NYFW Recap: The Contemporary Market, Take 2

·10 min read

WWD breaks down contemporary designers during the second half of NYFW:

PatBo RTW Spring 2023
PatBo, spring 2023

PatBo

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Creative director Patricia Bonaldi’s work captures today’s young starlet and influencer with her embellished and coquettish take on dress, and spring was no different. Colorful and bold — she is Brazilian, after all — her resortwear came with intricate embroidery, fringe and beading, bright with a lot of skin, giving a wink to her South American heritage. Each design is handmade in the brand’s atelier by a team of more than 400 local female artisans. She used pearl accents on some of her opening pieces, like a white cutout fringe dress with pearl detailing. Bodysuits, maxidresses, beach cover-ups, bralette tops — there was something there for both a summer outside event or a week at the very chic beach.

Private Policy RTW Spring 2023
Private Policy, spring 2023

Private Policy

“Finding balance in the midst of global turbulence is exhausting,” read the opening show notes for Private Policy’s latest collection. With this in mind, design duo Siying Qu and Haoran Li, much like the rest of the global force, want and crave peace, and emphasized this through the capture of the dove — a recurrent graphic/subject in the Private Policy realm.

The lineup titled “Noah’s Ark” depicted the modern-day animal (or humans) melded with the eccentric and ever-changing nightclub and rave culture — leading to an array of bright sequined dresses, cutout tops and dresses layered over bikinis.

The brand’s utilitarian signature for men remained at large (literally) with oversize cargo pockets on pants, oversized vests with harnessing details and thin strap tanks.

The finale look spotlighted a wedding dress composed of recycled polyester satin (veil and all), a first for the brand — a fun moment within the chaotic and beats-filled Private Policy universe.

A look from Marrisa Wilson Spring 2023.
Marrisa Wilson, spring 2023

Marrisa Wilson

The messaging in Marrisa Wilson’s debut runway collection last fall got lost in translation, so the Guyanese-American designer attempted to pinpoint a more signature look for spring, undergoing a bit of a rebrand in the process. Along with a bolder type-face logo came a bolder print story to match — palm leaves and abstract brushstrokes recalling family boat rides down the Demara River covered her lineup of smocked drop-waist dresses. More intriguing, though, were the quarter-zips, board shorts and anorak jackets, all outfitted with military pockets and elasticated drawstrings.

During a preview backstage, Wilson mentioned she wanted to “take up more space” this time around, which meant delving into categories like knitwear with fisherman sweaters inspired by her father (who is one) and a foray into evening that felt forced given the playful vibe of the show. Notably, the designer auctioned off five NFTs of her hand-painted sketches as part of a Web3 tie-in with digital art market SuperRare.

Derek Lam 10 Crosby, spring 2023
Derek Lam 10 Crosby, spring 2023

Derek Lam 10 Crosby

Moroccan-born photographer Bruno Barbey was the jumping-off point at Derek Lam 10 Crosby this season. The photos are mimimalist and full of color, right in line with the vibe of 10C. “You want more from your clothes,” said Shawn Reddy, alluding to the change in customers’ post-pandemic shopping habits. “In a refined way.”

No worry, refined and straightforward with special design touches is the DNA of the brand. Spring is no different with a fluid satin set in a mosaic print or a playful pomegranate print dress. Many pieces had a short balloon sleeve, an impactful update to classic easy spring dresses that made them feel fresh.

Denim is growing, and for a brand that is known for its pant offering, it’s a no-brainer that it is resonating with their customer. Whites and ivory, a trend of the season, came on an eyelet dress and suiting. Knits, another core category for the brand, had buttons up the sleeve, opened up to show a bit of skin, giving the piece a variety of ways to be styled.

Silvia Tcherassi RTW Spring 2023
Silvia Tcherassi, spring 2023

Silvia Tcherassi

Colombian designer, Silvia Tcherassi continues to deliver lineups infused with bold colors, alluring youthful silhouettes, quality fabrics and strong tailoring. Staying true to the signature high-end styling, her collection for spring is not for the average style enthusiast, but more for the artful, driven woman who seeks pieces that boast elements of resortwear within the brand’s established wheelhouse of silhouettes.

This season (and like most) Tcherassi was inspired by the works of abstract painter Mark Rothko, carefully fusing subtle prints with powerful punches of bold color, such as vivid yellow, bright pinks and oranges, adding an additional dose of femininity and Latin flair.

“Similar to Rothko, I am always attempting to create a sort of color field for the expression of emotions,” said Tcherassi at her presentation at the Nara Roesler Gallery in Manhattan.

The lineup featured classic Tcherassi dress silhouettes, including her ever-present penchant for cutout details, dresses with backless opening details, exposed shoulders and dresses with exaggerated sleeve volume — adding a deeper layer of femininity.

New iterations for the brand this season included silk blazers intervened to give a canvas-like appearance and criss-crossed halter tops (mainly in bold colors and in graphic prints) — all adding to Tcherassi’s elegant aesthetic.

Trina Turk RTW Spring 2023
Trina Turk, spring 2023

Trina Turk

“We were not inspired by the ’90s,” joked Trina Turk of one of the season’s prevailing trends. “We’re off on our own in the ’60s. That’s what our whole brand is about and we’re staying true.”

She looked to the Mod era for spring, using a rainbow cloud print on joyful, resort-ready silk and satin georgette minidresses, caftans and sun hats, men’s shorts, polos and suiting, and interpreted it in an intarsia sweater. A pink vegan patent leather mini and matching boxy jacket nodded to Courrèges and Barbiecore, and an acid-green pantsuit with extreme flares was also on trend in this green-is-the-new-black moment.

