Blinding Lights” tune echoed on the soundtrack. There was no streetwear here, no cozy WFH looks. This was pure power dressing with bold suits for men and women that ranged from wide shoulder jackets to pagoda-shouldered blazers. Rousteing also presented a group of grey suits that were very Armani.
The collection then segued to denim, a true staple in everyone’s wardrobe. The washed denim looks ranged from classic boot leg jeans and shorts, to a wide range of outerwear. Then came the eveningwear, which the Kardashian and Jenner sisters will surely rock, with two-piece dresses and slinky slip dresses. But the real showstopper was the two adorable kids that closed out the show in miniature gray suits. It was all so magnifique!
A global pandemic and political unrest were the perfect inspiration for Rick Owens and his post-apocalyptic collection. Let’s just say that as the godfather of Goth Glam, this collection did not disappoint his fans. His women’s show was titled “Phlegethon.” In Greek mythology, the Phlegethon was one of the five rivers of the Underworld, less famous than the Styx, but just as deadly. In Dante’s Inferno, it was a river of blood that boiled souls. Dark and eerie yes, but the clothes were Owens at his best.
Owens channeled Tina Turner in “Thunderdome” with his powerful shoulder looks. Maybe he was sending us all a message? The axiom of having “broad shoulders,” which is theabilityand/orwillingness to acceptmultipledemandsandresponsibilities. Seems appropriate for these times. And there were vests and leather cutoffs that looked like they could double as tactical gear. This dystopian-like collection was filled with the accessory of the moment, facemasks, because in today’s world, it’s a necessity AND NOT OPTIONAL. “A mask kind of works with my clothes,” Owens said in an interview with Vogue Runway, “but it’s also a vote. It’s also promoting consideration of others. You might not believe in a mask, but it sends the right message.”
The allure of an Owens show is that as dark and disturbing as his theme may be—as hellish as we all feel—he inevitably leaves you excited and energized. There was also a message of hope and the promise of better days ahead, as Owens showed his softer side with shades of pink, red and yellow to transform his customer to a happier place.
A look from Loewe’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Loewe)
Loewe’s spring collection is a joyful celebration of fashion in a time when we can all use a jolt of happiness. In an interview with Vogue Runway, creative director Jonathan Anderson stated, “We have to start loving fashion again. We don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring. So let’s enjoy it!”
Just one page of Loewe’s spring 2021 Lookbook says it all. You can feel the excitement of the collection as the models are all in animated and energetic poses, bringing the collection to life. As for the clothes, Anderson created a whimsical collection that plays with volume and shape. Key looks included a puffy white dress ruched with parachute tape; a generously layered black taffeta trapeze dress; a crisp scalloped-edge broderie anglaise dress with wires sewn into the collar and skirt; as well as balloon-shaped trousers and sleeves.
These humorous pieces will surely leave a smile on your face.
Just like Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe collection, Isabel Marant similarly turned out a lively and upbeat collection with a runway show that may have caused some guests to feel uncomfortable, because after all, we are still living through a pandemic. Marant staged her show at the Palais Royal and was billed as ‘a night out in the club,’ reminiscent of happier times. While we all long for a return to normalcy, it was reported that guests at Marant’s show plonked themselves down so close to each other, with zero respect for social distancing. Though you really can’t blame the designer if guests choose not to sit six feet apart from one another in an outdoor venue, but the last thing anyone wants is a super spreader event like the one held last week in the Rose Garden at the White House, where eight people so far have been infected with the virus, including the President and First Lady.
In an interview with Vogue Runway, Marant stated, “For me, fashion is about enjoying life. It has to be positive. It’s a release of energy to people, putting bad vibes behind.” There were no bad vibes here, only ‘80s-centric clothes suspended someplace between Saint-Germain and Manhattan, all with Marant’s signature glamour and with an extra dosage of high shine and luster. Looks ranged from mutton sleeve tops paired with metallic overalls to embroidered bohemian blouses and micro shorts for Marant’s version of daywear. Temperatures rose for her evening portion with mini-dresses in glossy fabrics and a leather corset top paired with shimmering leggings. While Marant’s collection may be a tad too sexy for the state of the world today, it does give us the promise that in time, we will return to “the old days.”
STREET STYLE STARS
And what would Paris Fashion Week be without some great Street Style looks? Sometimes the best shows in Paris are viewed on its city streets. Which reminds me…be sure to catch the new 10 episode Netflix series, Emily in Paris, which stars Lily Collins as Emily, and was created by Darren Star of Sex in the City fame and with costumes by Patricia Field. Get ready for some very fashionable moments!
Paris brought back the Street Style Stars. (Photo Credit: Acielle for Style du Monde)
Streetstyle Star Bryanboy attends Paris Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: Acielle for Style du Monde)
Actress Maisie Williams and Reuben Selby attending the Dior Show. (Photo Credit: Acielle for Style du Monde)
Shows may still be going on, but tell us, which show was your favorite so far?
Bora Aksu’s Spring 2021 Presentation. (Photo: Courtesy of Bora Aksu)
ON WITH THE SHOW!
While New York showed only a handful of live shows and presentations due to Covid concerns, at London and Milan fashion week it was almost business as usual. London designers staged over 30 live shows, presentations, fashion events or personal appointments, while Milan blended 28 physical shows with 24 digital ones, making Milan, thus far, the city with the most in real life showings. As American buyers, the fashion press (and the rest of us) virtually crossed the pond for London and Milan fashion week, we all got to watch some pretty amazing spring 2021 fashion in the privacy of our home, sitting on our pandemic-safe couch. Gotta love technology!
A look from Gareth Pugh’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Gareth Pugh)
Stating that all live events would adhere to social distancing and hygiene g regulations, the British Fashion Council kicked off LFW on September 17th and wrapped up on September 22. Burberry opened the season with a live-streamed outdoor show to rave reviews. Throughout the week 80 designers took part in London Fashion Week – 30 IRL (in real life) and 50 digitally.
The week hosted a mix of womenswear and menswear designers, but what really stood out was that the season will no longer be known as Spring 2021, but rather “London Fashion Week September 2020,” in a move towards a more season-less approach.
