March 6th, 2015
The fashion world left New York for Milan and now Paris (not that it really ever leaves) but we got a peek at some shows when bloggers, designers, and models were running amok for NYFW. Sasha Henriques covers the art institute show below:
In a show that was sentimental and touching in the best way possible, Art Institute students’ collections brilliantly showcased their strong personal aesthetics rather than catering to the trends of the season.
The excitement was definitely palpable in the Main Tent at Lincoln Center. The theater, which held about 400 people, was packed with students, parents, and administrators alike, and was furnished with a sleek white runway that wrapped around a middle row of seats.
Twelve students and alumni from various Art Institutes around the country competed and were chosen to present their six-look collections—and the designers’ aesthetics couldn’t be more different. From evening gowns to sporty menswear, motorcycle chic to “multi-media assemblages,” according to final K-pop-ragdoll-inspired designer Zong Peng, the show was incredibly dynamic.
The beginning of the runway presentation was more than just inspiring—the first designer’s first look was worn by a model who has spent the last three years recovering from a debilitating disease that left her paralyzed. The model, accompanied by the use of a walker, attempted to traverse the entire runway. The struggle was tangible, and by the end of her journey the audience stood and applauded wildly. And with that touching moment, the show began.
Jamaree Eimmanassakul of Vancouver presented womenswear that was highly structured; she dabbled only in black, white, and gray, but her clothing managed to remain feminine and totally wearable, even with her play on the men’s tuxedo. Her last look, a studded “matador” suit, was a stunner.
Romina Vairo of Pittsburgh had a collection that was perfect for the recent weather—her knits looked warm and soft, and she played with fluid draping and soft silhouettes. She experimented beautifully with new materials and textures in unconventional ways, such as the holographic plastic she featured in her fourth and fifth looks. A particular favorite was her knitted gray cocoon-style dress—honestly the most comfortable-looking knit I’ve seen in a while.
The runway presentation kicked it up a notch with Alexa Dibiaso, an alum of the Houston school. Her collection brought some much-needed edge—deep blacks and a play on soft and hard with leather, chiffon, and crocheted accessories. Her looks were particularly daring and fresh.
Jesus Romero of San Francisco showed the audience some Golden Age glamour with his flowing, evening-gown-inspired looks. His strongest look included silky black high-waisted palazzo pants paired with a white satin blouse with billowing sleeves and a long train—the epitome of sophistication.
The strongest collection was presented by Daniela Ramirez of San Francisco. Not only was it en pointe trend-wise, with her sleek use of harem pants and geometric silhouettes, but her color palette—soft nude, oxblood, and black—was wearable and contemporary.
The closing collection, presented by Zong Peng, was one of the most visually strikingly I’ve ever seen. Drawing inspiration from K-pop, primary colors, and the freedoms of childhood, Peng’s three-dimensional pieces were incredibly creative and super strange. I can’t say any of them were wearable in the least, but they certainly ended the show with a yarn-filled bang.
September 17th, 2014
Perhaps the best-known winning designer of the Project Runway set, Christian Siriano’s been a success since debuting his first collection at NYFW six years ago. Upon entering the Eyebeam Art+Technology Center, one of my personal favorite show venues, I saw a series of doorway-like frames in the center of the runway, setting the tone for the night’s emphasis on structure and layers. Every look was pretty and feminine, starting with clean whites and slowly blending into aqua blues and then navy blues.
Siriano shines brightest when it comes to eveningwear, and the Spring/Summer 2015 collection was no exception. I’ll say it now—expect Siriano on the red carpet for the next awards season, with decadent, beaded affairs and sleek, breezy gowns alike. One showstopper was a two-piece dress (a crop top and floor-length fringe skirt) that reminded me of Olivia Palermo’s wedding gown—glamorous but unconventional. All in all, the collection showed that as Siriano grows as a designer, his work is evolving, with more twists on the traditional and attention to detail.
By Jackie Luo
September 15th, 2014
For his Spring/Summer ’15 collection, “Dreams,” Ricardo Seco elegantly infused a mostly monochromatic palette with colorful accents and beaded patterns inspired by the Wixárika, an indigenous tribe in his home country of Mexico. These rainbow beads composed geometrical and natural motifs on everything from jackets to bags to stakeboards – even a custom guitar. Seco, usually a menswear-oriented designer, had an equal showing of womenswear, which felt naturally complementary to his men’s designs. Outside of beads, some trendy materials showed up, including plenty of neoprene – one standout piece was a boxy neoprene bomber shown in black and white, worn by both male and female models. Leather and perforated leather also made a strong appearance, composing loose-fitting black dresses, jackets, and pants. Other interesting pieces include a flower bead necklace and a geometric-print skirt with a red accent stripe around the waist. Seco’s collaboration with New Balance from previous seasons has continued, as well, producing sporty, flashy sneakers covered entirely in beads. The collection’s contrast of vibrant accents with an otherwise stark color range lent it a playful, casual air with a hint of adventure: through the liveliness of the Wixárika’s patterns, Seco has turned the severity of the black-and-white wardrobe on its head.
