At New York Fashion Week, new collections were a mix of wearable and whimsical

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Fashion Week landed in New York City once again with six days of Fall-Winter 2023 shows from brands including Rodarte, Thom Browne, Coach, Prabal Gurung and Eckhaus Latta.

Last season marked the return of nearly all in-person shows, and A-List celebrities descended on the city for a packed schedule of slick high-production shows all around Manhattan and Brooklyn. This week, the trend toward iconic backdrops and grand architecture continued, with shows taking place at the historic main branch of the New York Public Library, classic hotspot the Rainbow Room, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

While many collections emphasized everyday wearability, with designers including Gabriela Hearst, LaQuan Smith and Sandy Liang showing clothes that could go from runway to closet, others such as Rodarte and Thom Browne instead put forward more whimsical ideas.

On Friday, the mood was high fantasy as Rodarte kicked off the official schedule inside the neoclassical Williamsburgh Savings Bank, transforming the landmarked Brooklyn institution into a glittering banquet populated by gothic fairies. Rodarte’s romantic collections have a loyal celebrity following, and guests included actors Brie Larson, Jemima Kirke, and Natasha Lyonne.

Fairy glam at Rodarte. - Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

Browne, meanwhile, turned one blacked-out room of art center The Shed into a stage for a half-hour conceptual retelling of the beloved novella “The Little Prince,” complete with a prop plane, hanging planets and several tons of sand to create a celestial desert scene.

“I’m getting older and I have to challenge myself to create something that’s more and more interesting each season,” Browne told CNN after the show. “I always start with a simple story and then work into it as much as I want to or as little as I want to.”

Setting the stage

Many designers played with themes of transformation this season, from Collina Strada’s playful presentation of models-turned-animals to Dion Lee’s edgy club-kid looks that played on the idea of clothes as shedding snake skin (the latter attended by the internet’s favorite “It” girls Julia Fox and Ice Spice). Area’s high-octane runway turned bananas, watermelons and grapes into vibrant sculptural ensembles, with bright purples and pinks shifting to black to signal decay. Models walked to the uneasy sound of buzzing flies and thumping techno.

At the New York Public Library, designer Prabal Gurung sought to create a starlit escape in the heart of the building, inspired by meditation and his Nepalese heritage. Models in asymmetrical draping and a variety of outwear walked on a mirrored floor beneath projections of a night sky, while guests including Kimora Lee Simmons and Nicky Hilton looked on.

“I wanted people to forget for 10 minutes that they are in New York — to feel like they are on a spiritual journey with me to Nepal,” he told CNN ahead of the show.

Celebrity power

Celebrity runway moments began with Lindsay Lohan’s siblings Ali and Cody, who walked Christian Siriano’s early Thursday show (with Lohan present in the front row), as well as a surprise appearance from “White Lotus” actor Jon Gries on the Eckhaus Latta runway on Saturday night. Emily Ratajkowski closed Simkhai’s presentation of power-dressing ensembles as well as Tory Burch’s slouchy take on prep, and original supermodel Beverly Johnson returned to runway to close out Dennis Basso’s show in a gold-caped gown. The Blonds closed out the week on Wednesday night with a catwalk cameo from “Pose” star Dominique Jackson.

Julia Fox was a regular on the front row this season, here she sports an oversized jersey set for the Willy Chavarria show. - Udo Salters/Getty Images

David Harbour was spotted at the Thom Browne show. - Rob Kim/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

From left to right: Prabal Gurung, Bella Thorne, Orville Peck,Teyana Taylor, Lil Nas X, and Sam Smith attend the Christian Cowan show. - Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Beatrice Grannò Simona Tabasco— perhaps better known as Mia and Lucia from “White Lotus” — attended Michael Kors where Kate Hudson was also spotted.

Browne’s highly anticipated first NYFW show as the new CFDA chairman brought out the most stars during an otherwise fairly low-key season. Famous front row guests included Lil Nas X, Whoopi Goldberg, Erykah Badu, Penn Badgely, Queen Latifah, David Harbour, and Teyana Taylor.

