At New York Fashion Week, emerging stars made up for the lack of big name drama

Sarah Kennedy
·4 mins read
Anna Sui, Tom Ford and Marina Moscone - Jackie Kursel / Courtesy of Anna Sui, Tom Ford, Marina Moscone
Anna Sui, Tom Ford and Marina Moscone - Jackie Kursel / Courtesy of Anna Sui, Tom Ford, Marina Moscone

Emotion was the biggest element missing from New York Fashion Week’s four day digital-fest this week. Also missing were The Row, Proenza Schouler, Ralph Lauren and most of America's big names other than Tom Ford, who released his set of collection images during Marc Jacobs’ traditional final show-slot on Wednesday evening.

Michael Kors announced he will show in October and Oscar de La Renta did not present a new collection, but instead announced the launch of a new store on Amazon Luxury. This year’s CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) womenswear winner, Gabriela Hearst has decided to show [covid-permitting] in Paris. However, emerging hotties including Catherine Holstein of Khaite and Marina Moscone made up for the lack of big name drama with simple, wantable looks.

For Spring Summer 2021 a few not-entirely-new but still exciting trends emerged. Body-con, the 1990s concept of stretchy, snug style is a permanent cornerstone of Maria Cornejo’s Zero line and her latest mix of ruched dresses and elongated silk slips stood out. Reminiscent of Donna Karan’s late 1980s collections, NYFW veteran Cornejo’s easy, torso-wrapped glamour reawakened sportswear in the New York sense.

A fuchsia pink satin leisure suit pepped up the designer’s Brooklyn rooftop video. The powerful shade also scored for newcomer Kristian Loren. The designer’s pink play suit with long, flared cuffs and then a full skirt cinched beneath a tangerine sweater certainly had fire in her mini show, part of Harlem Fashion Row, a digital presentation of emerging black talent.

Khaite worked body con to the hilt in short film Future Tense, where star models including Irina Shayk and Alek Wek behaved menacingly in dark corners. Clingy, lean and gathered cotton gowns in black or white with the brand’s familiar, medieval princess necklines of deep square and heart-shapes featured, alongside off-the-shoulder cuts and long, skinny sleeves. Newcomers Cinq-a-Sept delivered a delightfully simple film with founder Jane Siskin talking through a mix of similarly cut body conscious dresses and sporty, satin separates in shades of mandarin, blue and white.

Tailoring with a Lee Radziwill-inspired flavour at Marina Moscone included boxy mini dresses and pants suits with exaggerated cropped flares. Emerging designer Nellie Partow, whose brand is already favoured by in-the-know New Yorkers, bridged a gap between Proenza Schouler and The Row with sleek knitwear and loose shapes in structured fabrics for a collection available now. An easy trench coat cut up into separates featured at Jonathan Simkhai and Nili Lotan, though the ghosts of Derek Lam, Philip Lim and even Alexander Wang hovered over their urban looks.

Of all the tiers, flounces and frills on offer for next spring, Anna Sui and Ulla Johnson vied for first place. Sui aced it for the most original boho prints and lace chokers, Johnson’s crochet tops and leather bucket bags delivered retro vibes with a Southern Italian, rather than West Coast vibe.

Perhaps most surprisingly, CFDA newcomer award-winner Christopher John Rogers and sky-rocketing Telfar Clemens, accessories award winner, whose ‘T’ embossed handbags were among this summer’s most wanted – were absent from the digital format. Over-all NYFW felt more like a giant, mid-range digital shopping event than anything deeply connected to the purest notion of fashion. On the plus side, the easily-understood clothing on offer certainly cut out any mental hard work for consumers, even if it left critics scrambling for something to say.  For smaller designers such as Maria Cornejo often eclipsed by bigger names, this NYFW meant a chance to shine.

Current chairman of the CFDA Tom Ford’s closing images for next spring brought a huge dose of much-needed, exuberant confidence. Inspired by the sketches of fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez and the exciting glamour of model Pat Cleveland’s high-shine 1970s look, Ford’s collection captured a heady mix of New York and LA high-life. Animal and jungly flower prints clashed in silky, body-skimming separates, sleek black track pants or a skinny fitted dress just cried out for a night on the town.

“I can only hope that by the time these clothes reach the stores in Spring 2021 that it will be a more optimistic time,” said the designer. That hope still feels far away - we have winter to get through first. I might make Ford’s green tie-dye kaftan and white string bikini image my phone saver in the meantime, though.

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