Here are the highlights:
Riccardo Tisci opened London Fashion Week with a bang. The influential designer live-streamed his Burberry show in a hauntingly beautiful forest. His theme: “a love story between a mermaid and a shark.” The dark theme was the perfect parable as to how we’ve all felt the past seven months locked in quarantine and working from home. Tisci’s under-the-sea analogy was anything but kitsch. The collection was rather chic and sophisticated with beautiful shades of blues; “Blue is the new beige,” Tisci teased in an interview with Vogue Runway, name-checking Burberry’s signature color.
Being in quarantine with his 92 year-old mother and relatives in his childhood home near Lake Cuomo was a breath of fresh air for the designer and gave him a new sense of appreciation for life. According to his Vogue interview, the rootsy surroundings of his quarantine made him reconnect with his childhood and the innocent mindset with which he pursued those dreams. “You open the drawer of your past and see how far you’ve gone as a person, how much you’ve done for yourself, and for others. Your dreams have come true,” he reflected.
His collection for Burberry was filled with sea-centric references – from illustrations to embellishments – that were innocent and raw. Tisci’s shark motif has been a signature of the designer from the start of his career. As for his mermaids, Tisci worked with peplum shapes, glistening dresses, and spliced trench coats.
Tisci perfectly infused Burberry’s classic aesthetic with his signature street-style. Sometimes, going back to your roots is what a designer needs to find their footing again, as his mother would say, Bravo Riccardo!
A look from Duro Olowu’s presentation. (Photo Credit: Luis Monteiro for Duro Olowu)
There is no doubt about it, 2020 will forever be known as the year of the sweatsuit. But as Duro Olowu puts it quite simply in an interview with Vogue Runway, “Ease doesn’t have to mean track pants.”
Olowu presented his collection to a handful of editors and buyers in his London boutique. The joyful collection was filled with bold colors and striking prints that were inspired by Emma Amos, an African American painter who died in May of this year. Olowu infused bold hand-painted striped prints that were chic and sophisticated, case in point, the elongated tunic over wide leg pants, gave off an elegant loungewear vibe.
The designer is also experimenting with new shapes, focusing on sarong-like midi-length silhouettes that feel fresh and new. His line-up was filled with 1950s lean looks that were refined yet youthful. These clothes are a promise to brighter days ahead and they definitely will put a smile on your face.
A look from Molly Goddard’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Ben Broomfield for Molly Goddard)
Molly Goddard held intimate appointments in her studio as she presented her eclectic spring collection filled with bright, frothy, tulle confections. Mannequins were scattered throughout the space, each wearing one on Goddard’s jubilant looks. The collection was filled with ruffled, voluminous skirts and dresses, all in vibrant colors, as well as checkerboard neon sweaters, an A-line anorak dress and even floral printed denim pants.
Also, for the first time, Goddard decided to offer many of her unique dresses in white, which would make the perfect wedding dress for the cool young bride who wants an anything but traditional dress.
A look from Simone Rocha’s spring 2021 collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Simone Rocha)
With all the COVID-19 U.K. regulations set in place, Simone Rocha held an intimate presentation at the Hauser & Wirth gallery. The cavernous white walls were the perfect backdrop for Rocha’s beautifully, intricate looks to come to life. In an interview with Vogue Runway, Rocha stated “I’m not going to lie: I’ll be the first to say I love runway shows, now that the pace of shows has been stripped away, I wanted to find a space to represent that. It’s important to me to find a way to physically share the collection, just for the silhouette, texture, and weight of it. Clothes are made of cloth, and emotions, and they come to life on a body.”
Rocha’s collection was filled with voluminous, rounded shapes in gilded brocades, rich cotton embroideries, delicate pearl embroideries, and intricate scalloped edge cottons. Close up, the layers held little messages: on tulle veiling, patterns of castles; in the broderie anglaise, SR monograms. “Castles in faraway places,” Rocha laughed. “I think that’s the escapism we’re all craving.”
Just like Riccardo Tisci for Burberry, Erdem Moralioglu was inspired by fantasy for his spring 2021 collection and also opted to hold an audience-less runway show in the English forest. Moralioglu spent his quarantine time reading. His collection was inspired by a Susan Sontag novel, The Volcano Lover, Sontag’s portrait of the 18th-century beauty Emma Hamilton who married a volcanologist obsessed with Grecian vases and had a passionate love affair with Lord Nelson.
Moralioglu, like his inspiration, looked to beauty during this fearful time. The designer featured regal 18th century-inspired floral jacquard dresses with puff-sleeves juxtaposed against cozy cardigans, military-inspired outerwear and an embroidered admiral jacket.
In an interview with Vogue Runway, Moralioglu stated, “I get asked the same question: Are women’s tastes and wants changing now, given the situation? On the contrary, we have a customer who’s still buying special pieces. It’s the want for something you can wear in five and 10 years. As I enter my 15th year doing this, the most thrilling thing is seeing someone wearing your work from 10 years ago. I’ve always been obsessed with permanence. When it feels like the end of the world, doesn’t someone need a pink moiré hand-embroidered gown?”
An abstract painterly look from Christopher Kane. (Photo: Courtesy of Chrisopher Kane)
If this pandemic has taught us anything (other than the importance of wearing a mask, frequent hand-washing and social distancing) it’s a time for reflection, a reminder not to put off things that bring you joy. Christopher Kane did just that in his spring 2021 collection. The designer revisited his love of painting using multicolored glitter that he experimented with as a kid. Kane’s flagship store was turned into an exhibition space for his collection presentation, with easels and canvases featuring his paintings that he’d created during lockdown.
As for the clothes, which were displayed on mannequins, Kane recreated his artwork onto coats, dresses, and tops. Key looks included a brushstroke print long sleeve midi dress, a paint dot splatter shirt, and a brush-stroke striped sweater. With this charming collection one thing is clear, Kane had a lot of fun creating these pieces.
Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring 2021 patchwork show was inspired by Sicily. (Photo Credit: Gorunway.com)
Leave it to the Italians to add a new word to fashion’s lexicon. Milan’s Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana billed the city’s spring 2021 shows as a “phygital fashion week.” Phygital fashion week is a portmanteau, a blend of physical, in person shows, and a digital show, a format that has become essential during COVID. Milan’s phygital fashion week took place from September 22 – 28th.
