New York Fashion Week is back in session. It all feels very back to school as so many September moments do—but with an extra dose of excitement after so much time off the runways. See what designers have in store for life now—from bold looks to comfort wear. Are we dressing for the office or that new remote life? Perhaps there will be a little something for everyone. Stay tuned.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.
“Instagram may actually be what saves fashion in the end,” says Tom Ford. Nearly two years into the pandemic, even he acknowledges that, these days, the main reason people get dressed is for the curated life they present on social media. And as he sees it, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Taking cues from former Bazaar editor in chief Diana Vreeland’s maxim “I know it’s a lot but is it enough?” Ford presented a Spring 2022 collection that did not disappoint, complete with high octane glamour. He brought back the iconic red velvet suit he designed for Gwyneth Paltrow during his tenure at Gucci in the ’90s (and which made a recent appearance on Alessandro Michele’s Fall 2021 runway), this time in more vibrant hues like magenta and cobalt and a new relaxed cut. Indeed, there was a general ease about the collection which included lots of colorful casual-glam pieces like chartreuse and aqua silk cargo pants, a shocking pink neoprene track jacket, and lilac sequin basketball shorts that would back a visual punch on the grid. —Alison S. Cohn
Cate Holstein gets how girls want to look before they even know. Her pieces are always wearable but never expected. A September show in the basement of a Lower East Side apartment building, darkly lit and overgrown with snaking greenery isn’t exactly standard fare—but then again who wants anything standard? Holstein is giving the world the antithesis of that Insta life (post or it didn’t happen.) Her Indochine bash discouraged social media, and her runway show made documenting for the ‘gram quite difficult (even with those hi-tech phone cameras, the lighting was very dark). It’s a refreshing perspective—and just plain cool. As for the clothes themselves? Also cool. Think: leather harnesses, crisp, full pleated shirt dresses, giant oversized bags with knit fitted dresses, heavy sequin mini shirt dresses, bomber jackets over gowns, down jackets inspired by comforters, and a knockout silver trench. All items that TBH would kill it on social media…if the girl wearing wasn’t too cool to care. -Kerry Pieri
The cadence of the fashion world allows designers to offer up a formal thesis two times a year. A new collection is a chance to dive into their visual language, codifying who they are and what they stand for. Sandy Liang’s vocabulary gets stronger with every go, cementing the label as one that’s feminine, but not saccharine; romantic, yet practical. For every pleated mini skirt there was a low-slung pair of trousers. Sporty zip-up polos and fuzzy outwear, a brand staple, were countered by a heavy dose of broderie anglaise (more Petit Trianon hamlet than stereotypical Marie Antoinette, the latter frequent Liang inspiration). Maybe the mix shouldn’t work on paper, but with the right designer blending and stitching, it feels just right. —Leah Melby Clinton
Cool girls have been mining the ’90s and early aughts for a few seasons, and Victor Glemaud is here for them, with the decade’s slinky, skinny-strapped pieces reimagined for now (you can already see them popping up in your feed via the most fizzy accounts you follow). While the originals were made in who-even-knows synthetics, this iteration brings with it a comfortable bend: No matter how sexy or barely there—cutouts abound, shoulders glisten seductively, and the high-rising straps of a g-string were shown off in one bubblegum look—they feel cozy due to the use of soft knits. It takes the comfort we’ve grown to expect into the afterhours scene, with pieces meant for the banquette but comfortable enough for the couch.—Leah Melby Clinton
