Despite the newly appointed CFDA chairman Tom Ford reducing New York Fashion Week (NYFW) down to just five days, the jam-packed schedule spared no expense. The SS’20 ready-to-wear runway shows oozed all-American extravagance, from Ralph Lauren’s art deco soiree with Janelle Monae singing on tables, to Marc Jacobs' eccentric finale with a live choir.
“The general mood was optimistic. Designers were keen to highlight their conscious efforts by acknowledging their environmental impact.” Heather Gramston, Ready-to-Wear Buying Manager at Browns notes, despite the NYFW trademark excessiveness.
US based designer, Gabriela Hearst is known as an industry leader in efforts to operate in a more environmentally-responsible manner. Working with advisory group EcoAct she minimised her carbon footprint, hosting the first ever carbon-neutral fashion show at NYFW for SS’20. Hearst was not alone however, other designers were upcycling fabrics, like Hillary Taymour’s Collina Strada’s repurposed denim display or Chromat, featuring swim and bodywear crafted from fishing nets and vinyl garments made from the backdrop of their SS’15 runway.
“Khaite was a beautiful collection which really stood out.”
In terms of trends, Collina Strada, Kate Spadea and Marc Jacobs were the few collections filled with graphic prints, overall there were less patterns than previous seasons suggesting a more minimalist aesthetic and revolt from logo-mania, “In comparison to what we have seen over the last few seasons, there seemed to be a move away from print with a renewed focus on the fabric and textures of the clothes.”
Other designers did display overt femininity instead through silhouettes and detailing, with Oscar de La Renta, Ralph Lauren and Caroline Herrera ball-gowns, lots of peter pan collars and underwear as outerwear. Jason Wu also returned to schedule with a presentation of playful yet refined evening-wear. Fashion Director of Moda Operandi, Lisa Aiken commented, “There were romantic necklines like the sweetheart and skin-baring off-the-shoulder.” She continues to state that this example was best seen at Khaite, “The collection was strong. It’s evolved to be quite a lot more feminine, with more design content.”
Three-year-old brand Khaite - responsible for that viral Katie Holmes cashmere bra and cardigan combination - was popular among other buyers too, with Browns’ Gramston spotlighting it as a favourite, “It was a beautiful collection which really stood out,” she says.
Aside from a continuation of feminine and frilly womenswear throughout, there was a broad range of tailoring. Of course, brands like Helmut Lang and Tibi provided their signature suiting, as did Dion Lee, teamed with underwear as outerwear. Aiken adds that, “The short suit was a power pairing seen both on and off the runway at NYFW.”
“Shows were delivering theatricality and grandeur like Ralph Lauren, while other shows were upbeat and fun like Tommy Ton’s Deveaux.”
Powerful tailoring was also seen at The Row and Proenza Shouler, continuing both of their strong brand identities. Trend-wise, though, across the schedule colours popped: “Citrus brights were particularly prominent with shots of neon, with more of a 90’s vibe,” Aiken says.
Perhaps it was the bright hues that set a theme of positivity, the excitement of Rihanna’s exclusive Fenty x Savage show (to premiere tomorrow on Amazon prime), or maybe it was the widespread party themed shows - from the spectacle runway shows to Gucci and Saks Fifth Avenue’s closing night at burlesque club The Box. Either way, Aiken summarises: “There was an emphasis on experience. A lot of shows were delivering theatricality and grandeur like Ralph Lauren, while other shows were upbeat and fun like Tommy Ton’s Deveaux. It was a really positive season.”