Everyone in the fashion community is asking themselves…is this hybrid model of phygital shows and presentations the future of fashion week? Only time will tell.
Prada was hands-down the most anticipated show of the season and rightfully so, since this was the debut of the Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons collaboration. The partnership was announced last February, pre-pandemic lockdown, and it was probably the most celebrated fashion news of 2020. The designers staged a digital runway show that was viewed on Prada.com and then opened up to a conversation with Prada and Simons answering questions that were submitted online. It was a genius move, giving Prada consumers the chance to listen to their “backstage-conversation.”
As for the clothes, a new Prada ‘uniform’ was introduced. You may remember that in the ‘90s Prada’s minimalistic uniform looks launched Miuccia Prada into fashion stardom. According to Miuccia and Simmons, the new Prada is all about paring back and the streamlining of excesses to get at what’s essential. The collection’s 40 looks were composed of long, narrow trousers; a sleeveless, tunic-length tee with the famous triangle logo; statement making outerwear with clutched coats; full skirts; holey (not the religious kind) knits; all worn with pointy-toed slingback kitten heels in a contrasting color. “How Miuccia dresses is very often a kind of uniform one way or another, and that was direct inspiration for me for the show,” Simons said in the interview.
The collection was filled with past references that became signatures for both designers. Case in point, Prada’s spring 1996 show of “ugly prints” reemerged on hoodies and matching full skirts, as well words and graphic silk-screened motifs on pastel shift dresses, a representation of Simmons’ personal work.
Miuccia and Simons lived up to the fashion world’s anticipation and thus far was the show of the season.
Fendi opened Milan Fashion Week with the first in-person, live, runway show, featuring both their men’s and women’s collections. And the fashion crowd couldn’t be happier. The show opened with photographic prints taken by Silvia Venturini Fendi from her bedroom window during lockdown. These soft graphic prints were found on everything from transparent shirt dresses, to tailored blazers and men’s suits.
As Italy was the first of the European cities to suffer from Covid 19, spending several months in lock-down mode, Fendi believes this will forever change the way we dress, and answered the call with sophisticated alternatives for WFH (work-from-home) looks. The collection had plenty of chic loungewear and pajama fashion, as well as floaty wood-printed caftans. Fendi closed the show with bedding-inspired looks that ranged from cozy satin quilted outerwear to pale lace embroidered linen tops and skirts. “This reminded me of Karl [Lagerfeld],” said Fendi pre-show in an interview with Vogue Runaway: “He had a love for bed linen, he had a big collection.”
This collection marked the final transition of Silvia’s decades long collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld, and her latest collaboration with newly appointed creative director Kim Jones. This announcement will surely make Fendi the most anticipated show for the Fall 2022.
Etro’s Spring 2021 Show. (Photo Credit: Gorunway.com)
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult and terrifying time for us all, but if there is any silver lining to this nightmare, it is that the lockdowns have brought many families back together. This is the case for Veronica Etro, as she spent her time during lockdown at home with her mom as they listened to old Neapolitan songs, “we were bewitched by the serenity, the timelessness, and the elegance” Veronica Etro stated during her pre-show press conference. The music made her reminisce about her “2019 trip to Ischia, Capri, Naples, and Positano, and—maybe because we were so patriotic during that period—I thought, okay, let’s make the collection all about Italy.”
Veronica dug deep into her family’s print archives and turned out a youthful and vibrant collection filled with effortless vacation looks that ranged from a sexy scarf print bikini worn under a glamorous open front maxi skirt, to charming marinière knits. There were plenty of effortlessly chic printed dresses; flirty nautical themed bra tops and shorts; as well as youthful paisley shorts worn with menswear inspired shirts.
This charming collection was the perfect beach escape for next summer and beyond.
A look from Alberta Ferretti’s Spring 2021 Show. (Photo Credit: Corunway.com)
Alberta Ferretti also opted for a live, in-person show this season, as she held her runway extravaganza in the open air in one of the courtyards of Milan’s Castello Sforzesco, as guests enjoyed the sunshine. The perfect backdrop to Ferretti’s signature romantic aesthetic.
The collection was a stark contrast to the state of the world. In a pre-interview with Vogue Runway, Ferretti stated, “In this difficult situation, so harsh and unforgiving in many ways, my gut instinct was to embrace kindness and a certain seductive softness. I believe that it stems from self-confidence and from the acceptance of the natural power of femininity.”
Ferretti’s approach to the season was practical, as she offered her women a wardrobe that fits all of their needs. The designer showed a variety of feminine dresses that ranged from ethereal, flowing, maxi dresses to flirty macramé lace mini dresses – all with a bohemian yet sophisticated hand. The collection also featured plenty of every-day pieces, such as pastel denim pants, high-waisted fitted trousers paired with bralettes, embroidered tops and cropped blouses. Overall, Ferretti’s collection was a sophisticated and fresh approach to femininity.
Always with a flair for the dramatic, Donatella Versace literally took her viewers “under the sea” for her spring 2021 collection: the aquatic theme being a reoccurring motif for many designers this season. Versace staged a full on live-streamed show, with no audience, just her team. The runway’s backdrop…the imagined ruins of Atlantis with a water current streaming down its projected walls. The mythical backdrop was the perfect setting for Versace’s provocative ocean-themed collection.
Ever since the Versace label launched in 1978, by her beloved brother Gianni, the brand has always been known for its sex appeal and its loud and vibrant prints and colors. For spring 2021, Donatella embraced the DNA of the house and it was a joyful ode to life, featuring both menswear and womenswear looks. Versace started off with a maritime motif with tailored navy blazers and shorts. Then the collection took on a Malibu Barbie twist, with vibrant prints in pumped-up colors. Starfish print dresses that ranged from sheaths to baby-doll silhouettes; coral reef motif and ocean themes made their way onto everything, from skirts and tops to shorts and swimwear. Versace also showed moments of ingenuity with micro-pleated dresses trimmed with twirly ruffles, which resembled a graceful jellyfish swimming in the ocean.
Versace stated that her archival sea collection was also a metaphor for a new world of wonders, which translated to a diverse runway. The co-ed show was cast with a variety of ethnicities, as well as diversified sizes, embracing her message of body positivity and gender-nonconformity. Brava Donatella for such an inclusive representation of the world.
