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Young Designers Are Finally Taking Over New York Fashion Week

- - Fashion Shows

TOMMYXZENDAYA Fall 2019 block party at the Apollo Theater in Harlem (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

The excitement and thrill of New York fashion week has come to an end, and while all the names we know and love have put on fabulous shows and parties, such as Prabal Gurung’s chic 10th Anniversary showing, Tommy Hilfiger and Zendaya’s block-party show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem (see image above), and Tom Ford’s subway tunnel show, we are finally getting to see some new ‘fashion blood’ getting attention.

Unlike any other city in the world, New York has always been a melting pot of diverse cultures and ideas, so fittingly, the city that kicks off fashion month has embraced a handful of CFDA-approved emerging designers that are about to take off.

TELFAR 

Telfar Clemens, right, at Telfar’s Spring 2020 NYFW party (Photo courtesy of WWD)

Telfar Clemens, known for his non-gender collections,  launched his namesake brandin 2005, however, he finally received recognition in 2017 when he became the winner of the coveted CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award.  For Spring 2020 he will be showing in Paris on Sept. 24th, but Clemens did not forget about the city that launched his career and hosted two parties, one with the beloved retailer Opening Ceremony, and the second, a party that doubled as a screening of his film.

According to WWD, “Guests got their first glimpse of the designer’s new collection in a six-minute clip of a film scripted by “Slave Play” writer Jeremy O. Harris and artist Juliana Huxtable that will be shown in Paris as part of the show.”

“Are you a citizen of united communities?” was one of the questions posed in the dialogue as characters walked through airport security, or stood on buoys in open water with the Manhattan skyline behind them.

As for the clothes in the film, there were plenty of utility-inspired looks, thigh-hole track pants and Budweiser silk printed shirts alongside Telfar’s new jewelry range that plays on his initials “TC,” and popular logo-embossed tote bags.

PYER MOSS

Pyer Moss’ Spring 2020 runway look (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Another CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner is Kerby Jean-Raymond, the designer behind the label Pyer Moss. The young designer has become a storyteller. Season after season he creates a collection based on the history and popular culture within the African American community. For spring 2020 he did not disappoint and his show was one of the most buzzed about shows of the week.

The show took place at the King Theater in Brooklyn, titled: Sister, the third and final chapter in the Pyer Moss trilogy, inspired by Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A singer-songwriter who rose to popularity in the 1930s and ’40s, Tharpe is considered to be the godmother of rock and roll, though her legacy has been diminished. “I think relatively few people know that the sound of rock and roll was invented by a queer black woman in a church,” said Jean-Raymond backstage during a Vogue interview, moments after the show. “I wanted to explore what that aesthetic might have looked like if her story would have been told.”

The show opened with a powerful sermon delivered by writer Casey Gerald, who is known for his incisive social commentary, it was both uplifting and unapologetically political, referencing the anniversary of slavery in America.  Then a choir of about 70 voices broke into song and the show began. The musical references were loud and clear with a guitar motif that was threaded through curvy lapels of satin overcoats, and the most literal reference was a novelty guitar-shaped handbag, as well as the keyboard print trim on a puff-sleeve blouse.  Jean-Raymond also gave a shout-out to the hip-hop era, which is not surprising considering his new role as artistic director at Reebok.

 

TOMO KOIZUMI

Tomo Koizumi’s Spring 2020 creation (Photo courtesy of designer)

Last winter, Tomo Koizumi’s frothy confections caught the attention of stylist extraordinaire Katie Grand. She quickly contacted the avant-garde designer and had him flown to NY to debut his creations during the Fall 2020 shows.  For his sophomore collection, Marc Jacobs has once again graciously lent his atelier for Tomo Koizumi to use, as well as his Madison Avenue boutique for Koizumi to present his latest innovative pieces. It’s so refreshing to see designers who have made it, help and embrace the newcomers.

Tomo Koizumi’s clothes are far from the ready-to-wear looks that NY fashion week showcases; his pieces are costume pieces that provoke and inspire the audience. Koizumi casted 18-year-old trans model Ariel Nicholson for his one-woman show. The presentation showcased Nicholson dressing and undressing in seven garments as she twirled around center stage. Each frothy look was made of hundreds of meters of ruffled Japanese polyester organza that utilize only one zipper. The construction is spectacular, as ruffles and bows cascade over each other like cupcake frosting.

In an interview with Vogue the designer said, he chose the bow motif because he wanted the collection to represent his gift back to the people who made him. “I just want to bring joy,” he said simply. Mission accomplished.