Jospeh Altuzarra is back on the New York scene. After seasons spent showing in the gilded halls of Paris, the NYC based designer showed his collection in an industrial, light filled loft far from the venetian plaster and marble of France’s venues. “I am thrilled to be bringing our show back to New York this season. New York is my home, and this is my opportunity to celebrate the resilience and energy of the city,” the designer says, “I have never felt prouder to be a New Yorker.” When the city needs you, you show up for her. And Altuzarra knows how to show up for a lady. This season feels like a return to his roots in a way. The designer has always had a sense of utility—what do women wear to the office? How can they elevate the every day experience of getting dressed? He brought that sentiment back with cool suiting, knit dresses and hits of crochet in unexpected places—like against the bodice of a cream suit on Gigi Hadid. And it’s not just about the 9-5, he knows his girls also want to have fun. For those events there are whimsical dresses with a touch of boheme, free spirit attached. Sandals feature shells, bags are layered, fabric is tie dyed and airy tops are cropped, paired with coordinating skirts. No one wants to be contained in too much structure anymore, anyway. –Kerry Pieri
Edvin Thompson may be based in Brooklyn, but there’s no denying his heart lives part time in his native Jamaica. The Theophilio Instagram account invited followers aboard Air Jamaica two weeks prior to his show, and there was never any doubt the origin city was NYC. His work melds both cultures sartorially, injecting a bit of Caribbean joy and flash into the downtown New Yorker’s palette. Jumpsuits, sharply cut separates, and sexy little dresses feature the cleanest of lines—but aren’t done in NYC noir. Rather, tropical hues like aqua and melon and Jamaican flag-inspired stripes in green, red, yellow, and black pop up throughout (Thompson has deftly made the palette a signature of his). When a designer truly loves his craft, it’s impossible for the work to not show traces of their DNA; in Theophilio’s account, the passion is visually apparent. —Leah Melby Clinton
The new normal and the paranormal finally merged, and of course it happened at Rodarte. The California label is famous for its haze gaze—how they turn frayed chiffon into wearable morning mist, all with a Laurel Canyon rock record blaring in the background—and this collection goes hard on it. There’s yellow fringe that mimics beaded curtains at sunrise and tablecloth lace transformed into priestess garb. Even the florals are trippy, with hypnotic poppy prints and mushroom blooms billowing on sail-shaped gowns. But fashion is its own kind of hallucination, and sometimes it makes you do strange things… like walk barefoot across a New York City sidewalk, as model Ondria Hardin did in a dune-colored dress with flutter-breeze sleeves. The final proof we’d landed in another dimension? A series of gowns with clamshell busts—and Little Mermaid star Halle Bailey in the front row. Meta? Yep. Magic? Sure. Let’s keep this going. —Faran Krentcil
Rave against the machine! That’s the mandate from Brandon Maxwell, whose latest collection began with trippy mushroom swirls and spiraled into holograph silk, magic eye satin, and croc-embossed leather in Scooby Doo hues. But Maxwell’s a master at luxury style, which means along with the groovy motifs, there were generous shapes and ooh-feel-this fabrics that made most pieces deceptively easy to wear. And we never thought we’d want a lava lamp dress, but you know what? Maxwell’s version—a slinky t-shirt gown with nothing to lose—might be our surprise buy of the season. That is, if BMWs (Brandon Maxwell Women) like Dakota Johnson and Issa Rae don’t score it first… —Faran Krentcil
Everything old is new again at Coach, where Stuart Vevers reaffirmed his commitment to sustainability with a tribute to Bonnie Cashin for Generation Betty. “Spring presents my vision of a new vocabulary of American fashion inspired by our 80-year heritage through the lens of the next generation,” he wrote in his show notes. “A celebration, too, of the colorful, upbeat optimism of Coach’s first designer Bonnie Cashin, it’s a collection I designed in response to the times we are living through—and a collective wish for a better, brighter future.” Vevers drew inspiration from her American sportswear archive for great outerwear in peppy check and that were casually thrown over bralettes and paired with upcycled denim skate shorts. Many looks incorporated Cashin’s iconic 1968 “Cashin Carry” tote updated in pretty pastels like ice purple and light coral, as well a beautifully patinaed hue crafted from upcycled baseball gloves. (Legend has it that a well-worn baseball glove was the inspiration for Coach’s famous glovetanned leather.) They’re available now should the skate crew members who closed the show want to catch one. —Alison S. Cohn
