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New York Fashion Week’s Best Looks

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New York Fashion Week’s Best Looks

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.


Carolina Herrera

For all the designers who went to the drawing board this spring thinking of practicality and pieces meant for a life lived closer to home, others went guns blazing in the opposite direction. Wes Gordon belongs to the second camp and found himself falling deeper in love with fashion as he returned to his atelier post-lockdown. “Fashion is healing for the soul,” he said in the show notes, a way to make “ordinary moments extraordinary.” He committed to making this collection ultra-Carolina too, taking all the color, volume, and feminine accents the label is known for and turning the volume way up. The result, not surprisingly, will thrill the Herrera woman. There are puffed sleeves, floor-sweeping silhouettes, bows, and polka dots. Nods to Mrs. Herrera, perennial best-dressed lister, are throughout, from the belted gowns to the crisp white shirt tucked into a mini with embroidered tulips that gleam like jewels. All together, these clothes put you in a New York City doyenne frame of mind.—Leah Melby Clinton

Christopher John Rogers

For many designers, quarantine was a time of reckoning what really matters, of tapering down to the bare essentials. This sentiment certainly rang true for Christopher John Rogers, who presented a collection inspired by kindergarten mainstays of primary colors and geometrical shapes. “Really thinking about what inspires us, and how we feel when we make clothes that we love was the starting point for this new collection,” John Rogers tells BAZAAR.com. “During the beginning of quarantine, I spent some of my time doodling using old crayons and colored pencils—not rendering anything representational, but just having fun with color. Manifesting that energy into clothes was what this collection was all about.” He was also inspired by artists Corita Kent and Angela de la Cruz, and how they used simple forms to create momentous works that comment on the socio-political climate. The results? A lineup of oversized silk suits in bright hues, gowns with corset-like bustiers, and colorblocked knit dresses that are playful, vibrant, and speak to the optimism that is so needed in these uncertain times.—Barry Samaha

The Row

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen understand that there is beauty in simplicity. And for the spring 2021 season, The Row designers drove this point home, presenting a collection of sizable coats, boxy button-downs, and roomy suits in shades of black, beige, and white. These qualities are certainly not new for the label (oversized silhouettes and monochromatic neutrals are in The Row’s DNA), but in the era of biz-leisure, when working from home is standard, this sense of calm and comfort (both mentality and sartorially) is perhaps what we should all adopt.—Barry Samaha

Coach

Stuart Vevers is on a mission to lower Coach’s carbon footprint. To that end, the lookbook for Coach Forever, as the creative director named his spring 2021 collection, makes the case for slow fashion. It remixes the American heritage brand’s past, present, and future styles in remotely shot portraits of 16 international, multigenerational celebrities shot by Juergen Teller. “Past” and “Present” comprise fall 2020 styles and reissued greatest hits from the recent archive—a Keith Haring t-shirt (2018) and NASA logo sweatshirt (2017)—as well as a made in New York capsule, all of which are available immediately. “Future,” of course, is the newness you’re going to be wanting next spring. And at Coach, what’s old is new again: trench coats inspired by classic ’60s Bonnie Cashin pieces as well as actual vintage jeans and oversized men’s shirting that Vevers has given a new lease on life with seasonal embroidery. Taken together they offer a vision for a more mindful future, one involving pieces to buy and love forever. —Alison S. Cohn

Tom Ford

In a candid letter to accompany his Spring 2021 collection, Tom Ford explains his mindset while designing this collection, saying, “fashion itself just seemed like an extravagance. It was hard to focus, to concentrate, and to be inspired.” Continuing, “I thought about skipping the season altogether. After all when no one can go out of their house, who needs new clothes?” But design a collection, he did, inspired in part by a documentary about the fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez that Ford watched while in lock-down and the women in his circle like model Pat Cleveland. The result is a mix of what the CFDA president calls, “classic relaxed clothes but clothes that make me smile. Clothes to have a bit of fun in.” Think: silky PJs, knit maxi dresses, cobalt logo leisure sets, bikinis and printed caftans, some airy statement gowns, and a leopard print jumpsuit. Chill but not staid. This is still Tom Ford, after all. —Kerry Pieri

