While Naomi Campbell is widely reputed to be among those supermodels and industry figures for whom the term “fashionably late” is, well, an expectation, on this occasion she arrived early.
On Tuesday night in New York City, Campbell debuted a collection designed with the fast-fashion brand PrettyLittleThing — days before the official beginning of New York Fashion Week’s Spring-Summer 2024 show calendar. Though yes, technically the show still started an hour or so late.
Before taking the requisite bow as the designer of the night, Campbell herself walked the runway in the collection’s final look: a daringly sheer black halter neck maxi dress embellished with crystalline detailing. While it’s a look that PrettyLittleThing’s website (on which pieces from the collection were released online immediately after the show) claims “will have hearts racing wherever you step foot,” on Campbell the gown felt borderline understated.
Sheer pieces also featured in many other looks, whether layered over criss-cross halter neck tops or left bare — and body-baring; as many a trend report or shopping feature from recent months will attest, both designers and consumers are embracing see-through fabrics with, well, sheer delight.
Described in a statement by Chris Parnell, head of design at PrettyLittleThing, as “the most significant collaboration we’ve ever undertaken,” the runway show featured 40-some looks, all ripe for party girls in party season. (Granted, not all of the form-fitting outfits would afford said party girls much freedom to, say, take over a dancefloor — or make the most of Tuesday night’s post-show performance, a short set from the Nigerian-American musician Davido.)
The collection struck broad notes and showcased a spectrum of on-trend separates across this high-glam theme in order to attract, understandably, the broadest possible audience. Such is the fast fashion way. There were tailored jumpsuits and blazers, floaty bias-draped gowns and body-con cocktail dresses. Although a majority of the looks were black and white, there were pops of hot pink and yellow, purple and mauve — and metallics rendered in chainmail, sequins, dripping crystals and beading. A number of curve and plus-size models were featured, with the pieces currently available in US sizes ranging from 0 to 26.
Though perhaps not always in keeping with Campbell’s own publicly-curated aesthetic, the collection’s clearest through-line was its apparent deference to her approval. “I’m not the kind of person who is going to say, ‘I love that design,’ if I don’t like it,” Campbell told Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) of her role in the design process. “No. If I don’t like it, I will say, ‘I don’t like it’ and, ‘Let’s try again.’” (One potential collection was “completely overhauled” along the way, WWD added.)
Two of the collection’s ensembles were created by emerging designers Campbell brought into the fold: Victor Anate and Edvin Thompson. “Within my collection, it was important to recognize and include some of the amazing talent that’s out there,” Campbell explained in a statement first announcing the collection last month. “I’m very intentional about using my platform to create opportunities for the next generation of creatives.”
In a separate interview with W magazine, Campbell again cited her decision to uplift the two designers’ work as an example of why she felt justified partnering with a fast-fashion brand amid a continued backlash to the rise of trend-driven, low-cost clothing. While acknowledging criticism of the venture — with the caveat that, “I haven’t really seen it. I haven’t had time” — Campbell told W that, “For me, if I can get (emerging designers) on the platform, and get the light shone on them, and give them a helping hand in their career and what they want to do with their own designs, helping them on their journey, that makes me happy.”
Perhaps fittingly given the frenetic array of fashions on show, the famous faces seen on the front row were also an eclectic bunch. Beyond the usual gaggle of influencers, models including Winnie Harlow, Alton Mason, Emily Ratajkowski and Halima Aden were in attendance. So, too were actors, musicians and creatives like Tommy Dorfman, Teyana Taylor, Vashtie Kola and Julia Fox, who was clad in the night’s most risque ensemble, a barely-there chain bikini worn under a black leather trench coat.
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