NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 06: Models poses at the Mara Hoffman presentation during New York Fashion Week on September 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)
The dust has settled on New York Fashion Week, and two attributes come to mind. First was the weather in the city, which jumped from blisteringly hot to rainy to chilly to hot again. Deciding on outfits was a pain. Second, and most important, was that the lineup for Spring 2019 was less cluttered and perhaps more advantageous for emerging designers.
This evolution of sorts started a few seasons ago, when some of the biggest draws decamped to Europe; or showed months before the official fashion week schedule, among them Alexander Wang and Rosie Assoulin, who held their shows in June. A few returned from Paris, including Proenza Schouler and Rodarte. Others, like Thome Brown and Altuzzara, didn’t. Then there were those—Naricso Rodriguez, Derek Lam and Diane von Furstenberg—who took an antiquated approach and held private appointments for retailers and what seemed to be the few remaining fashion magazines.
As a result, the playing field opened up a bit. Lesser-known labels, some of which may have fallen by the wayside in previous seasons, had the chance to pique the interest of the highfalutin denizens of the fashion industry. This isn’t saying that they haven’t been worthy of attention in the past. Brands like Pyer Moss, Deveaux, Christian Cota, Claudia Li, Vaquera and Just Naturally Be Yourself (JNBY is actually an established Chinese brand that showed in New York for the first time) have had moments in the spotlight. Indeed, many have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the aforementioned names. But with fewer presentations shown by the behemoths at New York Fashion Week, a number of collections were able to shine brighter.
Here were the five brightest.
Mara Hoffman’s collection was divine. It was alluring. It spoke to the senses in a way that made one linger, think and appreciate fashion as an art form. That’s exactly what the designer presented at a converted studio space on sweltering day. And the fact that the venue lacked proper ventilation only added to the sultriness of her clothes. She showed a range of beautifully constructed linen gowns with floral prints, slip dresses and blazer-and-skirt combos that played with voluminous shoulders and sleeves. The color pallet was the best kind of somber; it was earthy, which probably tied into her intended theme.
“The show itself is inspired by hosting a beautiful funeral,” she explained. “It is this idea of burying the parts that no longer serve us, but doing it with reverence and joy.”
The models—who came in every size, race and age—stood against a backdrop of cream-colored drapes, which was peppered with soil, shrubs and bouquets of lilies and roses. Some danced to the music of a live jazz band playing in the corner. Others stood and sat regally, displaying the clothes in a way they called to mind images of Wide Sargasso Sea. Indeed, there was a definite Caribbean vibe to the overall presentation. But take the clothes out of that scenario and they are everything that a city dweller should have in her closet for spring. They were elevated, polished and true standouts at New York Fashion Week.
NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 06: A model poses at the Mara Hoffman Spring/Summer 2019 presentation during New York Fashion Week on September 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Studio 189 presented more than a mere fashion show. It was a celebration. It was a no-holds-barred spectacle with performances by Jojo Abot, Frenchie Davis, a voguing dance troupe and musicians playing traditional African beats. And Alicia Keys and Naomi Campbell, who were both sitting in the front row, can attest to that. By the end, the former was up on her feet (Campbell exited midway), along with every other guest, reveling in what can best described as a party.
“Thank you everyone for coming out and supporting us in our very unusually show,” said co-designer Abrima Erwiah after the parade of performers and models strutted out. She then explained how Studio 189 was built on a “cradle-to-cradle philosophy” that aims to directly impact marginalized communities in sub-Saharan African, to help grow their GDP and create jobs. A video before the presentation gave an overview of the brand and its mission, but hearing it from her gave it more resonance. Then, actress Rosario Dawson, the other co-designer, went on to say how the event was being broadcast to the groups that created the clothes seen on the catwalk.
The collection was every bit as vibrant and energized as the show itself. There was a bevy of sophisticated kimonos, jumpsuits, elongated shirts and belted maxi dresses that were done in hand-woven textiles and tie-die techniques from West African. And instead of the requisite heels, the models all wore sneakers or raffia slippers, perhaps to enforce the sense of easy, no-fuss dressing that is a hallmark of the brand.
Another hallmark is that Studio 189 creates fashion for everyone. This was made apparent by the motley crew cast in the show. Women, men, children, an amputee, a pregnant lady and gender-benders strutted out with vivacity to a hollering crowd. They all seemingly understood that they were not just a part of a mere fashion show.
