From Collina Strada and Vaquera, to Theophilio and Tom Ford – these are the shows you won’t want to miss from the SS22 edition of NYFW
Bags of complimentary popcorn, important-looking portable chargers, and prosecco breath. Following a drawn-out, pandemic-induced hiatus, real life fashion month has finally returned. Though this season technically kicked off in June with menswear, the proverbial whiplash of the industry’s calendar has yanked SS22 back into focus, with New York now playing host to the first set of womenswear runways since lockdown laws were lifted.
Yes, it’s been 84 years since actual people were invited to attend shows and fashion folk will recount the ways in which they have been deprived – starved of the swishy flow of a garment as it ricochets down a catwalk, how fabric just refracts the light differently in-person, and the “aura” of a collection. But also freebie bags, paid-for dinners, and securing candid street style photos for Instagram.
The Big Apple is, accordingly, making up for lost time. The city has lured old-timers Thom Browne, Moschino, and Tom Ford back onto home territory from their adoptive European capitals, whilst giving fledgling designers like LaQuan Smith the keys to the Empire State Building. Then there’s Collina Strada, Telfar, Luar, and Theophilio, who are all bringing life to the line-up. With that in mind, here’s our rolling round-up of everything going down at this week’s shows.
As the inaugural show of the fashion season began, we found ourselves suspended hundreds of feet in the air, overlooking the New York skyline from one of Brooklyn's rooftop farms. Where AW21 gave us digitised, mutant animorphs, SS22 brought the chaos of the natural world into living, breathing form. Models of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and abilities came in two-by-two, strapped into horse head and beetle corsets – as if they were gallivanting onto a raucous Noah’s ark. Flouncy, clashing prints were layered over asymmetric, hand-beaded bodysuits, while floaty dresses swelled at the hips like 18th century panniers. The sun continued to set as a remixed version of “Happy” boomed overhead. Saccharine, but it seemed fitting. With Tommy Dorfman, Kim Petras, and Hari Nef sat front row, models ran, danced, and skipped into the light – making Collina Strada a joyous, accidentally symbolic opening to the coming month.
Despite having founded her label less than a year ago, Parsons grad Sintra Martins has fast made a name for herself off the backs of fans including Olivia Rodrigo, Azealia Banks, and Kim Petras. Despite – or maybe because of – all its posturing, fashion just isn’t frivolous enough for Sintra, which is why the designer set her NYFW debut in the belly of “a technicolor hyperpop dystopia”, AKA jungle-themed nightclub, The Stranger. Painted with egg-like splatters of make-up, models weaved their way in between animatronic elephants, pop-art Grecian busts, and jarring, flashing scoreboards. From sheer pink gowns festooned with tiny bows and sultry string dresses punctured with multicoloured marabou feathers, to mini crini-indebted, pleated skirts exploding with tulle, Saint Sintra tumbled down a tangfastic rabbit hole of feminine frills. Yet all this extravagance does not come at the expense of actual ethics – Sintra only works with mills and factories that push for sustainable production lines, and all garments come with unlimited alterations and repairs as part of the brand’s bespoke service.
MARYAM NASSIR ZADEH
Street style photographers lined the entire block leading up to Zadeh’s show – more so than at any other show so far. Downtown denizens mixed with stylists and fans of the brand and meandered in and out of the hybrid outdoor-indoor venue, plucking the complimentary ruffled scrunchie from their seats and onto their wrists, almost instantaneously. That’s the magic of MNZ – her small stylistic touches are what make the brand a regular NYFW highlight for many. The brand opened up the doors of its former Lower East Side store this season, as a cast of diverse models including Paloma Elsesser marched up the sidewalk and through the doors wearing a mish-mash of slouchy pants, leather shorts, and bikini tops under baggy button-downs. To top it all off, glass rings and charms were delicately strung on leather belts. Raw-edged and hems dominated alongside minimal clean lines, with transparent chiffon bags making their debut. As the show went on it drew even more of a crowd, as passersby stopped in their tracks to watch the show and take it all in – some wondering aloud what was going on, others snapping iPhone pics and cheering on the models. By taking inspiration from old and new loves, and authenticity, according to the show notes, MNZ mixed her classic silhouettes with new approaches to layering. A jazz band – dressed in vests and oversized suits played throughout the show – played throughout, before Ian Isaiah made an appearance to close out proceedings.
There’s been a lot of talk about Little Island among New Yorkers. Many have strong opinions on the peg-shaped islet which juts out of the Hudson River Park, yet very few have actually been. Proenza Schouler took us there, though, deep in the pit of the park’s amphitheatre with (yet another) sun-tinged view. Only, once models began to saunter down the runway, converging into crisscross patterns, it was clear that this was no longer New York, but perhaps a White Lotus-style get away. Tropical yellow dresses with lacquered beading at the sleeves billowed in the breeze, while a sweep of acidic, urbane kaftans spoke to an all-inclusive escape. Scarlet red gowns had been shredded at the hip – in fact, tassels were tacked onto just about everything here – following a rosary of Hawaiian leis, which came strung across collar bones. If fashion was a sport, this would have been the biggest game of the season, because the venue was packed with the design duo’s die-hard supporters. The label’s captains Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez then sealed their match with a kiss – a move which had a touch-deprived audience audibly cooing.