KHAITE

Khaite’s Spring 2020 runway look (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

There are very few young designers who can balance retail success with being an editorial favorite, but Catherine Holstein, the designer behind the coveted Khaite (pronounced Kate) label has managed to do both. The core of her business, or as Holstein refers to them as “cherished items,” are in her jeans, shirtings and knits. And yes, Holstein in responsible for the internet frenzy of Katie Holmes’ $520 cashmere bra and cardigan; both items which immediately sold out on Khaite’s website.

For her spring show, Holstein showed a few of Khaite’s cult favorite lux basics, but, rather than playing it safe, Holstein opted for experimental pieces that were charming and at times, flashy.

Holstein’s collection was inspired by her childhood summers at her grandmother’s house in Woodstock, Vermont; so fittingly there were plenty of plaids and florals that were reminiscent of the home’s late 60’s furnishings, but with a modern and cool twist.  Key looks included a suede fringe jacket, peplum tops over denim, a deconstructed suit, and a corset top over a satin sarong.

Let’s give the fashion industry and the CFDA a round of applause for finally stepping up to the plate to support emerging designers. Not only have the shows included a full range of diverse models on the runway (ethnic, size, and gender diversity) but they are demonstrating an ‘all inclusive’ range of designers into their ‘club.’ A nice message especially in such divisive times. Let’s see how responsive brands across the pond respond in kind.

So tell us, who’s your favorite up-and-coming designer and why?

 

 

STAYING SILENT IS OUT – FASHION ACTIVISM IS IN

Prabal Gurung created political statement T-shirts that were worn by social media influencers and street style stars during NY Fashion Week 2017.  From Left to right: Shea Marie, Caroline Vreeland , Bryanboy, Tina Craig, Irene Kim,  Aimee Song  and Chriselle Lim . (Photo Courtesy of Forbes.com)

The Men’s Spring 2020 shows have just wrapped up, and while the runways were filled with plenty of notable trends, such as soft suiting at Givenchy, gender bending at Comme des Garçons, nautical looks at Prada, and romantic prints at Louis Vuitton  – the one trend that has been gaining momentum is the “designer as activist.” Fashion activism is nothing new. In the 1930s the Keffiyeh became a symbol of political uprising and rebellion. In the 1960s, designers gave us peace symbol T-shirts in protest of the Vietnam war,  and mini-skirts, which became the symbol for women’s rights and sexual liberation. In 2017, Cosmopolitan listed 22 designers who used their runway shows to promote a particular cause or in protest of global injustice. From pussy hats to white bandanas with the hashtag #TiedTogether (a symbol of inclusivity and acceptance), according to designer Talbot Runhof, “If you have a platform to say something and you don’t, then shame on you.” In the age of social media and the internet, where opinions and messages are delivered in lightning speed, designers, actors and other influencers feel duty-bound and a certain responsibility to bring attention to the relationship between fashion, politics and social change.

Here are a few noteworthy designers who have shown more than just clothes on their runways, past & present.

OFF-WHITE

Virgil Abloh has developed a cult following with his collections for Off-White and the brand is worn by street style stars around the globe. For his men’s Spring 2020 show, Abloh focused on the negative effects of plastic and saving the environment. According to Abloh, “Plastic: once hailed as a miracle material, now condemned as a major pollutant — and possibly about to be considered a work of art.” The show’s invite was a clear plastic invitation with the words “plastic” printed on it.  Abloh believes plastic can be recycled and used to create something beautiful, such as art. Plastic even made its way in the collection with plastic rain gear and a hazmat suit.

As for the clothes, Abloh looks to street art for inspiration and tapped Futura, a contemporary of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, for the prints in this collection, case in point, a hand-painted white coat, top and pant look.To address his environmental concerns, Abloh featured an aquatic theme throughout the collection with shades of blue tie dye prints and amoeba-shaped appliqué motifs on knits.

The show ended with the models stomping through a beautiful field of white carnations that was created for the show. Abloh’s message was load and clear, we must protect our environment.

Virgil Abloh at his men’s Fall 2020 Off-White Collection. (Photo courtesy of theguardian.com)

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney has been one of the biggest advocates of the environment, a pioneer of sustainable fashion and an animal rights activist, since the creation of her namesake label in 2001.  McCartney Men’s 2020 collection was presented in a lush garden in Milan’s city center. According to Vogue.com, McCartney stated, “Let’s just forget fashion for a moment and savor all the natural beauty around us and talk about flowers!”

McCartney focused on playful tailoring, hand-printed silk shirts, ties and shorts with horse motifs, lightweight dusters and loose-fitting jumpsuits with satellite Earth prints and of course a collection that was fur free. McCartney kept the collection light and humorous, but her fight to save the earth is a serious one.