Messing with perfection is tricky, but expanding one’s definition of it is mandatory, especially in fashion today. Michael Kors mastered the challenge with a new season of “why don’t I own that already?” staples, including café au lait cashmere and breezy bell skirts paired with black leather cinchers. With their summer tans and easy smiles, American sweethearts Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid carried a fresh gust of optimism down the runway; so did a series of loose, cool-toned suits the color of after-brunch mints. But perhaps there was no sight more compelling than rising supermodels Precious Lee, Jill Kortleve, and Paloma Elsesser. Their outfits were proof that a truly fashion-fluent designer doesn’t use curvy models as stunts or giant t-shirt placards, but instead fits them in the same expensive, exhilarating silhouettes as their peers. More, please, Mr. Kors. Like, way more.—Faran Krentcil
There’s a lot of heat on Markarian right now, thanks to Dr. Jill Biden’s Inauguration dress, which was created by designer Alexandra O’Neill. And while a lot of this collection was pretty stately—including some floral jacquard bodices straight out of an Emanuel Leutze painting—there were also looks from the West Village cocktail cliques O’Neill sees every night from her New York studio. That includes white spike heels, half-buttoned pointelle cardigans over peek-a-boo cleavage, and soft pink hot pants that were basically PJ bottoms for the discerning downtown heiress. (“Gossip Girl here, your one and only source for an emergency outfit for American Bar.”) There’s lots to love here, and O’Neill knows it. Why else embroider tiny hearts across her knitwear?—Faran Krentcil
Dur Doux translates as “hard soft,” a name designer Najila Burt came up with during her Parsons days (her mother, Cynthia, is co-designer). In looking for the push-and-pull, one might say the silhouettes themselves are the hard parts: voluminous shapes, wide skirts worn with knotted tops, and big flared sleeves are all unlikely to blend into the background. The softness comes from the fabric, with yards of tulle as a signature. Fluid knit separates are less dramatic, yet just as beautifully pliant. It’s all about opposites that not only attract, but complement.—Leah Melby Clinton
If there was ever any doubt that NYC would get back on its feet after the last year and a half, LaQuan Smith just put that notion to rest. A love letter to the city he grew up in, his new collection featured a lineup of slinky, party-ready pieces along with posh Puma accessories. Smith also had a legendary New York landmark as backdrop: The Empire State Building. “New York is back, baby,” the founder tells BAZAAR ahead of the show. “This is an iconic time and when we’ve come from a year of just chaos and craziness I think that we need to continue to find ways to celebrate and uplift people.”
As the first-ever designer to present at the historical monument, Smith took full advantage of the opportunity, pulling out all the stops for the occasion. There was a celeb-heavy front row, champagne towers (courtesy of Moet), monogrammed terry robes, feathers, and artfully groomed poodles—all the trappings of an old-school NYC party. On the runway, there was an updated version of that dress Hailey Bieber wore to meet the President of France, on model Elsa Holsk in white. Elsewhere on the catwalk, you could find nearly everything you would want for re-emerging into society as your most fabulous self — easy, fun, and just a little bit risqué, all things Smith does so very well. — Shelby Ying Hyde
Don’t go somewhere over the rainbow—live inside it instead. That’s what Sergio Hudson did on his latest catwalk, serving a prism of looks in Warhol red, Nesquik yellow, Cadillac blue, and the deep, shiny purple of a Fanta Grape can. Hudson’s shape spectrum ranged from the belted waists and “stand up straight!” suiting we’ve seen on his famous designs for Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama, allllllll the way to slinky shimmer cutouts and slouchy off-shoulder knits. And though the Sergio Hudson woman is far too confident to stare at her feet, she should glance down this season, because—surprise!—Aurora James designed some Brother Vellies footwear just for this collection. Blessings all around.