Lil Nas X, Fox and Taylor made the rounds to a handful of shows, while other celebrities spotted out and about included the always-masked South African singer Orville Peck and Japanese Breakfast frontwoman Michelle Zauner, the latter who showed up to Rodarte and cool-girl staple Sandy Liang.

“I’m so flattered that people get it,” Liang said of cultivating a loyal following, which includes Bella Hadid and Phoebe Bridgers. Liang’s latest collection imagined the dress as a “modern, everyday uniform,” mixing feminine silhouettes — with signatures bows, rosettes and ballet pointe flats — with utilitarian additions.

Scroll down for all the moments that caught our eye.

Emily Ratajowski closed Simkhai's Friday evening show in the Financial District in a boxy "menswear" take on womens suiting. - Theo Wargo/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Rodarte set the scene with silver banquet tables overflowing with glitter-covered fruits and candelabras. Models wore garments inspired by gothic fairies, ranging from moody all-black dresses to winged metallic gowns. - Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

Rodarte founders Sarah and Laura Mulleavy asked their artist mother to create the fairy drawings that appear as prints throughout the collection. - Taylor Hill/WireImage/Getty Images

Rodarte's founders are known for their romantic aesthetics, but this collection was "the first show where we had a rule," Laura Mulleavy explained after the fall-winter show. All the looks had to relate back to their high-fantasy inspiration. - Taylor Hill/WireImage/Getty Images

For Collina Strada's show "Please Don't Eat My Friends," models crawled, bleated, galloped and licked their paws as they came around the runway. - Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Garments at Collina Strada featured animal-like details including horns and organza bunny tails. The materials emphasized sustainability, incorporating deadstock wool, cotton, jacquard, and lace, as well as recycled yarn and biodegradable satin. - Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Cody Lohan was cast in Christian Siriano's classic glamour-inspired show, which the designer defined as "Audrey Hepburn's rose garden at midnight." - Hippolyte Petit/Getty Images

Sandy Liang has gained a cult following for her whimsical interpretations of girlhood. Last year, her pointe shoe-style flats became a must-have for the balletcore microtrend. - Gregoire Avenel

Sandy Liang's latest collection mixed unexpected pieces, like this puffer vest with a feminine lace slip dress. Detachable capes, sashes, and knit hoods also featured on the runway. - Gregoire Avenel

Fruits can represent both "abundance, fertility, vitality, and youth" as well as "mortality and the cycle of life," Area designers Piotrek Panszczyk and Beckett Fogg explained on Instagram. Their high-octane show turned bananas, watermelons and grapes into embrodiery, embellishments and metalworked garments. - Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

The Area collection featured feathered masks, ultra-low backless lace bodysuits, and accessories with wires that mimicked the look of swarming flies. - Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Sergio Hudson's highlighter-colored hues and slick retro suiting took notes from Fran Drescher in "The Nanny," Hilary Banks in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and Barbie. - Noam Galai/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Dion Lee's show took inspiration from layering, snakes shedding their skin and rebirth, resulting in reptilian textures and creative outerwear. - Lexie Moreland/WWD/Getty Images

The club-kid-meets-biker aesthetic at Dion Lee included translucent inflatable jackets. - Lexie Moreland/WWD/Getty Images

Eckhaus Latta's show skewed grunge with tons of textures, including mohair, denim, knits and shearling pelts. Womens garments played peekaboo with sheer fabrics and slits, while mens garments included backless tops and mid-length skirts. - Rodin Banica/WWD/Getty Images

"White Lotus" actor Jon Gries made a surprise appearance at Echkaus Latta, continuing the cast's foray into fashion since the second season ended in December. - Nina Westervelt/WWD/Getty Images