By Jack Wilding
Photos by Shriya Samavai
September 15th, 2014
When Madrid-based Maria ke Fisherman showed this season at The Standard High Line, it was clear that designers Victor Alonso and Maria Lemus had refined and updated their vision. The label previously known for its cyberpunk futuristic take on the 90s left behind its nostalgic lens, instead focusing on a more modern interpretation of streetwear. Cleansed of the bright colors of previous collections, this season’s palette was mainly restricted to black and white, resulting in a sleeker, modern vibe. A wide variety of textures from slouchy knits to shiny patent leather kept the collection diverse despite its minimal colors.
This season’s collection tells the story of “a girl living in a city of dangers who is rescued by the last free agent.” In post-apocalyptic, crime ridden city is Maria ke Fisherman’s innocent girl. In line with this vision, the models had intricately braided hair – a statement hairstyle that was very futuristic sci-fi princess à la Star Wars. For an innocent adolescent look, makeup consisted of a soft blush and light pink lip.
By Bethany Wong
September 15th, 2014
Á Moi is a young luxury brand, based in New York and created by designer Alejandra Alonso. Alonso is unproven, with just a background interning at brands like Nicholas K. and Anna Sui, but I had high hopes after seeing the aesthetic upon which the collection was based.
I arrived at the S/S 2015 presentation at the High Line Hotel, a classic, stylish venue with a large hall where the models were lined on white platforms. The beauty looks were slick and glamorous, with the brightness of a red lip to accentuate the laidback chic, and the girls carried old-fashioned badminton rackets that emphasized the sportiness of the line. Alonso’s inspiration was her home in Spain, with modern, updated looks that hailed back to her holidays in Biarritz. What I loved was the simplicity and comfort that encapsulated the collection, with outfits of loose silhouettes and crisp lines.
For me, Á Moi was far from groundbreaking, but Alonso joins the ranks of a new wave of young designers in New York City who bring the cool-girl uniform of minimalism and light hues.
By Jackie Luo
September 13th, 2014
Cynthia Rowley is certainly no stranger to the fashion industry, having been a designer for over thirty years. But something about her youthful style has managed to transcend the barriers of time, and even after thirty years, her clothes continue to remain fresh, trendy, and full of life.
The crowd, which included fashion editor extraordinaire Natalie Joos and musician/artist Sean Lennon, was positively buzzing before being let into the Swiss Institute, the gallery where Rowley’s collection was set to be presented. Poppy, Beach-Boys-esque music pumped from speakers as the crowd was ushered forth. Models stood on large white blocks as an animated version of the company flag flowed in the background. Rowley herself was present (wearing her own designs, of course, in the form of a white T, green neoprene trousers, and huge platforms) and answered interviewers’ questions with her characteristic enthusiasm and charm.
Rowley’s fabulously playful, colorful presentation had a strong ‘70s vibe, and included both ready-to-wear and activewear, which was an entirely new venture for Rowley, as she proudly described. Color choice was vibrant, to say the least. Blue and pink pastels dominated, but there was the occasional pop of bold orange (notably used for an absolutely stunning lace, sleeveless shift dress). But the collection also didn’t shy from using a sophisticated black, which seemed to make the looks even more universal. The use of black and gold was especially present in Rowley’s activewear looks.
Prints especially played a strong presence. Several pieces featured a print that resembled pink, white, and red clouds, and harkening to the flower-child inspiration for her collection, flower appliques were abundant. Rowley tended to stick to satiny fabrics with a soft sheen, but she also experimented with heavier fabrics like neoprene for her trousers and short dresses. Structuring was loose—the clothing rarely appeared tight and restrictive, but instead seemed to flow around the models in a way that made them seem more dolls than girls. Similar to that effect, all the models wore hair that was tight and sleek on top and pinned at the sides, but curled and teased below the pins, for a wild, girly effect. Makeup was minimal—a mostly nude lip dominated, and only black liner and mascara was used for eyes.
