Tom Ford, chairman of the CFDA, addressed his industry looking like the Zoolander cliché of a fashion person, wearing oversized sunglasses and an all-black ensemble featuring a satin scarf tied around his neck. He spoke with the affected accent of an American college student just back from studying in London.
What should clothes look like right now? “The last thing I want to see are serious clothes,” he said. “We want to escape, we want to smile—what’s going on in the world doesn’t make us want to smile, but the customer is going to walk into the store in spring and respond to the clothes that make them feel happy, the clothes that make them feel secure.”
So those clothes he designed, which he released in a look book rather than his typical, celeb-studded runway affair, reflect a general sense of fun. Zebra and cheetah print abound in the form of party dresses and hot pants bearing an elastic waist that reads his name. There are sweeping, bedazzled caftans, jumpsuits with necks down to the belly button, and crochet bikinis.
Ford finished his remarks reminding everyone what followed the pandemic of 1918. “We had the roaring 20s, and it all came back,” he said with aplomb, apparently forgetting how that decade ended. Alaina Demopoulos
Hillary Taymour worked straight through quarantine; when The Daily Beast checked in with the Collina Strada designer back in early April, she and her dog Powwow were walking from their Brooklyn apartment to Chinatown studio every morning, over a nearly-empty Williamsburg Bridge.
In the early days of the pandemic, she was hard at work making masks with deadstock fabric from her old collections; Taymour could produce about 30-40 a day. Now, we get to see what’s in store for next year. Collina Strada clothing always has a sense of humor and the shows are often events; this year’s digital offering was a video with a pulsing club beat soundtrack featuring the refrain, “I care a lot and I wear Collina Strada.”
The result was VSCO girl on acid; models posed in front of cartoon backdrops and animal cartoons. One cow danced in the background as a model moved along in a skintight jumpsuit—a sight that can only be described as Joaquin Phoenix’s dream for humanity.
Bedazzled reusable water bottles are part of the collection, because the Collina Strada girl would never be caught dead drinking from the plastic kind. The clothes may have been a little expected—Taymour’s been designing the same kind of tie dye sweatsuits, ab-bearing crop tops, and painted cargo pants for years now—but she does it well, and her audience clearly loves it. Plus, a friendly dolphin shooting by as models walk didn’t hurt in the charm department. AD
Alice + Olivia
Alice + Olivia—the label helmed by designer Stacey Bendet—is known for hosting bold and flamboyant presentations. This year’s remote event stayed on brand with a vivid digital feast for the eyes. Opening with a bold emerald green ensemble worn by a violin player, the mini-film moved quickly from color to color, as the brand’s monochromatic ensembles were shown on an array of dancers whose wardrobe changed color palettes to match with their backgrounds.
There were bedazzled face masks, and an array of looks in pink, red, black, and bohemian paisley prints. The film was a joyful celebration of beauty and a wonderful escape from daily life, which is to say, it was everything that Fashion Week should be. Sarah Shears
Kim Shui’s Fashion Week video was a postcard to New York, featuring a group of people talking about their experiences of being here during the pandemic. It wasn’t a rah-rah hymn to NYC, it wasn’t a misery-fest. It featured people just trying to figure it out and get by, day-to-day, which is made even more challenging when you have cancer as one of the speakers did.
Other participants talked about a range of issues, personal and social—the importance of recognizing trans rights as human rights, work, missing friends, and missing going out to eat. Someone talked about the sometimes-liberating elements of the last few months—taking care of oneself, finding new ways of living and socializing. The video was grainy and intimate, flowing from day to night; and Kim Shui’s clothes looked as natural a part of the urban landscape as the voices speaking. Tim Teeman
Every year, you can count on Sandy Liang to inject NYFW with what it was made to promote: the city’s effortless cool factor. Her clothes are made with a millennial’s nostalgia for mid-90s minimalism; at times photos from the spring collection’s look book seem to be ripped from an old Jane magazine contact sheet.
Liang’s made a name for herself churning out cozy fleeces, and those remain a signature—great when the pandemic sads hit you hard and you need a cuddle, stat. Another motif of the line, I regret to inform you, is visible thongs, which she’s affixed top the top of low-rise skirts. I pray these don’t become A Thing, though I suppose people with abs would love them. There are plenty of miniskirts in the mix too; a pleated one is cute, especially when thrown under an oversized fleece. It’s all very girlish, lacking pretension, and unabashedly cute. AD
Edvin Thompson calls his clothing line Theophilio a “wearable biography,” and his NYFW debut celebrated immigrant stories like his own. The Jamaican-born, Brooklyn-based designer has an eye for upcycling clothing, and his creations walk a very appealing line between glamorous and thrifty.
Thompson does not shy away from bright colors; one ballet pink slip dress with green piping on the seams was a standout, as was a crimson red fur coat with matching trousers. The clothes have been crafted with an ease, and lots of chutzpah—if this is how Thompson designs despite the restraints of a pandemic, it’s worth investing time, money, and energy into seeing what he can do in the future. AD