Turk has started to incorporate more sustainable fabrics into her collection, including wood pulp viscose for suiting, and Ecovero organdy on volume pieces like the fuchsia billowy strapless dress with a taffeta look.

DVF, spring 2023
DVF, spring 2023

DVF

In the middle of the pandemic DVF took some time to reset its business model, aiming to offer a more balanced price point and appeal to a younger generation of customers. Key to the pivot was integrating Shopify into its direct-to-consumer e-commerce business. The change has made them more nimble, helping them to focus the assortment.

The spring collection shows that strategy has paid off. The brand produced a mix of vintage prints, reimagined into a variety of separates and dresses, along with new prints added. The wrap dress of course is here but so are lots of other dress shapes, flowy tops, knits and skirts. The Shopify tie-up helps them gather real data, quickly getting their customers what is selling in real time, with very little waste. The brand may look back on house codes to create, but it’s looking forward in how it markets and retails.

Aknvas, spring 2023
Aknvas, spring 2023

Aknvas

Aknvas is growing and after experimenting with show format in the past, designer Christian Juul Nielsen took his latest work to the runway. “We are in a time now where we talk a lot about hope and happiness,” he said backstage. “And I’m a happy person.” His work reflects that attitude, with a collection where texture and fabrication are always evolving. Spring sees new technical taffeta on pieces, resulting in shapes. The meeting of tech and craft is most pronounced in his knitwear, opening the show with a crochet knit in saturated green with ropes nearly grazing the floor.

Lela Rose RTW Spring 2023
Lela Rose, spring 2023

Lela Rose

Lela Rose went straight to the produce aisle for spring. The designer set up a fruit market in a plaza at Hudson Yards and handed out knit bags, encouraging showgoers to take a bit of her inspiration home with them. Rose aimed to bring cheer to her customer this season with a Valentine’s Day red and pink gingham and a fruit motif that saw her embroidering, knitting and appliquéing bananas, oranges and cherries to just about anything. The collection’s breezy dresses and summery separates are sure to spark emotion — and sales — especially as wedding season kicks into high gear.

Kim Shui, spring 2023
Kim Shui, spring 2023

Kim Shui

Kim Shui made a name for herself churning out the kind of throw-on party pieces that Insta-vixens pine for, so why — one might ask — would she leave them high and dry at the club and go searching for the ballroom?

Spring saw Shui lean far out into formalwear. Sourcing inspiration in the traditional garb of the Hmong people in South China, her collection yielded satin and lace bubble-skirted gowns wrapped in tulle that did not quite land the intricately layered look she was after.

Elsewhere, velvet bike shorts, funny boleros with sleeves of varied lengths and sarong skirts edged in fringe could have used a sharper viewpoint. The coolest looking piece, though, was an asymmetric molded leather corset emblazoned with a dragon motif — a collaboration between Shui and German fashion designer Marina Hoermanseder.

Cynthia Rowley RTW Spring 2023
Cynthia Rowley, spring 2023

Cynthia Rowley

“As we’ve grown as a brand, we see that we have so much more of a multifaceted audience,” Cynthia Rowley said following her show, later adding: “Since we started doing sustainable deliveries — doing drops two or three times a week — and selling out, it’s inspired me to experiment more because we can do it faster, test things and put it out there. If it works, we do it more. It enabled us this season to have a bigger spectrum of styles because we’ve been testing them along the way.”

The designer expanded her well-known girly and sporty styles with the addition of utility and transparency — size inclusivity was also noted of importance. Rowley’s line goes up to size 16 in select ready-to-wear styles and 2x in wetsuits, with expanded sizes to come in the near future.

Spring’s strongest looks featured voluminous silk taffeta cargo ballgown skirts and relaxed pants, and rugby striped cropped turtlenecks and casual sporty dresses.

“I still, after all these years, am in awe of this city and lucky to have the honor of being able to show in Wagner Park. Lady Liberty as a backdrop with a beautiful sunset just doesn’t get any better. The city and state both helped to make that happen,” the designer said of her outdoor show location.

Midnight Studios
Midnight Studios

Midnight Studios

Shane Gonzales has been a fan of the band Him since he was 7 years old, obsessing over the music and drawing the group’s logo on his homework. So it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for the Midnight Studios creator to work with the band on his spring collection, “And Love Said No,” which is named after a song from the Finnish band.

“They’re a gothic metal band but they bent the rules,” Gonzales said backstage. “It’s love metal, which is two clashing genres.”

That same juxtaposition showed up in Gonzales’ collection, which offered a heavy leather coat with a belt that doubled as pockets and raw denim jeans and jackets in acid-washed hues that intentionally contrasted with sheer, flowing shirts.

He emblazoned a version of the Him heartagram logo — a heart and triangle in a circle — on sweaters and coats and as well as boombox-style “trunks,” and even translated the lead singer’s tattoos onto some of the more “romantic” shirts. There was also a pattern used on wraparound skirts that was “an ode to an Hermes scarf” but with bondage references rather than equestrian, he said.

CPlus Series, spring 2023
CPlus Series, spring 2023

CPlus Series

Taiwanese designer C.T. Liu’s spring collection for CPlus Series (formerly known as C+plus Series) continued to expand on the brand’s signature approach to pragmatic dressing. The range was said to explore retro and sci-fi references, which was very subtly rendered into multiple prints (including wallpaper florals, roses and polka dots) on cool little silk and chiffon tops and suiting separates and silver-toned fashions (a pleated tank gown).

The biggest news of the season came from a debut collaboration with Levi’s, which included denim skirts, pants and dresses that leaned into de- and reconstruction with dark- and light-wash denim.

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