The Studio 189 spring 2019 collection is modeled during Fashion Week in New York, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Adeam’s designer Hanako Maeda has been steadily maturing season after season. And for Spring 2019, she showed her strongest collection yet. Her signature pleats and off-the-shoulder, asymmetrical silhouettes were given newfound vigor with neon colors, translucent PVC and more volume with the use of bows and billowy sleeves. Her tailored denim pieces where also great to look at.
Under the glare of moving stage lights, each model walked down the long catwalk, exuding “bon chic, bon genre.” Indeed, there were many elements akin to French couturier Christian Lacroix, as well as Lanvin, when it was overseen by Alber Elbaz. Both were fans of frills, poufs and showcasing power and authority in the form of pretty clothes. They were also partial to statement chokers and oversized crystal earrings, which Maeda utilized.
“I was inspired by the ’90s nightclub culture, which is why I chose the Tunnel as the venue,” she explained. “I was really inspired by kawaii culture, which means quirky-cute in Japanese. I looked to the Harajuku girls and what they wear. I was also really in the mood for a place where people came together and where new modes of fashion were born.”
One could see the Japanese references (there were Yamamoto-style suits and embroidered phoenixes on a number of looks), but it’s hard to imagine that the posh pieces she presented would have worked during the Tunnel’s heyday, when it was the site of raves filled with drag queens and emerging hip hop artists.
To be sure, she was wise not to go full throttle with the Tunnel theme and just take elements (the neon and PVC) to enhance her line. This resulted in a collection that was glamorous, wearable (apparently, many of them are machine washable) and speaks to her current clientele—women who would more likely be found at the Frick or a townhouse party on the Upper East Side.
Adeam Spring 2019 collection at New York Fashion Week.
As the designers of Oscar de la Renta, Monse’s Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia have gotten a lot of attention. Their shows are one of the hottest tickets at New York Fashion Week and usually bring out the heavy hitters at fashion glossies. So much so that the duo’s publicists still think it’s wise to invite only select publications (many of which are rumored to be folding). Read: this practice works for names like Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren and the pair’s other gig at Oscar, as they have enough standing in the industry and capital to be exclusive. But as a three-year-old brand, Monse would benefit from opening up their guest list in the future, if only but a little.
Thankfully, Fiji Water, the show’s sponsor, was able to fill in the media gaps that the brand overlooked. And it was great that they did because Monse’s collection was one to see.
Held at a dingy space near the Hudson River, Kim and Garcia staged a show that was a bit punk, a bit preppy and a whole lot of cool. The designers have been noted for deconstructing formal styles, altering them in ways that are edgy, but still elevated. They’ve done wonders with the white dress shirt and corporate suiting in the past. For Spring 2019, however, they decided to take their deft hands and tackle nautical themes.
There was an abundance of sailing stripes, ropes, chains and boating knot prints. This was also the first time the brand introduced menswear into its line. The oversized ruby shirts were particularly striking, as well as the silk scarf sandals. Overall, the lineup was a fresh perspective on the maritime motif, one that a hip girl—and now, guy—should definitely drop anchor for.
NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 07: Models walk the runway at the Monse Spring/Summer 2019 fashion show during New York Fashion Week on September 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Pietro D’aprano/FilmMagic,,)
Great shoes spark conversation. They also give women stature and confidence. These are the characteristics that Chloe Gosselin had in mind when she staged her Spring 2019 collection at Ideal Glass Studio.
“The whole presentation is about the women behind my brand, my customer, the girls that wear my shoes,” she said. “We are doing this collaboration with Rise Up and Vote, trying to push millennials to vote in November. Its about women from all backgrounds uniting and supporting each other.”
To emphasize this point, Gosselin had models sitting along a long table, talking with one another behind a screen with there only their shadows in view. The only parts of them that were clearly visible were their feet, which displayed her Spring 2019 collection.
It comprised of an assortment of satin boots, floral printed mules and linen sandals. Pops of vibrant colors (hot pink, honey yellow and sapphire blue) and flirty details (crystal tassels, gold chains and bamboo buckles) were sprinkled throughout the line, giving each shoe a sense of individualism. And yet, everything looked like they were part of one collective; one driving force; one sisterhood as it were.
Chloe Gosselin Spring 2019 collection at New York Fashion Week.
Follow Barry Samaha on Twitter (@barry_samaha) and Instagram (@barrysamaha).
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