All the Major Highlights from New York Fashion Week
New York Fashion Week was off to a strange start. For starters, some of our favorite designers were missing from the calendar – Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and Tom Ford. Also missing on the runway were the usual suspects, Bella and Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Winnie Harlow. With the exception of Emily Ratajkowski and Amber Valetta, there was a lack of familiar faces walking the shows. Still, the show must go on, and it did.
On the celebrity front, Michael Kors took the prize for the most star-studded front row. Leni Klum, Gloria Steinem, Ellen Pompeo, Kate Hudson, and Mindy Kaling all were there to show their support for the designer. Tory Burch also had her share of glitterati in attendance, which included Ashley Graham and Halima Aden.
Designers showed their love for leather for the upcoming fall/winter season – almost every show we reviewed featured the hardy material – be it as trimmings or as entire outfits. At Khaite, there were floor-length coats, at Coach, leather scraps were turned into cropped leather jackets, and Dion Lee showed leather mini-dresses. Shearling, too, was big for the upcoming season and so were tailored suits. Clothes-wise, wearability took precedence for many, except for the brilliant Thom Browne. But he’s always been the exception, not the rule.
For Proenza Schouler’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez were thinking about what women actually want. The clothes focused on comfort without compromising style – think loose-fitted yet tailored suits, swishy skirts, cozy oversized knits, and chic dresses. Their show last week marked 20 years on the NYFW calendar – and yet it wasn’t a retrospective. Instead, the collection was forward-facing and set the tone for what is to come in the next decade. Prints and embellishments were a rarity – except for pompom fringes that dangled from sash pleated dresses or hints of floral peeking from the pleats. Elsewhere, blazers dominated – some sculpted at the waist and held together with a leather string, others, roomy and cut to perfection. Leather followed in the form of a sublime, red strapless dress or A-line, wrap, and pencil skirts – all very wearable.
Updated versions of past best sellers were seen too. Case in point: The velvet tie-dye shirt dresses were colored via a new technique called ice dying – where ice cubes made of dye melt over the entire garment. The result: a colorway that fades from midnight blue to light blue or dark brown to silver. Without a doubt, the sparkly dresses made from sequin-embedded yarn paired with matching boots stole the show. From afar, they were deceptively simple. Twisted complexly on the hip, they elevated the silhouette, making them anything but simple.
Butterfly was the word for Prabal Gurung’s Fall/Winter 2023 show. The recurring motif was seen throughout the show – on asymmetrical gowns, on the reinvented kamarband (sash belts) trailing from tailored trousers, and blanket style high-low dresses and sweaters. The traditional choli was reimagined in various ways. As a red, cropped jacket, it was empowering; as a full-sleeved cropped top, it was chic and feminine. Overall, the shapes were strong, and the draping was lovely. A series of glamorous dresses followed in slip dress styles, and accents of ruffles and cut-outs. When it came to outerwear, there was nothing extraordinary about the pink teddy coat, the striped duster with orange fringing and the floor-length terracotta coat with oversized lapels stood out. Although the clothes were mostly excellent, the pink mid-thigh tuxedo jacket paired with matching trousers was neither here nor there.
Dion Lee presented a strong case for statement outerwear. We’re talking ultra-cool bomber jackets with corset-style cuts – each one other better than the other. A cropped beige shearling number with high-neck and leather detailing running through the sleeves or another puffy, ice grey zip-up leather jacket or a translucent pink inflatable jacket were all winners. If those weren’t attention-grabbing enough, out came the long coats – a black floor-length one with an uneven hemline and little fur squares (reminiscent of a crocodile’s belly) on the leather stole the show.
Lee loves a bit of sex appeal in his clothes, so there were slinky dresses with interesting surface treatments. A silk slip dress featured chain appliqué all over it, while a crocheted dress had a chain link running down from the midriff. Elsewhere, leather dominated in the form of sexy mini-dresses with reptilian references and bandeau tops. And while the ripped hosiery may not pique interest in the region, we reckon the outerwear will fly off the shelves.