How do you walk down a runway slick with rain? With baby steps… or at least a baby bottle. Gigi Hadid did both at Moschino’s NYFW debut, which projected retro nursery motifs (pastel animals, alphabet blocks, diaper pins) onto bombshell ’60s separates, including miniskirts, bustiers, and evening jackets. The dawn of new power moms? Sure—especially with some of this pastel suiting. The tongue-in-chic line will serve designer Jeremy Scott’s ride-or-dye fans well, especially sass queens like Katy Perry and Kacey Musgraves, who mix camp spectacle with emo luxury for a living. But don’t let the pink puppy prints fool you: Like all things Moschino, the fabrics are extra-lush and the tailoring is super-sharp. Plus, the quilted baby blanket gowns at the end are a neat nod to the “remake and rewear” ethos needed for a more sustainable industry. In other words, these pieces are anything but child’s play. —Faran Krentcil
The very best things from Phillip Lim’s latest are the ones that are just the littlest bit different. (Reinventing the wheel happens constantly in fashion, but it’s often the slightly modified wheel that intrigues more than the fully rethought version.) From color to silhouette, subtle tweaks make you take a quiet second glance. His khaki is mixed with a swirl of eggshell; suiting pools at the ankle and wrist; bright colors hum with a bit of fluorescence. It’s fun without sacrificing any of the form or function. It’s clothing optimized for our current stance on conscious consumerism too, unique enough to warrant being added to your closet but not wrought so differently as to be impossible to wear with what you already own. Familiar but fresh is the best of both worlds.—Leah Melby Clinton
Peter Do’s runway debut feels almost overdue, given how much buzz the designer has accumulated in such a short time (the brand has been around for just over three years, nearly half of which were during a global pandemic). Set on the water in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with Manhattan in the distance, the show felt almost like a love letter to an industry reawakening. In keeping with the letter theme, the designer included a handwritten note at each seat in which he wrote about cooking pho with his father as a metaphor for building his latest collection.
The Vietnamese designer sticks with the basics, but puts his own very cool spin on all of it: creating suiting and dresses in a limited palette, but having fun with tailoring, proportions, pleat, and fit. With shoes and bags already thriving categories for the young brand, it seems like things can only go up from here. A little like that Manhattan skyline in the distance. —Kerry Pieri
Spring is the season for airy attitudes and light, dreamy clothing. No knock on fall and winter—sweater weather is popular for a reason—but there’s no denying that sunshine fuels a sense of escapism that’s pleasurable to all the senses. Adam Lippes has a clear vantage point into our collective psyche, outfitting future getaways, weekend explorations, and beautifully sunlit Monday-to-Friday moments. Swishy wide-leg pants and floaty blouses still have a tailored element; there’s a crisp ease to everything, a sense of relaxation that’s never sloppy.—Leah Melby Clinton
Prabal Gurung calls his spring 2022 collection American Girl, but this isn’t a tribute to Felicity and Samantha dolls. He elaborates in his show notes that he is addressing “a girl or a woman, whoever chooses to identify as one, in their individuality.” Movements for social justice over the last 18 months have left the Nepalese-American designer thinking about how America is often personified as a woman, yet in many ways, women in this country are often not treated as they should be. Starting from a personal belief that “defined full feminine glory is the most unnerving for the patriarchy,” he plays with unabashedly feminine tropes like gingham, fashioned as cutout mini bubble dresses, and side-split skirts in brilliant shades of neon red and flaming pink that amp up the XX factor. Sharp tailored blazers come with exaggerated peplums, or are layered over eco-tulle bustier tops. And this being a Prabal show, there are feather showstoppers, including an architectural highlighter-yellow babydoll number. —Alison S. Cohn
New York is the city that never sleeps on opportunity, and Proenza Schouler knows it. The Manhattan-born brand stormed the city’s newest park—Little Island, a concrete-poured pier with sunset river views—with a collection of let’s-get-back-to-it workwear so good, it almost made the case for a full-time office return. (Almost.) Among the winners: tangerine suiting, swishy trenches with sharp-edged sleeves, and a series of cocoon dresses in sunburst colors that jolted the runway like a restart button.