Continuing the theme of outdoor venues, Peter Do took us on a journey to an abandoned drive-in theatre, with stiff, metal benches multiplying as far as the eye could see. As guests took their seats under the baking hot sun, a glistening river view served as backdrop for the designers’ landmark, debut show. This Brooklyn venue was a purposeful one, as Do wrote in the show notes, given that the collection was a tribute to “water” and “fluidity” via his work, his family, and his immigrant roots. Models paced the runway in crystal-festooned white suits, floral embroidered coats, and crisp white shirts that seemed to hang off the shoulders by a couple of threads. As per his tutelage under Phoebe Philo, silhouettes came oversized, in swooping, unexpected layers while tresses of gauzy linens distended from tomboyish tailoring, which had been cut like a knife. The Do girl doesn't just attend galleries, howeever, she wants to be the artwork. Enormous, saddle-style bags brushed hips in deep and supple leathers, marking the first ever time the brand has forayed into handbags. The show closed with a feeling of unity and a swell of celebration as models took their final lap around the abandoned lot, followed by the entire Peter Do team.
Five shirtless men walk through an underground barbershop to the looming chords of a Roman Catholic organ. It’s just, they seem to have been shrunken, the tops of their bodies turtle-heading above Willy Chavarria’s overblown, couture-like, box-pleated chinos, which sweep the floor like robes. Shiny pink and chartreuse satin boxers have been pulled up to the ribcage as if to mimic the ornate sash-belts of the clergy – though, as the music switches, it’s clear that this is to comedic effect. Soon come red-piped biker jackets, boxy shirts with severe, hood-like camp collars, satin bombers, and turqoise organza blouses. The designer, who spent the pandemic evading travel bans to “consult” on Kanye West’s Yeezy Gap collaboration (many have accredited the round puffer jacket to Chavarria) is also the creative director of Calvin Klein. Yet despite these commercial accolades, Chavarria’s work takes closer cues from anti-fashion designers like Martine Rose in the way both extrapolate from and twist subcultural archetypes: cowboy belts cinch sturdy-looking pinstripe shirts into enormous, pooling jeans, giving way to clumsy square-toed leather slip-ons. It subverts everyday masculinity without “queering” menswear – aided, of course, by a motley crew of awkward, street cast models.
Batsheva don’t just do fashion shows. Across the course of the last few seasons, the rising label took attendees (diners?) on a culinary trail around some of New York’s most iconic eateries – but this season’s venue of choice was perhaps the most iconic of all. Taking place at old school sweet spot Serendipity 3, fans wearing the label’s signature frilled prairie dresses and supersized collars lined the sidewalk, chowing down on French fries, champagne, and the restaurant’s legendary frozen hot chocolates, which had been shrunk down to fashion week proportions for the occasion. Things kicked off with a bang as a speakers blasted a string of poetry and models including Busy Philips and Sophia Anne Caruso trailed through the space under eccentric Tiffany lampshades and kitschy unicorn posters. For SS22, the label offered up empire line dresses with XXL flouncy ruffles, soft pastel granny cardigans, and glittering, floor-sweeping gowns with pumped-up puff sleeves, that looked like they could have been dug out of a kid’s dressing-up box or a school theatre department (in the very best way possible, obvs). The only thing more OTT than the frills that punctuated the collection was the hair – all towering beehives, intricate bulbs, and braids. Between that and the thick, black eyeliner the models also sported, next season Batsheva is rewinding the clock back to the swinging 60s. And let’s face it: anything’s got to be better than 2021, am I right?
For reasons we don’t need to spell out to you, this season’s biggest trend might just be outdoor shows – and with that in mind, thank god we’re facing spring/summer as opposed to autumn winter. After sending editors cute care packages full of NY mementos, Coach took us down to Hudson River Park’s Pier 76 where we were treated to yet another gorgeous view of the city’s skyline. What followed was a tribute to New York – a love letter to its spirit and resilience and all the things that make it great. That meant fun, elevated tourist tees, logo-emblazoned baseball caps, and a whole lot of denim, mish-mashed with louche suits, sporty underwear-as-outerwear, grungy plaid skirts, and a whole lot of houndstooth and pearls – think Upper East Sider meets downtown cool kid and you’ve pretty much got the idea. Further inspo came by way of Bonnie Cashin era Coach – who, in case you’re not familiar, was the great American designer who made Coach a household name.