Besides the inclusion of activewear, Rowley also played around with accessories. Bold, round sunglasses, bags, golden horse riding helmets, and Birkenstock-style sandals all made appearances in the presentation. Perhaps the most fascinating inclusions, however, were Rowley’s wetsuits. She later explained that her daughters love to surf, and when faced with the decision to design wetsuits, she thought to herself, “Why not?” She continued, “When you think of beachwear for women, all you think is ‘sexy.’ With the wetsuits, it was like, ‘why do I have to look like another dude in the water?’ I wanted to design something that looked better….There are girls who thought they would never surf, and then they’re like, ‘Oh, cute wetsuit,’ and I’m like, ‘Try it on!’ And they’re like, ‘Damn, I gotta get in the water!’… The same way clothes make you feel good about yourself and confident, it’s the same with wetsuits and fitness. It’s motivational.”
Part of the brilliance of Rowley’s collection lies in its versatility—she manages to make clothing that a 20-year-old and a 50-year-old could wear to the same effect. There was a refined kind of childishness to her pieces, a timeless aspect that made you think you could dress sophisticatedly and still look young and playful. Similarly, Rowley was excited to explain that her activewear was multipurpose—functional enough to work out in, but trendy enough to pair with a trench coat and wear for a night out. As she enthused, “It’s the next frontier of fashion”—workout wear that you can wear out. Either way, Rowley’s clothes always seem to push the same message: that you can go out and do it, and the clothes shouldn’t restrict you, but should inspire you to go out in the first place.
By Sasha Henriques
September 12th, 2014
Karolyn Pho may be a newcomer to New York Fashion Week—this is her fifth season and only her sophomore runway endeavor—but this young designer has already established a strong sartorial voice, one of ethereality, comfort, whimsy, and above all, functional beauty.
Citing a traveling nomad as an inspiration for her collection, the presentation’s main theme was minimalism: Pho shied clear of complicated pieces of clothing, instead sticking to summery, flowing sundresses, crop tops and knee-length skirts, and the occasional trouser and trench coat. Shapes were undefined and often unstructured in a way that somehow still managed to capture movement as the models walked—especially thanks to Pho’s heavy use of floaty, sheer fabrics like chiffon. The color palette was kept simple: whites, nudes, and denim blues dominated, and the occasional pop of emerald brightened the runway. Perhaps the most creative use of color was Pho’s subtle layering of dark green sheer fabric over leopard print, which managed to look both youthful and sophisticated.
But despite the simplicity of the construction and the subtle color palette, there were moments of surprise in the presentation. Pho’s use of pearly pink sequins the size of quarters to garnish a pink gown, a sleeved cocktail dress, and the back of a boxy blouse were totally unexpected and almost whimsical.
As for makeup, models wore a nude lip and kept the eyes simple. A shimmery highlighter brightened their cheeks in a way that resembled scales shining underwater. Hair was teased at the crown and pinned back into a loose, wavy flow. As for accessories, all models wore nude socks and white clogs that were almost clinical-looking—backstage, Pho explained that she saw clogs as the natural progression of the current Birkenstock sandal trend. The most stand-out items on the runway by far, however, were Pho’s furry green and pink envelope clutches. They were at least 1’x2’—picture a puppet from Sesame Street and you get the same feel.
Overall, the vibe at Karolyn Pho’s show was pulsing—a sort of mythical simplicity seemed to radiate from all of her looks. Despite the high functionalism, even sportiness, of most of her looks, she didn’t shy from sexier elements. Side slits, cut-outs, and crop tops were all present, and a white sundress with gratuitous side-boob was made even more provocative with the addition of a few white ties to hold up the back. Pho seems to have found the sweet spot for young women looking to follow trends while still retaining a sense of comfort, functionality, and urban refinement.
Read on for an exclusive interview HOOT snagged with the designer post-show:
HOOT: First of all, congratulations on your collection! So you went with a very minimalistic theme, but you had these pops of whimsy—you had sequins, you had those fabulous furry clutches. What inspired those?
KP: To be honest with you, it was the theme from the color palette. It was south Floridian architecture from Mediterranean transitioning into art deco, so you get a lot of pastels, you get a lot of mixed and matched colors…. When you think of Miami Beach, you have this—I don’t know what you call her—an urban cowgirl. That was the inspiration for all of the accessories.
HOOT: What kind of woman do you see wearing your clothing?
KP: Women like me! I think it’s just about being a young professional and having fun with your clothes, but at the same time being sensible and wearing clothes that are easy and comfortable and functional, first and foremost. I mean, living in New York especially, you’re running around all the time, you’re doing a million things.
HOOT: You’re definitely incorporating those elements in your look today.
KP: Yes! I’m actually wearing one look, the first look!