Eckhaus Latta

With COVID times leaving native New Yorkers to explore their hometown on daily strolls and long haul jogs, there seemed no better place to showcase an array of easy daytime pieces than on a running path underneath the FDR Drive. And like any leg-stretching daytime stroll, the chic cast of Eckhaus Latta’s latest show donned masks for their strut down the jogging lane cum runway. Per the DNA of the outside-the-box brand, a poem was presented in lieu of show notes. It resonated, as did the clothes. “We wanted you to be comfortable,” Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta said. Indeed, in loads of crochet and knitwear pieces that would be just as effortless barefoot at home as they would be (distanced) at the office or a weekend brunch—al fresco, of course. —Carrie Goldberg

Christian Siriano

In a season that was marked overwhelmingly by digital lookbooks consisting of no-fuss basics, Chrstian Siriano presented a backyard spectacle in Westport, Connecticut that brought the pomp and pageantry. The designer’s quarantine doldrums—spent binging on favorite films from his childhood like Clueless, Troop Beverly Hills, and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead—inspired a whimsical collection filled with bikini tops and larger-than-life ball skirts, frocks with pronounced shoulders, and suits cast in playful patterns. He paired all of the looks with SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker heels and the season’s most important accessory, and one that was absent from too many presentations at New York Fashion Week: matching masks. He also used some of those face coverings, as well as wide-brimmed hats and a fishtail dress, to send another important message: “Vote.”—Barry Samaha

LaQuan Smith

For many designers operating in a global pandemic, completing a collection in time for New York Fashion Week was a race to the finish. This car analogy especially rang true for LaQuan Smith, who took inspiration from ’70s automotive culture. He was especially taken by pastel Cadillacs from the decade, and we can’t help but picture his roster of celeb fans—including the Kardashians and Jennifer Lopez—hopping on board. The sleek halter dresses, gauzy slips, and sultry cut-outs are made for them. They are looks that will certainly stop anyone in their tracks.—Barry Samaha

LRS

Spring 2021 marks the 5th anniversary of LRS, designer Raul Solís’s genderless—or “Gender X” as he likes to call it—collection. And to celebrate the occasion, the Proenza Schouler alum served up the cool denim he’s known for in new elevated shapes, including knee-length tailored shorts and a couture-like bubble mini dress with a built in cape. His signature wit and new attention to silhouette were also evident in an ethereal blue acetate overcoat with heavy chain details and an XL ribbed turtleneck dress that can be worn above the nose as a face covering, while leaving the midriff exposed. —Alison S. Cohn

Maxhosa Africa

Though 10 years in business and with fans that includes Beyoncé’s stylist, Zerina Akers, Maxhosa Africa has mostly flown under the radar. But with his spring 2021 collection, South African designer Laduma Ngxokolo intends to get his vision across loud and clear. “In the midst of sadness, it is very important to give people hope,” Ngxokolo said at the end of a runway video that was prerecorded in Capetown. “Happiness is a new luxury.” The collection, dubbed Ingumangaliso Imisebenzi Ka Thixo (which translates to “God’s Work Is Miraculous”), Xhosa, manifested this sentiment via vibrant colors, rich knit fabrics, and playful patterns. From column dresses to crop tops paired with bodycon skirts to relaxed, yet refined suits, Ngxokolo transformed wardrobe staples into eye-catching looks that celebrated triumph over darkness. —Barry Samaha

Khaite

Catherine Holstein has been churning out insider-favorite collections for seasons, each with their own unique DNA that adds to Khaite’s distinctive brand identity. Spring 2021 feels almost like a distilled best-of from the young label—all of the pieces that seem to sell out of each collection reworked here. That translated to a sparse palette of mostly white, black, nudes, and brown on puff sleeve tops, sumptuous knits, sleek fitted dresses, and suede and leather jackets. If now is about building a perfect, edited wardrobe, this feels like a great place to start. —Kerry Pieri