Tory Burch knows how to make really good clothes. Not the kinds that won’t see the light of day once the season changes – but clothes that you want to wear repeatedly. The same holds for her Fall/Winter 2023 collection. With American sportswear pioneer Claire McCardell on her mind, it’s not surprising the lineup featured relaxed silhouettes, sharp tailoring, and elevated sportswear. Wrap skirts held together loosely by a giant safety pin (remember the Scottish kilts most of us wore as kids) and loose-fitted sweaters with pre-scrunched sleeves in delicious colors were knockout separates.
Long, slouchy pants in various fabrics followed – denim, velvet, satin, and wool – it was hard to pick a favorite. Burch also played around with the idea of exposing shapewear. And so came a series of sleeveless blouses – all with mesh, lace, and satin detailing forming the shape of a bra on the exterior. Plenty of chic dresses were also on the offering – a cream, off-shoulder number and an acid green satin dress stitched backward topped our list. The outerwear, too, was very strong this season – particularly the navy peacoat with a shearling collar and tweed coat cinched at the waist. Did we mention Burch makes really good clothes?
Carolina Herrera’s Creative Director Wes Gordon was thinking of the Netflix show The Empress when he designed this collection. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the clothes were fit for modern-day royalty – or someone who wants to feel like that anyway. There were regal touches everywhere – the skirt suit laden with jewels and the rich gold embroidery on a black gown were stellar examples. A master of construction, Gordon played around with proportions. A purple and green colored sporty evening dress came with an anorak and slouchy sleeves, while a bright yellow number was bursting with ruffles in three tiers – none of it looked over the top.
Overall, the collection was overflowing with joie de vivre – with vibrant colors like bright pink, yellow, and red – how could it not? A yellow and pink number with a red sash and a flouncy lilac dress with black tulle underneath got full marks. Ultimately though, all eyes were on the luminous bullion gown paired with a matching puffer jacket. That look was pure gold.
At Khaite, Catherine Holstein grabbed attention with nary a surface decoration in sight. Instead, this collection was about empowered silhouettes and strict tailoring in luxurious fabrics. From floor-length double-breasted coats in various textiles to shorter leather jackets, shearling trimmed camisoles, and chic sweaters– the label's Fall/Winter 2023 collection was powerful from start to finish. Refined leather looks consisted of flouncy A-line skirts (the white one, in particular, was delicious), straight-legged trousers, and Matrix-style jackets. Then, of course, there was shearling – and lots of it. Those green teddy pants and black shearling pumps were part cozy, part fabulous. Updated versions of the AED 50,000 'Ada' coat were there too – and we gravitated towards the forest green one with black leather trim. A high-neck maxi dress with chiffon pleats and a hooded cape is what we will be wearing to our next secret society initiation rites.
Outerwear is what Philip Lim does best, exemplified by his 3.1 Philip Lim Fall/Winter 2023 collection. From washed denim hoodies to ultra-cool bomber jackets and parkas – there was plenty to be desired. A green puffer jacket came with a peacoat-style collar, and another variety was part puffer vest, part long coat – interesting styles, both of them. Elsewhere, he revamped varsity jackets and preppy blazers with his spin— case in point: the grey number with gold buttons and a 'PL' crest on the pocket. Sure, there were other clothes too – ruffled dresses and lace-trimmed skirts and pants – a red floral number juxtaposed with a Chinatown shopping bag print, in particular, was very pleasing. And so was the bubble skirt.
Let’s face it; very few do relaxed glamour like Brandon Maxwell. This time, suiting was strong featuring lots of oversized short suits with elasticized waists. Leather came in abundance; a chocolate brown dress with a plunging neckline, a bandeau top, and a fur-trimmed biker jacket were all top-notch. Bell sleeves brought in some drama –adorning an alpaca wool peplum top and an off-shoulder, grey midi dress. Except for a bejeweled overlay and a long duster coat, embellishments were kept to a minimum. The tailoring spoke for itself. When you walk into a room wearing a beautifully constructed cream-column dress with a keyhole neckline is all the embellishment you’ll need.
Meanwhile, Jason Wu celebrated beautifully made dresses. With this show, however, one gets the sense that he's evolved. There was an element of menswear tailoring evident in blazers and coats. The opening look, in particular, was divine – a deconstructed black jacket with one ruffle on the side, and so was a pantsuit in mustard yellow. Dresses were plenty in multiple themes – some flirty with cascading ruffles and others with voluminous skirts. With the nipple-baring trend in full swing (on red carpets and otherwise), the fringed dresses made with actual bra straps paired with high-waisted briefs will surely tickle the fancy of daring dressers. Other highlights include delicate chiffon dresses and a sweeping ballgown with a fitted busier and a frayed chiffon hem peeking from atop.