Prabal Gurung's latest collection, called "Anichiya," was based on the philosophy of imperanence. It featured asymmetrical silhouettes and a range of outerwear. - Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Prabal Gurung's collection included textiles that echoed the patterns of butterfly wings, following his experiences on an extended meditation retreat. - Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Eggs, roses, tiger print and snakeskin were among some of the motifs at Puppets and Puppets. - Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images

At Puppets and Puppets, models wove around artfully messy tablescape arrangements — featuring piles of food and dishes, among other props — on the runway. - Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images

Jason Wu returned to the NYFW schedule with a verdant and refined showing at the Guggenheim Museum. - JP Yim/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Kim Shui's catwalk took place inside the Bowery Savings Bank. - Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images

Kim Shui's collection featured 2000s-inspired fashion, embellished 'K' letters and furry knee-high boots. - Rob Kim/Getty Images

Wes Gordon returned to The Plaza this season for his latest collection for Carolina Herrera. - Taylor Hill/WireImage/Getty Images

Empress Elisabeth of Austria served as Wes Gordon's primary inspiration, leading to a romantic but modern take on the opulence of court life. - Steve Eichner/WWD/Getty Images

Coach's latest outing celebrated a new generation of classic American styles, including shearling coats, denim skirts, leather jackets and patent mini backpacks. - Giovanni Giannoni/WWD/Getty Images

Coach's presentation was both a throwback to Y2K fashion and a look ahead, through circular design that made use of upcycled garments — some made from discarded scraps. - Giovanni Giannoni/WWD/WWD/Getty Images

The one and only Beverly Johnson closed out Dennis Basso's show with a grand, gilded flourish. - Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

LaQuan Smith took notes (and quotes) from "Dynasty" for his nostalgic, glamorous show that updated the skirtsuit and pantsuit. Model Frida Aasen opened by dropping her coat from the Rainbow Room's balcony while a recording of Joan Collins said: "I now own this house." - Andrea Renault/AFP/Getty Images

LaQuan Smith credits dressing Lenny Kravitz for the CFDA Awards as inspiration for this season's menswear. - Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images

LaQuan Smith told CNN that "each season is a rebirth," but that the DNA of what his brand stands for is "sexy, sophisticated, (and) bold." - Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images

Gabriela Hearst's collection took place on a mirrored runway beneath a set piece inspired by the architect Ricardo Bofill, who died last year. - Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

For her latest show, Gabriela Hearst was deeply inspired by the life and work of architect Eileen Gray, a pioneer in modernist design who was underrecognized during her lifetime. - Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

This season, Batsheva founder Batsheva Hay opted for a presentation in a Tribeca gallery rather than a runway show. - Alexei Hay/Batsheva

For Batsheva's newest collection, Batsheva Hay wanted "to focus on the act of getting dressed" by inviting guests to wander as models changed into different looks. - Alexei Hay/Batsheva

Tory Burch focused on updated classics in her show closed by Irina Shayk and Emily Ratajkowski. - Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Thom Browne found his show concept in the pages of "The Little Prince," Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's famed novella about a young traveler who sojourns to different planets. - Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

Accessories at Thom Browne's half-hour stage show included delicate hand-crocheted gold wire headpieces, clock handbags and shoes, and platform astronaut boots. - Rob Kim/Getty Images

"I was so surprised that we got it all done," Thom Browne said after his show. "The embroideries, all of the detailing — there was so much to it." - Rob Kim/Getty Images

Footwear at Thom Browne's show. The models acted out "The Little Prince" on a set that featured a prop plane and several tons of sand. - Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

All designs were conceptualized as genderless in Thom Browne's show. "The dresses were the same for the men and the women — my eye is not seeing men and women anymore, just one beautiful world of beautiful clothes," he said after the presentation. - Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

The Blonds rounded off the week with a jubilant show dripping in jewels. - Thomas Concordia/WireImage/Getty Images

The Blonds collection was inspired by old Hollywood glamour. - Thomas Concordia/WireImage/Getty Images

At The Blonds, the hair was tall and the hem-lines were short. - Thomas Concordia/WireImage/Getty images

Top image: Backstage at Thom Browne

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