Let’s give it up to Jeremy Scott for producing the most creative show of the season. The digital masterpiece was an elaborate puppet show with marionette replicas of his favorite models walking down a runway and doll replications of his audience. It was a visual delight that eased the stress of a world gone mad. In an interview with Vogue Runway, Scott stated, “The best thing I could do for everyone who’s stressed about the election, the pandemic, social unrest, and the future was to give the gift of fantasy and take us away from all of it for a few minutes; let us enjoy this little fashion world of ours.”
Scott’s whimsical show may have come at a huge expense, but it was a much needed spectacular visual experience. As for the clothes, they were each re-proportioned to fit the dimensions of the marionettes without losing their authentic properties. The collection was an homage to haute couture and brought Scott’s masterful construction to the forefront of the collection, case in point, a cocktail dress that was sliced open, revealing another dress under it with a photograph of an inside-out embroidered dress. Other key looks included a feather trim gown with an exposed bone corseted bust, deconstructed cocktail dresses, as well as spliced outerwear.
When asked if fashion is still relevant, Scott stated “People are like, ‘Sweatpants forever!’ But I love exciting things that are one-of-a-kind and refined. We’re all desperate for that. I constantly kept getting dressed up every day even if I wasn’t seeing people. It’s part of who I am.” The London and Milan shows seemed to prove that point.
So far it looks like NYFW, LFW and MFW are all channeling happier times. Reminds us of the old 1920s song by Jack Yellen & Milton Ager, Happy Days Are Here Again, became the the theme song of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Presidential campaign in 1932 and is still played at Democratic conventions today.
An image from Rodarte’s spring 2021 collection. (Photo Credit: Daria Kobayashi for Rodarte)
The Spring 2021 collections are in full swing as each of the major fashion cities adjust to the new norm. Many have opted for a hybrid model, in-person show and digital format. Earlier this year, the men’s collections, resort and couture, have all shown their collection digitally and the results were mostly considered a flop, at least on social media. According to an article published in BoF on July 27, 2020: “Of more than a dozen major luxury brands that released content tied to men’s fashion week in Milan and Paris, or to their resort collections, none came close to making the same splash on Instagram as the corresponding shows did last year, according to tracking firm Tribe Dynamics. On average, digital shows, videos and presentations generated less than one-third as much online engagement. The all-digital London Fashion Week, which mainly featured smaller brands, also saw a steep drop in buzz, with 55 percent less social media engagement than in January, according to Launchmetrics, another tracker of online activity.” Even the couture season, which offered fanciful films and digital shows did not gain the traction the industry was hoping for.
But before we delve into our coverage of NYFW, we once again ask ourselves, “who are these shows really for”? Traditionally, shows are for buyers, and editors. These industry insiders, attend to show their support for the brands, and to be inspired for the season to come. Of course, as an industry, the organizers of the events, as well as the cities that host them, have much to lose if a brand chooses a digital format. Before NY fashion week began, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the bi-annual event (which generated millions of dollars in revenue for the city pre-pandemic), would be permitted to take place, as long as participants were in “strict compliance” with New York health and safety guidelines. In a statement made in August, Cuomo stated that “New York City is the fashion capital of the world, and New York Fashion Week celebrates the ingenuity of this city, and our unmatched creative talent,” It’s not just talent (and entire business sectors like textile manufacturing and production) that New York Fashion Week supports. It was/is, also a major revenue source. According to past estimates, fashion shows pre-Covid generated nearly $900 million per year, with up to $500 million in tourist spending.
With the new Covid restrictions, designers began asking themselves, whether it was worth investing all this time and money for a show, when an outdoor event is capped at 50 people and an indoor event capped at 50% of the venue’s capacity.” Well for some designers it was. Case in point, Jason Wu’s tropical paradise show on a NYC rooftop.
A look from Grey by Jason Wu. (Photo Credit: Dan Lecca for Jason Wu)
So, here’s the scoop. The official New York Fashion Week Schedule that was released by The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and was condensed to only 3 days this season, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (dates were September 13-16). The CFDA supplemented NYFW with its Runway360 digital platform, this allowed designers to present their latest collections at a time that worked best for them, at any time throughout the year.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the global fashion industry and hit New York particularly hard,” said Steven Kolb, CEO of the CFDA. “Fashion week is a critical time when brands are able to connect with press, retailers and consumers, and I’m proud of how quickly the CFDA pivoted to support the needs of the industry by creating Runway360. We are excited to see 10 new American brands on the schedule – many for the first time – who might not have had the opportunity to share their collections to a global audience without access to Runway360. We’re also excited to highlight the incredible talent coming out of Harlem’s Fashion Row and announce the return of New York Men’s Day. In the face of unprecedented challenges and uncertainty within our industry, the American fashion community has once again come together to support each other and prove its resilience.”
The New York shows kicked off with Jason Wu’s IRL (in real life) intimate fashion show and ended with Tom Ford; but their where plenty of designers who opted out of this seasons fashion week including Marc Jacobs, The Row, Tory Burch, Proenza Schouler, and Michael Kors, to name a few.
Here are a few ways designers got creative when presenting their collections this season (Shows can be accessed at NYFW.com and through the CFDA’s Runway360)
Jason Wu officially opened NY Fashion Week with the first runway presentation for his contemporary label Grey by Jason Wu. The designer took his intimate audience away on a mental trip to Tulum. Wu created a tropical paradise on a NYC rooftop and it was spectacular. Wu’s joyful collection was filled with effortlessly chic pieces, perfect for today’s world, where woman want to look great and feel comfortable.
The show opened with a rust-colored maxi-dress with pockets and bold broderie anglaise detailing just above the hem, which set the mood for the entire collection. Wu showed pleated skirts with bra tops, easy dresses in bold prints, a striped tunic and matching trouser, and tailored Bermuda shorts and blazers. His collection was filled with happy and vibrant clothes, perfect to brighten the gloomy days of Covid that we are all facing.
Rebecca Minkoff’s Presentation featured fall looks that stayed true to her signature boho-rock aesthetic. (Photo Credit: Randy Brooke for Wire Image)
Rebecca Minkoff presented her fall 2020 collection during a two-hour presentation on the rooftop of Spring Studios. The event had a limited audience of fashion influencers and buyers. The social-media savvy designer livestreamed the event on Instagram and gave her followers a walk-through of her collection which was an ode to Manhattan and Motherhood, translated to effortless pieces with a cool twist. The collection was filled with pretty boho styled dresses, great knit sweaters, chic outerwear, and plenty of badass leather pieces.