But don’t just take our word for it: Listen to the college sophomores who waited in line for three hours just to get one of the coveted show seats reserved for the general public. “I would wear everything if I could afford it,” one gushed from the back row, her dorm mates nodding along. “And not just because Gigi Hadid was in the show. Actually, I think it’s a bigger deal that Tommy Dorfman is front row. I love her. And I think she’s, like, very Proenza.” This year, the brand turns 19, just like this new group of fashion fans pouncing on their style. As for the 21+ adults in the room—or in the amphitheater as it were—there’s plenty in this collection to keep us looking like we’ve got it all together, even if it’s just a designer belt that’s keeping us intact. —Faran Krentcil
Fashion observers are clocking a return to normalcy, albeit a “normal” that differs based on who’s asking. For Maryam Nassir Zadeh it’s about putting the uniform of the lo-fi Lower East Side into the blender and spitting out a fresh take on familiar favorites. It’s pinstripes and skinny tanks; knee-length shorts and faded plaid. It’s an embodiment of our drive to dress authentically, the very opposite of trend-chasing, and intended to look just as likely to have been dug up by an expert thrift-hunter as stitched the week prior. These are now-and-then clothes, where the fuzzy timeline feeling is exactly the point. —Leah Melby Clinton
Ulla Johnson and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden are a match made in earth goddess heaven. And there are the elevated floral bohemian dresses that Ulla Johnson acolytes flock to on offer for Fall 2022. But Johnson expanded the definition of boheme babes with some sporty vests this season, workman inspired pants and jackets, interesting knit sets, and a kicky skirt suit. The through line is a true nod to femininity in all of its definitions. Some of those included dresses with a simpler, more streamlined silhouette and color palette, some have floral macrame. Wake up and be who you want to be that day is the overarching idea. And somehow Johnson manages to create each of these diverse looks through her own particular lens.
“The world is changing,” says designer Hillary Tamour, “and so are we.” Well, yes and no—at least when it comes to her brand, Collina Strada. Taymour’s beloved trademarks haven’t budged, including a commitment to deadstock fabrics, print-on-print outfit piles, and we-are-family casting (including moms and daughters, dads and babies, and a few punk matriarchs in their 70s and 80s). But along with a new Levi’s collaboration and a lot more famous faces than usual in the Brooklyn front row—Camila Mendez and Ella Emhoff among them—Collina Strada has taken their eco-ethos into new design territory with featherweight silken bodices, buttressed (and honkers) t-shirt gowns, and even swimwear that’s been cleverly quilted together from discarded rayon. And if this no-waste, all-wonder utopia is how Taymour sees the world changing, that’s beautiful news for the rest of us. (But yeah, we’ll have to get used to wearing more neon…).—Faran Krentcil
Christian Siriano is helping bring Gotham back—by literally holding his show at the gilded Gotham Hall, the former Greenwich Savings Bank, after transporting guests to his Connecticut home last season. Whether he’s in town or country Siriano is having fun. The runway was accompanied by a live performance by Marina and model-of-the-moment Precious Lee opened the show in a knockout yellow look featuring cut-outs. That reveal of skin was an overarching theme of the collection, with both sheer elements and peek-a-boo cuts on day dresses and gowns. But there was also tailored suiting for the lady who prefers things a bit more covered up. Likewise, the collection showcased a mix of bold shades of neon green and orange offset with minimal black and ivory. “In a time when so many of us need an escape from the world, fashion is a great place to explore,” Siriano says, “For this collection I went back to a simpler time and looked to my past. I was inspired by the Italian women in my life. The old photographs of my grandmother in the 60’s and 70’s on holiday in Positano wearing her apricot orange dress inspired an Italian coastal collection filled with color and joy.” It’s time to show off again, however that looks for you.
Consistency is key at The Row, where a language of elevated basics and deceptively simple silhouettes has long been spoken. The house has earned legions of fans for its thoughtfulness, with tweaks and tucks that are the most obvious when you’re positioned inside the garment, not viewing from the outside. That’s still the case for spring, though there are some changes, too. Color for one, with splashes of red and blue to mix up the established preference for muted neutrals. Silhouettes are another, with roomy trousers, skirts, and coats tempered by belted waists. None of it is a drastic departure—nothing could be less The Row than a quick about-face—but simply reveals the latest evolution for a brand that’s always grown with measured consideration. —Leah Melby Clinton