HOOT: Do you have any pieces that are particular favorites?
KP: My favorite piece is this piece, the first look, and also the jumpsuits are fantastic. They’re so fun to wear. I wear mine all the time. And the sequin pieces, just because that’s something that I never envisioned myself doing ever, but it turned out beautifully and I’m really happy with it.
By Sasha Henriques
September 12th, 2014
For his twenty-fifth-year anniversary show, Zang Toi pulled out all the stops- shortstops, that is. The theme of Toi’s show was “A Privileged Life: The American Dream,” as demonstrated by his models clad in red and white stripes reminiscent of the early days of American baseball. Toi first started his show with sportswear, which was filled with slick black and white suits for the everyday working woman. As the last sportswear look filed off the runway, the lights dimmed and the room turned silent. Then, Lana Del Ray’s “National Anthem” began to play, the lights turned on, and Toi’s first gown was displayed in the middle of the runway. Everyone stood up to gaze at his purple and orchid printed gown and applauded for the brilliant garment he had created. Model after model strutted down the runway with orchid printed dresses and fresh orchids adorning her hair. For the final catwalk,Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America” infiltrated the room, creating a sense of communal patriotism and pride for our country that enables such creative minds as Zang Toi.
By Leora Herman
September 10th, 2014
A single spotlight illuminated the studio space at Gibney Dance as Vietnamese-born Long Tran’s show kicked off Sunday evening—but it was hardly the brightest light in the room. His latest collection, inspired by the multifaceted nature of holographic surfaces and aptly titled “HOLO,” featured both mens and women’s couture looks in fabrics ranging from shiny metallic to full-on LED. As far as classic gender roles and clothing go, the designer did not challenge the status quo (gowns for the ladies, suits for the guys), but chose instead to experiment with strong shapes and unconventional textures for the all-white frocks and to play with color conventions in the festive line-up of suits, drawing from a highlighter palette (chartreuse, lime green, hot pink) fit for the most daring of dudes.
Considering that Lady Gaga—queen of avant-garde footwear—is one of the designer’s biggest fans, it was no surprise that each ensemble featured a pair of highly sculptural, platform-boot hybrids that the models just managed to walk in. Long Tran’s designs demand that wearers exhibit total confidence in their eccentricity; it’d be tough to remain a wallflower while donning the night’s standout look, a gown that glowed rainbow hues like a Lite-Brite box. The collection felt a little like what people in the ‘80s might have imagined the future of fashion to look like, all space-age fabrics and neon; when observed through a different lens, though, HOLO reflects an age of tech overload, in which our smart phones’ glow often precedes the morning sun’s.
By Olivia Aylmer
Photos by Bethany Wong
September 10th, 2014
Lie Sang Bong, also known as the “Korean Alexander McQueen,” centered his Spring/Summer ’15 collection around the fleeting but ephemeral figure of the butterfly. The show at this year’s New York Fashion Week opened with an electric tie-dye of butterfly motif and the basics: white dresses that were slowly layered with colors and patterns, bringing to mind tropical gardens and vivid wings. The music it was paired with was dreamy and upbeat, and the models’ hair was put back into slick ponytails so as not to interfere with the master’s designs. These were beautifully crafted — a visible contract made between strength and soft movement with patterns that ranged from simple to elaborate. We saw print dresses, polka-dot pants, flowy skirts and lots of blues, pinks and whites. A design that stood for the whole collection was a white collared dress paired with a butterfly bustier. Hello, spring!
By Victoria Campa
September 9th, 2014
I really wanted to like the Amir Taghi Spring/Summer ’15 collection. I made it all the way down to Chelsea on a Saturday morning to see the show in unseasonably hot September weather. The show was not well attended, and after asking many who did attend to stand for half an hour after the runway should have started – the folks working the event quickly shuffled everyone into the many open seats.
There were some beautiful details to this collection. Lace and carefully placed sequins. A tasteful gold belt saved what might have otherwise looked like a figure skating outfit. Careful tailoring, and trim decorated simple separates.
There are times when simple can come across as classic. Unfortunately, this collection felt heavy on right off the rack ready to wear looks. A magenta pink suit looked like my mom might have bought it at Salvation Army in the 1980’s to wear at one of her underpaid office jobs. And while we all want to look youthful, when does clothing go from hip to junior? When will the crop top run its revolution around the sun and die a peaceful death as it once not so quietly did in the 1990s?
The crowd seemed to be tired and unimpressed by the end. Even the grab bags were a sad collection of – and I shit you not – three Arizona Iced Tea tall boys.
By Patrice Helmar