HARLEM’S FASHION ROW STYLE AWARDS
A look from Rich Fresh. (Photo :Courtesy of Rich Fresh)
Harlem’s Fashion Row hosted its 13th annual Style Awards and a fashion show virtually on Sept. 13. The video will be made available to the public on Sept. 19.
The Style Awards honored British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful with the Maverick of the Year Award; Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner with the Editor of the Year Award; Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond with the Designer of the Year award; and Nate Hinton with the Publicist of the Year award.
The organization selected three talented designers to present their collections— Kimberly Goldson, Rich Fresh and Kristian Loren.
A look from Kimberly Goldson. (Photo: Courtesy of Kimberly Goldson)
A look from Kristian Lorén. (Photo: Courtesy of Kristian Lorén)
A look from Khaite’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Khaite)
It was just over a year ago that actress Katie Holmes wore a cashmere Khaite bra and cardigan look on the streets of New York City and the brand instantly became a must have label among the fashion set. The brand’s leather jackets for fall could hardly be kept in stock. For spring 2021, Khaite designer, Catherine Holstein, kept true to the brands cool girl appeal. Holstein offered plenty of sexy body-skimming knits and seductive ruched dresses, and romantic puff shoulder tops and airy evening frocks. The designer also featured a few of her signature cozy cashmere sweaters that have made her a fashion darling. These are keep-forever investment pieces that are timeless yet modern and youthful.
IMITATION OF CHRIST
A look from Imitation of Christ. (Photo: Courtesy of Imitation of Christ)
It’s been 20 years since Tara Subkoff first presented her theatrical show for her label Imitation of Christ. And after a long hiatus, Subkoff is officially back. For spring 2021, the designer put on simultaneous presentations, one in NYC the other in Los Angeles, but they were not be identical. Each presentation consisted of acapella singers and skateboarders in IOC looks. FYI- Imitation of Christ is known for its one-of-a-kind pieces. Resurrecting existing pieces is the ideology that Imitation of Christ was founded on. No two looks are ever the same.
For spring, Subkoff’s inspiration was skateboarders and created a collection of glamorous activewear. There were vintage slips attached to sports jerseys, and oversized tees with ruffled trimmings.
Subkoff sourced some of her pieces from the luxury consignment ecommerce site RealReal. The site will offer the spring collection for sale in see-now, buy-now fashion, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to Fridays for Future (environmentalist Greta Thunberg’s nonprofit organization).
Looks from Wolk Morais Spring 2021 collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Wolk Morais)
While some designers are just releasing lookbook style images, others like Brian Wolk and Claude Morais, the duo behind the label Wolk Morais, are creating attention grabbing short films. For 26 nights the duo drove around Los Angeles pulling up the homes of several friends in the industry, from models and actors to fashion consultants, handed them a bag of clothes, and then filmed them without ever leaving their car.
In an interview with Vogue, where you can also exclusively watch the video, Wolk explained, “we wanted to create a collection that was not only responsible and sustainable, but also content that tells a story about what’s going on right now.”
The duo stayed true to their specialty: fabulous tailoring. And the collection had plenty of it. Herringbone tweed suits, double-breasted waistcoats, cropped jackets and a slew of Liberty print shirts (all of fabrics were upcycled or sourced within a 12 mile radius of their studio). But among all the haberdashery, there were a few glamorous looks as well. Case in point, a 1930s inspired sequin bias-cut gown, a perfect look for any young starlet.
Tomo Koizumi is known for creating jaw-dropping fashion moments that are so breathtakingly beautiful that one cannot help but feel an emotional connection to. For his spring collection, the avant-garde designer produced a creative lookbook photographed in Japan. Koizumi’s work blends his frothy confections with aspects of traditional Japanese culture. The designer collaborated with a bridal company and was inspired by wedding traditions. There was an assortment of eccentric white gowns with explosions of tulle.
Koizumi also showed plenty of rainbow-hued party dresses, cropped tops and miniskirts – all created with a new ruffling technique which created a more flower or starburst affect. It was all so fun and creative, that one cannot help but smile when looking at his creations.
Living in such uncertain times, the pandemic has forced us all to search our souls and figure out who we want to be moving forward; many believe that the world should not go back to the way it was. It is during these times that we need uplifting, more and art and beauty to inspire us. This season, Ulla Johnson staged a full-on fashion show that was audience-less at Roosevelt Island’s Four Freedoms Park. The backdrop, Manhattan’s skyscrapers, provided a familiar backdrop, a reminder of the strength and resilience of the city, while we all may have lost a lot this year, we are, as Governor Cuomo says, “New York Strong.”
The level of workmanship and the philosophy involved in Ulla Johnson’s intricate collection was best stated by the designer herself. In an interview with Vogue, Johnson stated, “We’ve all been doing a lot of deep soul searching about the relevancy of what we do—the runway being one component, but also just clothing in general. For us we’re committed more than ever to creating this transportive beauty and continuing our commitment to craft.” Consider the collection’s look one and two, which were entirely hand-crafted outside the U.S., in countries heavily impacted by the pandemic and done so safely over a five-month period.
The collection was filled with Johnson’s signature bohemian inspired frocks, acid wash denim jumpsuits, billowing sleeved tops and ruffled waist trousers. The designer delivered a joyous, wearable collection even during the most difficult of times.
A look from Tom Ford’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo: Courtesy of Tom Ford)
The spring 2021 trend of joyful clothes continued as Tom Ford closed out New York Fashion Week. After months of isolation, Ford wanted his spring collection to bring hope. According to an interview with Vogue, Ford stated “The last thing I want to see are serious clothes. I think we need an escape. I think we want to smile. I know what’s going on in our world right now doesn’t make us want to smile. So that’s what I’ve done: hopeful clothes that make you smile.”