Johnathan Simkhai is on the road to rebranding. He just dropped his first name from his namesake label which is now Simkhai and debuted a new 'S' logo in the final looks of the show. Both are smart decisions. On the runway were updated versions of some familiar silhouettes – those cutout dresses – this time, they were held together with gold hardware on the midriff. Elsewhere, there was a whole lot of pulling things apart ¬– the deconstructed tank tops in white and silver, the jagged edges of the leather skirt, and the uneven hemmed dresses. Bestsellers will most definitely be the stiff cropped jackets, crinkled metallic knits, and of course, Emily Ratajkowski’s blazer dress sporting the new logo, which is already blazing its way through social media.
When looking at Rodarte’s Fall/Winter 23 collection, the ultimate misanthrope, Wednesday Addams, instantly comes to mind. With her all-black outfits, grungy boots, and girly braid, it’s almost as if she was Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s muse. Of the 61 looks presented, many of them were black. Dramatic jersey dresses opened the show – complete with trumpet sleeves touching the floor as the models walked. Jersey swiftly turned into velvet with plunging necklines or leg-o-mutton sleeves and, subsequently, Victorian-style detailing.
The duo then injected a burst of color – one can’t help but think of Enid Sinclair (Wednesday’s roommate). The Mulleavy sister's mother’s sketches of fairies beautifully graced the billowy technicolored kaftans with tulle piping around the edges, and one even had wings attached. Their signature cobweb knits (all handmade) also came in various silhouettes – the black jumpsuit being our favorite. And if things couldn’t get more dramatic, the silver and gold fringed dresses at the end took things to another level. This was craftsmanship at its finest and undoubtedly one of the best collections from NYFW.
The most viral show from NYFW was Thom Browne’s, hands down. The CFDA chairman left no stone unturned when presenting his Fall/Winter 2023 collection. The set featured a crashed airplane with stars and planets hanging above. While most New York designers showcased wearable clothes, Browne turned the other way with his fantastical lineup, inspired by The Little Prince. Layering, as always, was key, as was complex garment construction. The opening look consisted of a corseted patchwork jumpsuit with sculptural sleeves worn over a duchesse silk dress with silk thread fringes. A series of intarsia dresses followed, all depicting the little prince’s visits to the six planets.
A series of tweed looks were next, and the jackets came with ultra-exaggerated shoulders. Browne knows the difference between ideas and being commercial – he’d rather stick to the former – a great respite when luxury fashion seems to go the mass market way these days. Next came a series of deconstructed suits used as overlays – from ties to shirt sleeves and tartan – everything was amalgamated into one look. The finale? An ivory gown with a tweed bust and a skirt made from dinner jackets, shirts, and trousers. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
Joseph Altuzarra presented his strongest collection to date. With a lineup bursting with colors and references to nature, Greek mythology, and perhaps ancient rituals, all 49 looks were floor-length. The fur-trimmed plush parkas with Rorschach prints, sweeping brushed woolen duster coats, and cropped peplum jackets were all excellent. As were his hooded and beautifully draped Grecian gowns. A series of botanical column dresses followed, and each was hand-painted with prints that were carefully placed to mirror the anatomy of the human body. Elsewhere, he played around with leather using it for opera gloves or more dresses. And somewhere in our minds, we dream of a parallel universe where we’ll be wearing those otherworldly couture-like satin parkas that closed the show to work every day.
Michael Kors’ Fall/Winter 2023 lineup closed fashion week with a bang with a celebrity-packed front row. Featuring a primarily neutral color palette with a dash of jewel tones, the designer sent down an array of timeless silhouettes. This collection had obvious references from the 70s – bell bottom jumpsuits, bell sleeves, fringed dresses, oversized glasses, and extra-wide belts. Elsewhere, there was classic outerwear that will remain in style a decade from now – a cream woolen cape and a tan duster coat were standouts. That was the beauty of this show – it was about clothes that transcend seasons and are meant to be cherished. Other hits included knit dresses with slits, beautifully tailored suits, and those short shorts.