Tracking all the standouts from this season’s top collections.
NYC is the city of dreams, and the first one out of the gate for Fashion Month. See what the city’s designers have to offer for Spring 2021 with the five best looks from each standout collection.
Kate and Laura Mulleavy have always created Rodarte through a dream lens, and that feeling exists for Spring 2021 even without the pomp and circumstance of a runway. Although the bridal themed collection that walked in an Upper East Side church last season was certainly evocative, we still have brides for spring, except this time around they’re frolicking on sun dappled mountains. The Rodarte woman is also exploring ’40s–inspired suiting and an array of loungewear from printed pajamas to logo sweatsuits—all topped off with a flower crown, of course. The design duo is embracing uncertainty here, knowing that women might still desire that standout piece, but are also in need comfort now. —Kerry Pieri
While Hanako Maeda would typically be in New York come September, the designer has been quarantining in Tokyo with her family. Adeam’s Spring 2021 collection was, therefore, that much more global—showcased live in Japan, and released virtually to time with New York Fashion Week.
Maeda typically infuses elements of her heritage into her garments, but this season it was all about summertime in Japan, illustrated through linen and cotton, the fabrics traditionally used to make yukata, the warm weather kimono traditionally worn to “summer festivals and hot springs.” Those fabrications appeared in a myriad of forms, from easy dresses to wide-leg trousers. They were joined by the brand’s go-to Japanese crepe and cotton poplin, which were used to create convertible (and comfortable) daytime pieces. In a mid-pandemic world where designers are challenged to dictate what a now sweatpants-obsessed clientele will wear next Spring, it seems Maeda has the answer: easy, breezy, effortless silhouettes—in a hopeful palette of soft blues, camel, whites, sunset orange and rich fushia—that are just as comfortable, but feel infinitely more polished than loungewear. —Carrie Goldberg
Jason Wu is one of the few designers who presented in-person for New York Fashion Week, keeping his show small and adhering to COVID-19 restrictions. Set against tropical foliage on a boardwalk-inspired runway that calls to mind one of Wu’s favorite destinations, Tulum, Mexico, the designer showed a range of easy warm-weather ready maxi dresses and suiting in bold, bright shades of orange and yellow, offset with blues and greens. The cotton poplins and lightweight knits are part of his new contemporary-priced line, and serve as inviting propositions to wear on an escape from the city—or for a new life in closer proximity to nature. Wu took his bow wearing one of the “Distance Yourself From Hate” masks he designed in collaboration with Fabien Baron to benefit Gay Men’s Health Crisis, an organization food and PPE to communities of color who have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic and social injustice. —Kerry Pieri
Ulla Johnson is the reigning queen of bohemian cool, and this season she takes us to Japan, even if it’s just a journey of the imagination. Johnson references ceremonial dress and traditional Japanese artisanal techniques—including shibori resist dyeing, hand weaving, and boro patchwork— in looks that meld structure with a welcome delicacy. There’s plenty of crocheted knitwear and easy denim pieces, as well as cascading ruffles on romantic looks that manage not to abandon an urban sensibility. The message is clear: no matter where we’re living or how we’re living, a pretty dress is always a welcome proposition. —Kerry Pieri
This season may just end up being about finding your cozy profile. Are you a sweatpants girl? A fancy pajamas lady? A maxi skirt and knit woman? If the latter describes you, Brock is your first stop. Designers Kristopher Brock and Laura Vassar hewed closely to their brand DNA of floral gowns, cool jeans, and other feminine staples, while lightening up the fabrications and playing with layering. The results are just the dreamy, beachside looks a certain woman will be searching for come spring. –Kerry Pieri
Private Policy is a label unafraid to address social issues—Fall 2020 was themed around Big Pharma—but this new collection called “Searching for Aphrodite” felt more immediately personal, albeit no less political. Co-designers Haoran Li and Siying Qu, who created it together while separately self-isolating in New York and Shanghai, respectively, wanted to unpack the idea of beauty and self-love. There was a new ease to the collection thanks to soft Grecian drapes and relaxed tailoring in calming shades of sage and lilac, shown on an inclusive range of modern muses including amputee model and singer Marsha Elle and trans model and activist Dominique Castelano. —Alison S. Cohn
Olivia Cheng describes her floral dress collection Dauphinette as “the happiest brand on earth.” It might be one of the most environmentally friendly too, thanks to the young designer’s focus on lowering her carbon footprint by making her puff-sleeve mini dresses and floor-sweeping maxis from deadstock twills and innovative bio-based fabrics like rose petal silk. From a hand-painted vintage leather jacket and a crop top formed from daisies preserved in tree-derived resin to earrings made from the wings of butterflies collected at the end of the creatures’ natural life cycle, circularity is the message. —Alison S. Cohn