Stella McCartney’s Fall 2020 Men’s Collection. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Pyer Moss

Herby Jean-Raymond launched his menswear label Pyer Moss in 2013 and followed up with a women’s collection shortly thereafter. In the few seasons Jean-Raymond has been presenting, the designer has quickly become known for his social activist stands. Most notably, he is inspired by the heritage of African-Americans, as well as social issues that this community faces today.

Pyer Moss Spring 2019. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dior

In July 2016 Dior announced that Maria Grazia Chiuri would be the first female creative director at Dior. Chiuri has been making political statements ever since.  T-shirts screen printed with “We Should All Be Feminists” and “Dio(R)evolution” were sold with proceeds going to Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation, which fights against injustice, inequality & poverty and promotes access to education.

Christian Dior Spring 2017 Collection. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Women’s Rights

Fall 2017 was a big season for designers to speak out about social injustice. Attendees at Missoni’s Fall show each received pink pussy hats (madefamous by the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017). Guests proudly wore the hats, as did the models during the finale.

According to Angela Missoni, creative director for the label, their message for Fall 2017 was all about “femininity in our times, prepared to confront the conflicts and dilemmas of our contemporary society: the conditions, needs, and rights of all women and minorities.”

Missoni’s Fall 2017 Show. (Photo courtesy of DailyNation.com)

Rio Uribe, the designer behind Gypsy Sport, gave a passionate speech before his show which focused on homelessness and refugee tent cities. “I wanted to talk to you guys a little bit about my show,” he said from a mic backstage. “The Fall/Winter ’17 collection was inspired honestly by people who live on the street and just don’t have much fashion in their life or any of the luxuries that we take for granted. … I don’t want anyone who is gay, or Muslim, or disabled, or mentally ill, or a veteran, or a drug addict, or a runaway to have to live on the street just because someone’s not willing to give them a chance.”

Gypsy Sport Fall 2017 Show. (Photo courtesy of cosmopolitan.com)

Prabal Gurung created “The Future is Female” T-shirt for his Fall 2017 show. According to Gurung, “So to me feminism is not just a trending topic. It’s the only way I’ve known, even before I knew what [feminism] was.”

Bella Hadid sporting Prabal Gurung’s feminist T-shirt at his Spring 2017 show. (Photo courtesy of Forbes.com)

“All-inclusive” hit an all-time high in Fall 2017 as Christian Siriano enlisted models of all sizes to walk his runway show, from plus-size & petite to curvy, as well as plenty of racially diverse women. The 2008 Project Runway winner consistently speaks out against fashion magazines’ unrealistic body standards that are set by the modeling industry. He believes designers have the power to change this by adjusting their hiring process and sizing.

A plus sized model walks Christian Siriano’s show during his 2017 fashion show. (Photo courtesy of cosmopolitan.com)

During Tommy Hilfiger’s 2017 extravaganza in Venice Beach, models strutted down the runway wearing white bandanas as part of Business of Fashion’s #TiedTogether initiative. According to Business of Fashion founder and CEO Imran Amed, this campaign encouraged people to wear the colorless handkerchief “to make a clear statement in support of human unity and inclusiveness amidst growing uncertainty and a dangerous narrative peddling division.”

#TiedTogether Bandanas Hit Runway for First Time at Tommy Hilfiger. (Photo courtesy of Hollywoodreporter.com)

Also in 2017,  The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) partnered with Planned Parenthood to launch the “Fashion Stands With Planned Parenthood” campaign to raise awareness about women’s health care during New York Fashion Week.

Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour sporting a Planned Parenthood badge. (Photo courtesy of 14urban.com)

At the New York Spring 2018 shows, a “Get out and Vote” message dominated in advance of the U.S. mid term elections.

Prabal Gurung walks the runway in a Vote T-shirt show during New York Fashion Week Spring 2018. (Photo courtesy of Glamour.com)

Going Fur Free

While Stella McCartney has been creating fur-free and leather-free clothes for years, many designers have now jumped on the bandwagon.

As of September 2018, Burberry announced that it would also be going fur-free, a big move ever since Riccardo Tisci became the creative director for the label. The brand will no longer be using rabbit, fox, mink, and Asiatic raccoon fur, though they will still feature angora, shearling, and leather.

Burberry goes fur free as of Sept. 2018. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

Shockingly, in March 2018, Donatella Versace announced that she would no longer be using fur in her collections. “Fur? I am out of that. I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion. It doesn’t feel right,” she told 1843 magazine.

Versace goes fur free. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

In June 2017, protesters interrupted a live interview with Michael Kors at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, with signs that read “Michael Kors has blood on his hands.” This prompted Michael Kors to announce that his company would be going fur free as of December 2018.