Ford’s collection was full of glamour and gusto as he found inspiration in a documentary about the fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez and the ’70s models Pat Cleveland and Donna Jordan, whom Lopez sketched. The Seventies inspired collection was a throwback to his days at Gucci, and it was oh so fabulous. The collection oozed sexiness with shirts that were unbuttoned to the navel and paired with pull-on logo waistband trousers, slinky dresses in colorful florals, spicy animal print jumpsuits and glamorous swimsuits and caftans. After all, isn’t over-the-top glam what Tom Ford does best?
Have you been watching the shows? Care to share your fav?
It didn’t take a global pandemic to know that the retail sector of the fashion industry was in trouble. Over the past few years we have all watched traditional retail stores fail, as more and more consumers started to spend more of their time and money shopping online. No one seemed exempt from bankruptcy, both specialty and department stores alike. Barneys New York, Jeffrey’s, Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney and Lord & Taylor have all declared bankruptcy. These closures not only affected retailers and their staff, but also hurt the pockets of many designers, especially smaller, independent designers, who were able to get their start from these stores. Even mega-retail chains have been struggling with declining in-store shoppers, astronomical rents, and debt. Unfortunately this trickle down effect results in cancelled orders and invoices that are left unpaid, a burden the brand must take on.
Even before COVID-19 hit and the economy was thriving, the wholesale system was hurting many designers and running their business to the ground. Department stores constantly pressured designers to create something new and exclusive for them, but in the end, it was never really worth it for the designer and they only obliged to keep the department stores happy and hopefully keep their orders coming.
Many designers started to realize that the traditional wholesale model wasn’t working for them and began to ask the question…what’s next?
Today, young designers are looking for creative outlets to present their pieces to potential consumers. For many, the direct-to-consumer model has been a successful one. But for others, they view the benefits of a wholesale partnership as a vital step towards creating brand awareness and building a customer base, whether their goods are in a brick-and-mortar store or on a retailer’s site.
There are a few new and exciting options surfacing for brands that value the exposure that multi-branded retailers offer, but where designers can still take control of their inventory. Many retailers are operating on a ‘retail-as-service’ business model, which means that rather than purchasing inventory from brands, they may lease out space and/or provide logistical and marketing support for a fee, in addition to potentially taking a commission on sales.
Here are a few platforms and marketplaces that young designers are excited about:
Inside Neighborhood Goods. (Photo Credit: D Magazine)
Neighborhood Goods is an innovative alternative to the traditional department store model. The store provides brands with a low risk and less expensive way to test the waters of the physical retail model. Neighborhood Goods charges brands a small fee to display their designs in one or several of its physical locations (Austin and Plano, Texas and New York City), as well as on their e-commerce site where the retailer also takes a percentage of sales.
Neighborhood Goods features an experiential, appealingly-designed format with excellent customer service and even frequent food pop-ups. In April, in response to COVID-19, Neighborhood Goods launched The Commons, a section dedicated to featuring small brands who were negatively impacted by the pandemic, at no cost to their struggling businesses.
Neighborhood Goods’ smart business model, and $11 million in venture capital, put it in a stronger position than most to weather the current retail storm. According to co-founder Matt Alexander in an interview with Fashionista.com, “In an industry struggling to adapt to the future, this whole crisis is going to accelerate the prevailing winds in the retail industry, and we end up being in a relatively good spot on the other side.“
An image from The Yes shopping app. (Photo Credit: Vogue)
The Yes is the brainchild of fashion and tech veterans Taylor Tomasi-Hill (Street-style star and Fashion Market Editor at Teen Vogue and W Magazine to name a few), Julie Bornstein (StitchFix, Nordstrom, Sephora) and Amit Aggarwal (Google, Bing, Groupon). The mobile shopping platform carries well established brands, as well as young designers ranging from Prada to Khaite.
Every brand has its own storefront in the app and The Yes uses dropship, meaning it doesn’t hold its own inventory. The site collects a share of revenue from each sale made through the app. The Yes also uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to personalize every user’s feed in real time. For example, when you click “yes” on a style, you will see a variety of similar looks.
Shopify launches Shop, a new mobile app. (Photo Credit: TechCrunch)
Shop is another mobile shopping site and describes itself as your personal “shopping assistant.” The site was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic by Shopify, it’s a go-to tool for independent brands and retailers setting up e-commerce.
This savvy site allows shoppers to shop numerous retailers all in one place. One unique feature is that the app allows shoppers to locate and shop businesses that are local to them, but only if they use Shopify. The site also offers speedy checkout and helps the consumer track and receive updates on all orders.
Showfields NYC. (Photo Credit: Time Out)
With a brick-and-mortar store in New York City, and a soon to open Miami location, Showfields’ goal is to curate innovative, unconventional, and relevant digitally native brands in one giant, highly Instagramable space. The store frequently hosts new and exciting events and initiatives to engage consumers and create a buzz. And so far they have done it successfully even through quarantine.
The top floor of Showfields is used as a community space with food and events that have ranged from theatrical performances and art installations to fundraisers and digital discussions. American Express has also sponsored a special curation of Black-owned brands; the credit card company is only charging brands membership fees, but the brands keep 100% of their sales.
A look inside Re:store. (Photo Credit: Re:store)
Selena Cruz, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, recently opened the doors to Re:store in San Francisco, CA. The store positioned itself somewhat of a WeWork space for unique, saught-after, online-only or difficult-to-find brands. Re:store carries many millennial-targeting labels that are popular on Instagram, all together on one space. Of course the store is very cool and Instagrammable, which of course draws in the millennials.
Brands pay only $350 a month as well as a 20% commission to hold a space on the experimental retail floor. RE:store also offers a community workspace offering young brands to work with and interact with their customers, all in the heart of Downtown San Francisco for a fraction of the price. The opportunity for these brands to connect with their customers is priceless, particularly those for whom this is their brick-and-mortar debut.
Hand-painted boots by Zigzaggoods on Depop. (Photo Credit: Craft Industry Alliance)
Depop is a new digital marketplace for handmade items that Gen Z designers are excited about. The fun and eccentric online mall has a young demographic; of its 21-million users 90% are age 26 or younger—members of Gen Z, the first all-digital generation. The site looks a lot like Instagram, so it’s very familiar and easy to use. It’s a sellers’ lifestyle shown in images. In a recent New York Magazine poll teenagers voted Depop the top marketplace for buying resale goods (over Etsy and eBay). If you’re interested in reaching a young demographic, it’s definitely worth a look.