Claudia Li

With travel bans and orders to social distance still (mostly) in effect, Claudia Li scoured her memories for inspiration. She landed on her own destination wedding on Oahu last September. Titled “Till We Meet Again…,” the collection reflects the colorful, easygoing vibe of island life, but not in an overt way. To wit: A structured shirt dress features a custom tropical flower organza jacquard, and a yellow tulle bow-neck overlay is worn casually over a black maillot and accessorized with large coral-shaped earrings, as though Li’s woman got back from the beach just in time to log onto a Zoom gala. Sculpture artist Kennedy Yanko modeled each of the looks, perfectly capturing Li’s signature streetwise, sporty aesthetic and the vibrant motifs of Hawaiian culture. —Barry Samaha

Marina Moscone

With raw hems and dropped shoulders, there’s a thread running through Marina Moscone’s Spring 2021 collection that captures the way we all have gotten dressed for the better part of a year: Undone even when fully outfitted. She spoke about being inspired by the pragmatic fashion choices of New York City’s chicest women during the ongoing pandemic. That latter push-and-pull materialized in knit dresses and tunics, easy pieces that look effortlessly elegant. Moscone’s brand of tailoring and artful twists and tucks are beautifully approachable always, but especially needed now. There’s nothing too fussy or constrictive about it, allowing us to bring those clean lines into the mix without feeling like we’re throwing it back to a time when popping by our local dry cleaner’s was a regular part of our routine. That New Yorker she was watching has certainly had to adapt over the past few months—she was paying close attention. —Leah Melby Clinton

Sandy Liang

Sandy Liang often finds inspiration from nostalgia, looking back to look forward—but not too far back in time. The designer tends to look toward her youth for inspiration, but for Spring 2021, she focused on her current mood as much as her obsessions from the past. While many of the collections this season stood to be stifled by the pandemic pause, Liang noted that this time, she had “more time to breathe, to think and draw freely.” That freedom resulted in separates we’d all want to wear during and post lockdown, as well as a cheeky “Margot print” that graced dresses, tops, and skirts—designed in collaboration with Rabin. The print is an ode to Liang’s forever inspiration Margot Tenenbaum and Ponyo (a Japanese cartoon), and sat well with the micro mini skirts, gingham, and a fleece jacket with Lisa Frank-esque blooms down the sleeves. Other notes on nostalgia the designer embraced included super low-rise bottoms, cheerleader-style tennis skirts, and pieces that riffed on the standard crop top. —Carrie Goldberg

Maisie Wilen

Maisie Schloss is no stranger to the fashion industry. Indeed, the Los Angeles-based designer has worked for Yeezy, and counts the Kardashian-Jenner clan as fans. She was set to make her New York Fashion Week debut this season, but even though she had to make do with a lookbook instead, the format worked in her favor. “My collection’s theme explores the effect of viewing images instead of having live interactions with design,” she said in a statement. “Coincidentally lockdown generated the exact environment of rarely seeing things in person, an ironically perfect setting for this research.” Schloss’s fan favorites like jersey and perforated knit pieces were present and she explored new fabrications such as silk and woven metallics with faded milky color schemes that convincingly replicated our Zoom called world. —Barry Samaha

Bevza

Take the coolest girl you know and imagine what it would look like if she designed the clothes she’d want to wear; that, in essence, is what you have in Bevza. The Ukrainian label’s spring collection is chock full of sleek dresses and separates that appear simple until you spot the oversized stitch at the hem or the fine gauge of the fabric. These are the staples you already have in your closet, but better, different. Slices at the midriff, billowing openings at the knees, and closures shaped like chunks of coral found on a deserted beach create a romantic, deconstructed feel, as if our heroine washed up on some new island with only a single trunk of perfect separates in tow. —Leah Melby Clinton