Michael Kors goes fur free. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

In October 2017, Gucci announced it would be going fur-free as well. Alessandro Michele is opting for sustainable alternatives to create his “grandma-chic” vibe. Prada also added their name to the fur-free list as of 2020.

Gucci goes fur free. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

Following in the footsteps of San Francisco and Los Angeles, New York is now considering a ban on fur as well, however, there is a lot of push back. One of the oldest industries in New York City dating back to when Henry Hudson explored the region in 1609 and found French traders bartering for furs with Native Americans. New York became a thriving trading post of beaver and other skins that traveled through New York Harbor and to Europe. In fact, the official New York crest includes beavers, whose valuable pelts helped fuel the early fur trade. Stay tuned!

Designers with a History of Rocking the Boat

English fashion designer Katherine Hamnett is best known for her political T-shirts and ethical business philosophy. In 1983 she stated, “If you want to get the message out there, you should print it in giant letters on a T-shirt.” Celebrities such as George Michael (who was part of Wham at the time) wore one of her “Choose Life” tees in a music video for “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Roger Taylor of Queen, wore her “WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR BAN NOW” T-shirt during Queen’s historic appearance at the first edition of the Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro.

Political T-shirts by Katharine Hamnett. (Photo courtesy of lovewildlivefree.com)

Vivienne Westwood is another British fashion designer and businesswoman, who was largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashion into the mainstream. Westwood has retail shops worldwide and sells a variety of merchandise; some of it linked to her many political causes, such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, climate change and civil rights groups.

Vivienne Westwood Red Label SS14 fashion show. (Photo courtesy of Alan Davidson/The Picture Library LTD.)

In 2000, John Galliano created one of the most controversial fashion shows ever. For his Christian Dior Haute Couture collection, Galliano was inspired by the Paris homeless. As a master of shock value, his message rang loud and clear in a city of beauty and glamour. The show created such controversy that homeless activists picketed outside the Dior headquarters and riot police had to be called in to deal with the protesters. As a result, Dior’s flagship was closed for two hours and Galliano had to issue an apology statement,  “I never wanted to make a spectacle of misery.”

Christian Dior by John Galliano, spring/summer 2000 haute couture show. (Photo courtesy of newyorktimes.com)

Alexander McQueen’s inspiring showmanship is greatly missed, ever since his suicide on February 11, 2010. For the late designer’s Fall 2009 collection, McQueen took an environmental stance on the runway as his models dressed in fiercely tailored coats, boxy jackets and airy gazar dresses walked around a heap of trash. McQueen even referenced trash in some of his looks such as aluminum can accessories.  It was all so hauntingly beautiful.

Alexander McQueen’s  Fall 2009 ready-to-wear women’s collection during Paris Fashion Week. (Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol)

Karl Lagerfeld is another designer who is greatly missed for his theatrics. The late designer passed away on February 19, 2019 in Paris. For his Spring 2015 collection, Lagerfeld took a feminist stance and created a playful protest for woman’s equality. According to Vogue.com, “ Cara Delevingne and Caroline de Maigret had megaphones in hand as a parade of models including Kendall Jenner, Georgia May Jagger, Edie Campbell, Joan Smalls, and even Gisele Bündchen, brandished signs that read “History is Her Story,” “Feminism Not Masochism,” “We Can Match the Machos” and “Ladies First.” Even male model Baptiste Giabiconi waved a “He For She” banner, which just might be our favorite nod to Emma Watson’s global UN campaign yet. Perhaps the “Free Freedom” sign was a winking nod to Free the Nipple, the cause du jour for models like Delevingne, who opened the show and Kendall Jenner, who Instagrammed about it post show. “I’m Every Woman” blared from the speakers, and everyone danced in their seats.”

Chanel spring 2015 collection. (Photo courtesy of elle.com)

While some fashion critics predicted a worldwide boycott of Nike products after their controversial “Just Do It” campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, they were proven wrong when the company reported a 10 percent jump in income. It turns out that millennials expect companies to take a position on social and political issues.

TELL US, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU THAT BRANDS TAKE A STAND ON SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ?

Introducing the CFDA’s Young Guns

Mike Amiri, Kristopher Brock, Nadja Swarovski, Aurora James, and Kerby Jean-Raymond - Photo courtesy of WWD.com

Mike Amiri, Kristopher Brock, Nadja Swarovski, Aurora James, and Kerby Jean-Raymond – Photo courtesy of WWD.com

As fashion educators and bloggers, we have a responsibility to cover important events in our industry—for example, the recent 2018 CFDA Fashion Awards—even when the CFDA honors Kim Kardashian (GASP!) with the CFDA Influencer Award. While we are still a little stumped on that decision, we are thrilled to introduce you to the honored newcomers to the fashion industry – also known as the five nominees for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent. Read More