Depop’s CEO, Maria Raga believes in supporting the growth of young entrepreneurs. “I view my role as more than just running a company. It’s about helping young sellers fulfill their passions, stretch their business skills, and become independent business owners who create fashion trends,” she said in an interview with Fashionista.com. Another plus, Depop only takes a flat 10% fee on each transaction, including shipping.
In the coming months and years, post Covid, retailers will be looking to up-and coming designers for ideas on how to give consumers what they want. Stay tuned…
So tell us, what are you doing to get your brand out there?
Fashion and Substainability. (Photo Credit: Miss Owl)
DO YOU HAVE A CLEAR FASHION CONSCIENCE?
If you’re like us, you probably spent some of your Covid lockdown time cleaning out your closets (and if you didn’t you should). How many of you have a clear fashion conscience? Was every purchase justified? Or, did you discover that some of the clothes and shoes in your closet you never wore, not even once? Or maybe you wore them only twice? Well, it’s time to take stock of your buying habits and your carbon footprint. To get a clear fashion conscience, next time you’re thinking of making purchase, ask yourself, “am I doing all I could to help”?
THE POLLUTION INDUSTRY
The fashion industry is one of the biggest culprits in causing pollution and damage ing our earth. By 2030, it is predicted that the industry’s water consumption will increase by 50 percent to 118 billion cubic meters (or 31.17 trillion gallons). Its carbon footprint will increase to 2,791 million tons and the amount of waste it creates will hit 148 million tons, according to The Fashion Law website (TFL).
Today more than ever, designers, brands and retailers are looking for ways to reduce their negative impact on the environment. Brands are embracing sustainable cotton initiatives to: reduce water, energy and chemical use; new dyeing technology to reduce water consumption by up to 50 percent; as well as numerous energy and chemical saving schemes throughout the supply chain. In the UK, the result of this work is percolating through to retailers, with a reduction in the carbon and water footprints per ton of clothing of 8 percent and 7 percent respectively since 2012, according to TFL.
The movement towards eco fashion is growing quickly. Followers of the movement believe that the fashion industry has an obligation to place environmental, social, and ethical improvements in their practices at every level of the supply chain. One of the goals of sustainable fashion is to create a thriving ecosystem and enriched communities through its activity. Some examples of this include: prolonging the lifecycle of materials; increasing the value of timeless garments; reducing the amount of waste; and reducing the harm to the environment created as a result of producing clothing.
Why Sustainable in Fashion Matters. (Photo Credit: Sustainable Fashion Academy)
Textile designers around the world are looking for innovative techniques to produce fabrics in a sustainable manner. There are a few pioneering companies that are creating innovative textiles, such as biodegradable glitter and fabrics created from seaweed. Here are a few companies that are making a big difference.
The company Algiknit produces textile fibres extracted from kelp, a variety of seaweed. The extrusion process turns the biopolymer mixture into kelp-based thread that can be knitted or 3D printed to minimize waste. The final knitwear is biodegradable and can be dyed with natural pigments in a closed loop cycle.
BioGlitz produces the world’s first biodegradable glitter. Based on a unique biodegradable formula made from eucalyptus tree extract, the eco-glitter is fully biodegradable, compostable and allows for the sustainable consumption of glitter without the environmental damage associated with micro plastics.
Flocus produces natural yarns, fillings and fabrics made from kapok fibers. The kapok tree can be naturally grown without the use of pesticides and insecticide in arid soil not suitable for agricultural farming, offering a sustainable alternative to high water consumption natural fiber crops such as cotton.
Frumat uses apples to create a leather-like material. Apple pectin is an industrial waste product which can be used to create sustainable materials that are completely compostable, while still being durable enough to create luxurious accessories. The leathers can be dyed naturally and tanned without chemically intensive techniques.
DriTan is taking sustainable steps towards water-free leather manufacturing. The technology was developed by ECCO Leather and uses the moisture present in the hides as a key step in their tanning process. This innovative technology will change the leather industry and save 25 million liters of water a year. This technique also minimizes the discharge of waste water and the use of chemicals.
Mylo is a sustainable leather grown from mycelium, which has its root structure in mushrooms. In nature, mycelium grows underground in soil, forming networks of threads that help recycle organic matter on the forest floor, while providing nutrients to plants and trees. The threads interweave and self-assemble themselves into a 3D matrix that can spread for miles. Bolt Threads Mylo material looks like hand-crafted leather and shares leather’s warm touch and suppleness. Mylo can be produced in days, without the need for animal hides or the toxic chemicals used in the production of synthetic leathers.
Recycrom is turning waste into colors by building on its “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” mission. Recycrom is a patented, sustainable range of synthetic colored dyestuff powders made from 100% recycled textile cotton waste and textile scraps from used clothing and manufacturing waste. The dyes utilize eco-sustainable inputs without using chemical dyes and harming the environment. When dyed using Recycrom colors, the fabrics have a washed-out and natural look that complements today’s current fashion trends. Brands can collaborate with the inventors at Officina+39 to make Recycrom custom dyes using a manufacturers’ own scraps/textile waste.
THE ECO MOVEMENT IS GROWING
While creating sustainable textiles is only one step to creating an eco-friendly brand, it’s refreshing to see so many fashion companies looking for ways to make a global impact on the environment. Stella McCartney has been ahead of the movement and has always produced her collections in an ethical manner. Today fashion brands have plenty of choices to reduce their carbon footprint.
Stella McCartney’s Spring 2020 Ad Campaign. (Photo Credit: Stella McCartney)
So tell us, what are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint?
Could This be the Key to Bringing Manufacturing Back Home?
If you are a faithful University of Fashion blog-reader, then you know that we’re BIG proponents of preserving the art & craft of fashion design through our vast library of hands-on lessons, lectures and computer design lessons. Since our launch in 2013 we now have 500 videos from which anyone can learn. And learn they do. We are proud to say that tens of thousands of students, teachers and aspiring designers from 144 countries are actively using our site, a 45% increase over last year, mainly due to Covid-19 and the switch to distance learning classes at many schools.
Another reason we started UoF was to promote domestic manufacturing, with a special focus on sustainability. Thankfully, here in the U.S., we are seeing more and more companies bringing their production back home. And in many cases it’s upstart designers who are leading the pack.