Overcoat

Take a bit of prep, add a dash of arts and crafts, then finish with a swirl of tennis team and—voila, Overcoat Spring 2021. The streamlined shapes could belong to any decade, supporting the idea that moving forward, we’ll be hunting for pieces that can live in our wardrobes for years. The spring-weight outerwear (fuss-free car coats, perfectly cut trenches) is endlessly adaptable to whatever layers your heart desires. If you’re a head-to-toe Overcoat sort, that’ll mean faded pastel blouses, tailored bottoms, and, or a matched set of dip-dyed separates that can be worn as a full look or on their own. —Leah Melby Clinton

Aknvas

What if we had to craft shopping profiles the way we do dating-site bios? “Woman who loves bright colors and cheerful silhouettes seeks something different that’s tailored but relaxed and ready for staying in or going out.” One could be chided for asking for the stars—but then you haven’t met Aknvas. Designer Christian Juul Nielsen hails from Copenhagen (AKA Ganni-land) and spent time at Dior under John Galliano. He escaped to the Caribbean when the pandemic hit, designing Spring 2021 from that sunshine-soaked place. Those personal details explain the delightfully madcap attitude of the voluminous shirting, candy colors, and this-all-goes-together styling. There’s nary a neutral in sight, though if you’ve been jonesing to return to the fashion-is-fun side of things will you even mind? —Leah Melby Clinton

Veronica Beard

Designers Veronica Miele Beard and Veronica Swanson Beard didn’t have to look far to source inspiration for their Spring 2021 collection titled Wildflowers. It “came from looking inwards and from finding peace and freedom outdoors,” the duo jointly said in a statement. Their lookbook features models frolicking in verdant fields wearing bikini tops under floral sundresses and polished blazers as well as jumpsuits and maxi dresses the color of sunrise, speaking to their hope for brighter days ahead. —Barry Samaha

Anna Sui

Anna Sui told she’s all about exploring the “new now” for Spring 2021 and that focus was apparent from mask to toe. The gingerbread house set served as a perfect backdrop for the on point accessory styling—sandals worn with socks, as if the models stepped outside realizing they needed to pull on shoes. From more refined versions of the nap dresses that have proliferated as of late to knee-length shorts and roomy trousers, these are silhouettes designed for the well-dressed WFHer who might need to join a video call at a moment’s notice. Sui’s bohemian aesthetic works best when comfort is a priority, resulting in a well calibrated mix of what we find ourselves both wanting and needing from clothes at the moment: namely, cozy pieces that are also redolent of the things we’ve always cherished about fashion (an embroidered trim, gossamer-thin ruffles that only serve to delight). Sui offered a blueprint of how to get dressed next year and enjoy it. —Leah Melby Clinton

Rodarte

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

Adeam

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 show was, therefore, that much more global: filmed live in Japan, and released virtually to time with New York Fashion Week.

Maeda typically infuses some 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 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 an answer: easy, breezy, effortless silhouettes—in a hopeful palette of soft blues, camel, whites, sunset orange. and rich fuchsia—that are just as comfortable, but feel infinitely more polished than loungewear. —Carrie Goldberg

Ulla Johnson

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

Brock

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

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, 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

Dauphinette

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 frocks 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

Duncan

Michelle Duncan is an Estée Lauder exec who balances her day job with her side hustle designing Duncan, a buzzy line for “the goth girl gone corporate” carried exclusively on Matchesfashion. For spring 2021, it seems Duncan is banking on a return to office, with a collection that focuses on her brand’s core silhouettes, figure-flattering and precisely tailored dresses, and separates with unexpected details, including grommets and beadwork to liven up the boardroom. And for those of us still working from home, one of her origami-pleated dresses with a sunburst embellishment at the V-neckline would also look pretty great from the waist up on Zoom. —Alison S. Cohn

Jason Wu

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


Source: HarpersBazaar.com