Over the course of New York Fashion Week’s two-season hiatus, Eckhaus Latta staged an easygoing, sparsely-attended show under a Manhattan bridge, then took things completely online for AW21, with an unofficial appearance at Paris Fashion Week, via a dimly lit warehouse space somewhere deep in Bushwick. Now, though, the label helmed by Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta has returned in full force (albeit, still outdoors) for its 20th runway show. In the spirit of newfound freedom — and the pent up horniness of the last year and a half — its SS22 collection is suggestively littered with cut-outs, see-through materials, and press-stud seams that allow the wearer to rework pieces on the fly. A dress with a fully-removable front panel and knitted, teeny-tiny shorts only add to the hedonistic vibe, giving an inkling (fingers crossed) of what the near future has in store. And who better to provide the euphoric soundtrack than A.G. Cook, who DJed live while Dev Hynes, Rosalía, and Caroline Polachek looked on from the front row? Watch here, and take a closer look in the gallery below.
Watching a Thom Browne show is as much a challenge in perception as it is a showcase of craftsmanship. As giant, amorphous creations squeeze their way down the runway, clothes tend to cross over into concept and vice versa – i.e. “what is that” as well as “what does it mean”. This season, full body, shrub-like capes had been swathed in hand-made flowers while suit arms came sewn to the torso or were otherwise made to disappear. If Browne’s Esher-like approach to fashion was ever overshadowed by his sensible red carpet suits, school boy shorts, and bulky brogues, then SS22 sought to unify the two – see multi-layered skirt suits, asymmetric sacs, and pinstriped cloaks. The standout pieces, however, included a coterie of trompe l'oeil slips, which mimicked the carved bodies and drapery of the Greek statues found in the Met. Only, rather than being painted, Browne’s corporeal illusion came from layers upon layers of tulle. The designer’s partner, Andrew Bolton, is the Met’s chief curator, and will head this evening’s (September 13) all-American gala – hence Browne’s one-season-only return to New York.
PUPPETS AND PUPPETS
Emmental, Jarlsberg, Radamer – this season, Puppets and Puppets models trundled down the catwalk with vectors of Swiss cheese balanced atop of their heads while saucers were tacked onto breasts and bags came embellished with entire loaves of bread. Offbeat, surreal, scrumptious. That being said, this collection felt less arts-and-crafts than designer Carly Mark’s previous outings. Booby trompe l'oeil knits, hooped skirt-dresses, and comically elongated sleeves somehow felt sophisticated – even if tinsel had been used in place of necklaces. If not already obvious, this was a consciously kooky collection, punctuated with moments of genuine wit. Bric-a-brac styling housed lace dresses over lycra sports tops while one-shoulder swimsuits were stretched over office-ready shirts. It would seem SS22 was all about these clashes, which Marks neatly articulated in a slew of cut-and-paste constructions: pastoral milk-maiden corsets became frumpy brocade skirts while plaid puff-sleeves had been sewn onto fruit printed bralettes (worthy of any kitchen tea-towel).
Despite a back catalogue full of racy LBDs and slick, formal tailoring, Tom Ford doesn’t really get along with the colour black. “It doesn’t photograph well,” he bemoaned back in 2015 when he first launched an ecom platform, and he repeated the fact this weekend – sending out a score of brightly coloured, glittered creations for SS22. Returning to New York after an elongated LA sojourn, this season manages to merge Ford’s pumped-up evening wear with Californian athleisure staples. Low slung, elasticated bottoms were brushed with flecks of golden sparkles or put through hyperactive shades of satin – magenta, apple green, and candied blues. As the designer told the press backstage, the collection had been inspired by his son’s penchant for basketball silks, and a slower pace of life post-corona. The overall impact, however, was reminiscent of the glitter-festooned baseball tops of Ford’s AW14 collection, which later costumed Beyoncé’s “Mrs. Carter” world tour. Even the designer’s suiting – which is characteristically restrained – practically begged for attention in leopard print lamé. But thanks to social media, and our daily screen-to-screen carousel, black, it would seem, may no longer cut it. “Black doesn’t photograph well and so clothes need to be increasingly cartoon-like to have power on the tiny screens of our phones.” Was this Tom Ford’s first foray into TikTokouture?
One of the lesser known – though no less impactful – designers in American history was Claire McCardell. Working around 75 years ago during the war, McCardell was best known for her enterprising use of rationed fabrics, creating practical solutions to the changing ways in which contemporary women lived, and therefore dressed. While spearheading hook-and-eye closures, she was best known for a $6.95 wrap-around dress, otherwise known as the “pop-over” – an iconic creation which became synonymous with the New Woman. The same simplicity and comfort prioritised by the late designer was reimagined by Tory Burch this week, as she sent out a sweep of nipped-in cotton dresses, full-bodied skirts, and liberally draped, jersey cross-over tops. Having just launched the McCardell Fashion Fellowship at the Maryland Center for History and Culture, Burch spoke of the way in which her collection was indebted to the “unencumbered” feeling of McCardell’s designs – reflected back across flat shoes and hook-and-eye plunge dresses, before taking a bow in an archival McCardell piece herself.