3D Design, Fabrics and Materials
We also believe that 3D design software will be a major factor in helping us reach our goals of a greener planet by making less samples and by pre-selling clothing and accessories from 3D avatars on a computer, iPad, phone and/or from a virtual runway show.
However, one of the biggest hurdles with 3D design software has been the ability to capture the realisticdrape of different types of fabrics and a limited fabric library to choose and design from. Well, we are happy to report…the times, they are a changin’
Of the several 3D software and scanning providers out there, this blog post will focus on advances by Browzwear (one of the providers of 3D software noted in the UoF 3D series) and Vizoo (a provider for scanning and digitizing materials), and on key developments in their partnership.
Browzwear’s and Vizoo’s Announcement
Browzwear has extended its partnership with Vizoo and is taking it a step further. The raw physical data, extracted by the Fabric Analyzer by Browzwear (FAB), can be utilized in VStitcher and combined with U3M software from Vizoo. The U3M data from Vizoo contains color and texture information about the material or fabric. The main differentiation in this release is the ability to extract raw data from FAB, in addition to material standardization. The software file format is a new open source file format called U3M Version 1.1. Therefore, it allows for the combination of visual and physical material information in one source.
Browzwear and Vizoo have committed to being open source platforms, which creates visual alignment across different applications and is a key development for the industry. For an industry not known for working together and only sharing in-house, this could change the industry and ultimately benefit customers.
Browzwear has created a growing ecosystem of partners to input assets (scanning, avatars), workflow management (PLM) and output data (merchandising, rendering, animations). Vizoo is in discussions with other 3D CAD providers on how to read FAB data and extract measurements.
Vizoo and other scanning companies will scan materials for their customers or provide rental of their scanners to increase access to material scanning across the industry.
Why is Material Modeling So Important?
(Image Courtesy: Material Exchange) (Image Courtesy: Swatchbook)
The next frontier in 3D design is to understand and model materials. For designers to truly embrace 3D, the garments on the avatars need to closely emulate the fabrics in real life. Fabrics are considered a subset of materials. Going beyond the color and texture of the fabric, to capture the soft physics of the fabric, allows for the designer’s vision to be truly communicated and gives the designer confidence on their creations in the 3D visualization. The key soft physics of the fabrics include the stretching and bending properties, which are in part dependent upon fabric thickness.
Current travel restrictions have disrupted the industry and changed how business is done. For material suppliers, a digital representation of their fabrics will be key in communicating with brands and designers. Global digital databases are becoming key resources for brands and designers, such as the Material Exchange and Swatchbook, which include not only the physical material information, but also the attributes needed in PLM systems. The digital representations will not replace the actual touch and feel of fabric but will reduce the need to send multiple fabric samples before candidates are finally chosen.
Two Main Types of Material Scanners
Scanning of materials or fabrics for 3D CAD can be divided into two main categories: scans for color and material texture, and another for physical properties that capture how a material will drape.
Color scans are rendered using different techniques of computer graphics. The goal is to render a photorealistic simulation. To do this, one needs to accurately model the flow of light in the real world. Some of the qualities of the material that impact the flow of light include: diffuse color (or base color), specular color (reflected highlights), roughness of the material, or transparency of the material (solid or like glass). These values can be impacted by material type, such as organics (hair, fur, skin texture), metals or very shiny materials, transparent materials, or plastics. The lighting selected will also impact the rendering – ambient light, full sunlight, and lighting at various angles.
Samples of Materials available for download on the U3M website, on the left (Houndstooth), on the right (Big Knit Jacquard). There is even a black glossy leather sample for review. (Images Courtesy: https://www.u3m.info/)
What Exactly is Soft Physics?
Soft physics is a field of computer graphics that focuses on visually realistic simulations of materials that are easily deformed. Materials such as gels and fabrics, retain their shape after use, but will change while being worn through draping, gathering, bunching, etc. Therefore, to fully model the material in 3D, the stretch and bend of the fabric needs to be understood. A good example is the difference between silk or cotton or sketch fabrics. In other words, 3D simulations need to capture how the finished garment will react to the chosen fabric.
In August 2020 Cotton Incorporated’s CottonWorks ™, announced the launch of 3D downloadable digital files, taking cotton apparel design to the next level. The FABRICAST ™ collection offers designers and product developers working with two popular design programs, Browzwear and CLO, access to inspirational and inventive cotton and cotton-rich fabrics for the collaborative design process.
Cotton digital fabric files can be downloaded for CLO and Browzwear programs at cottonworks.com, the cotton resource for textile professionals. CottonWorks ™ is a go-to textile tool for discovering what’s possible with cotton. From fiber and manufacturing education to sustainability facts to fabric inspiration and trend forecasting, cottonworks.com has the resources the industry needs to stay in motion.
Cotton Incorporated’s CottonWorks ™, a resource for textile professionals, launches 3D downloadable digital files, taking cotton apparel design to the next level. The FABRICAST ™ collection offers designers and product developers working with two popular design programs access to inspirational and inventive cotton and cotton-rich fabrics for the collaborative design process.
According to Cotton Inc., “The work-at-home environment, this year, propelled many companies to search for more digital solutions in all aspects of the business including the already emerging 3D design programs.”
And Krista Schreiber, a veteran industry designer and digital supply chain consultant, stated that “3D technology offers a great solution for digital design, fit, merchandising, and marketing. When you connect that digitally with sourcing and manufacturing, we have a winning combination for the apparel industry.”
For the Textile Geeks
A detailed discussion, The Measurement of Fabric Properties for Virtual Simulation – A critical review, is available on the IEEE 3D Body Processing Industry Connections site. This paper compares six different fabric physics measuring systems: Kawabata Evaluation System (KES), Fabric Assurance by Simple Testing (FAST), Fabric Touch Tester (FTT), CLO Fabric Kit 2.0, Fabric Analyzer by Browzwear (FAB), and Optitex Mark 10. It was published February 2020. The focus of the paper is on the hardware and raw physics results. Authors are from Amsterdam Fashion Institute, Netherlands; University of Art and Design Linz, Austria; and University of Manchester, UK.
In summary, the future of materials is digital and will play an important role in the 3D ecosystem. Are you ready?