• Fashion East RTW Fall 2021 – WWD

    The lineup for this season’s Fashion East showcase included Maximilian Davis, Nensi Dojaka, Goom, newcomers Jawara Alleyne and accessories label HRH. The emerging designer support platform also released a joyful behind-the-scenes video documenting their socially distancing shooting process.

    Having launched his brand during the pandemic last season, Davis said the fall 2021 collection is “a continuation of Black elegance and explores my grandmother’s emigration from Trinidad to England in the 1960s,” with a focus on psychedelic prints and unisex tailoring.

    Dojaka is inspired by an exhibition with the works of Hilma af Klint at London’s Serpentine gallery years ago. “Those beautiful super fine feminine lines running through the huge canvases were a trigger for the first few drapes I did on the mannequin,” she said. Highlights include tulle corsets paired with tailored trousers and one of the light, flared dresses with the double bra details, which is is the first dress the designer draped for the collection.

    South Korean designer Goom Heo’s label this season centers around artist Philip Jackson’s horror-themed sculptures. “His work is enormous and made out of bronze. To me, his sculptures felt really cold & sharp and I wanted to reflect that mood in the collection. Also, the graphics and contrast color combination or texture of fabric were inspired by the 1920’s movie ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,’ in terms of shade and shadows moving around the body,” Goom said. A key look from the lineup is a black full-length hooded wool coat and the monochrome mohair pieces.

    Raised in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Alleyne is a 2020 graduate of Central Saint Martins MA Fashion. She presented her collection via a video of the fictional journey of a captain on her ship “The Renegade” as they go on to save the “Sun City.” Characters include the crew, who wear repurposed leather trousers with draped top wrapped around waist and white top, and the council, whose approach is a lot more sleek and chic. “The video crescendos with this meditation between aggression and joy. I love playing with juxtaposed emotions to ask the viewer to come to their own conclusion,” she said.

    HRH’s new accessories line is inspired by the designer’s love for “gymnastics and figure skating, sports teams and how their adornments unify them.” Key pieces include puffa silk and sheepskin and power mesh scrunchie thongs.

  • Marrknull RTW Fall 2021 – WWD

    Tim Shi and Wang Wei of Chinese fashion label Marrknull paid tribute to China’s martial arts culture in their fall 2021 collection video by suspending models in the middle of the air using wire, a technique for fight scenes made popular by Hong Kong action cinema. The collection continued to explore the evolution of clothing in different eras of China, from previous dynasties to contemporary China under Mao’s rule.

    The Look: The collection resembled a modern version of Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” where characters fly around in battle scenes. But in Marrknull’s world, they wear multi-functional clothing and carry mini bags as their fashion weapon.

    Quote of note: “We try to use colors and fabrics with a calm, slightly faded, and worn-out effect. And we are hoping to find a touch of nostalgia in the slightly magical time travel experience,” the duo said in a statement.

    Standout pieces: The last eight looks in the collection. Each gender fluid look is constructed with three different styles of top stitched to the waist, while sharing the same bottom half, so that one piece of clothing can be worn in three ways.

    The takeaway: Only someone who has binged on martial-arts films during lockdown can come up with something as interesting as this.

  • Palmer Harding RTW Fall 2021 – WWD

    This collection launch was a long time coming for Matthew Palmer and Levi Harding, who chose to debut a triptych this season, mixing in fall 2021 pieces with pre-fall and a see-now-buy-now spring 2021 range.

    This new format was a result of production delays due to the pandemic, as well as an attempt by the designers to create a healthier delivery cycle. But ultimately, this was the answer to a need they’ve had for years, to slow down, shift the focus to the creative process and fall back in love with design.

    It’s why they chose the emotion of love itself as their source of inspiration, over a more traditional artistic reference. They translated it loosely in the form of gathered pleats that symbolized the feeling of having a lump in your throat when you see the person you’re falling in love with; or the ruffles bursting from the seams of sleeves, in the same way a person in the early stages of falling in love is bursting with emotion.

    “So much product is made for commerce’s sake. We want to start with how we feel as people and how we want to express those feelings in clothing,” said Harding, adding that they plan to incorporate the story behind each garment on tags.

    Storytelling aside, the collection was filled with pieces that can transcend seasons, trends and even lifestyles, to provide women with the kind of wardrobe classics that are in demand right now. Pleats added a feminine flair to the label’s signature shirting and the duo also proved they have plenty more to offer beyond their popular shirts, by sprinkling ruffle-trimmed outerwear, chic column dresses and sleek tailoring into the range.

  • Molly Goddard RTW Fall 2021 – WWD

    Molly Goddard reined it in, shifting her attention from the usual XXL volumes to a more pared-down, but still fun, collection. Goddard’s statement tulle dresses still bounced their way across the show space – a little, theatre-like stage – but their voluminous shapes were tamed by mannish tailored jackets, Fair Isle sweater vests or long striped scarves.

    Coats with velvet collars and buttons, recalling posh school uniforms, were slim and elegant, as were Fifties taffeta party dresses with stiff bows placed randomly here and there. She even deflated her day dresses, which were still roomy, as in one pink plaid trapeze style, but not as extreme as in past seasons.

    Goddard brought men’s back to the runway, too, dressing them in long tartan kilts or frilly trousers, tailored jackets and Fair Isle sweaters with bright stripes. She also ran wild with color, layering a reddish Fair Isle sweater vest over a minty tulle dress; winding a long striped scarf around the neck of a baby blue coat; or turning taffeta dresses tangerine.

    It’s clear that Goddard is thinking much more commercially – and sustainably – than ever. Her knits and royal red tartans are made in Scotland and other parts of the U.K., while a lot of the production is done in London, often with her very own hands.

    She brought men’s back to the runway because she said it’s been selling well, and over the past few months she’s also added a bridal, custom-made services, digital trunk shows and e-commerce. She said during a Zoom interview that “the last year has forced us to get to know our direct customer” – and that’s never a bad thing.

  • Kallmeyer RTW Fall 2021 – WWD

    When designer Daniella Kallmeyer isn’t busy creating collections or spending time at her Lower East Side storefront, she enjoys spending time building furniture. For the fall collection, her passions fused into one.

    “I went down a deep dive of female architects and furniture makers,” Kallmeyer said during an appointment in her Orchard Street shop. “I was seeing pictures of these artists and got into — maybe it was also the moment that we were all having, this creative exploration with all this time at home — trying to figure out what famous artists looked like when they were in their height of creating.

    “Georgia O’Keeffe — when she was in the desert, what did she wear?” Kallmeyer questioned. These ideas, combined with those of traditional, formal uniform and a bit of a ranch/desert vibe all translated into a fresh collection that embodied the creative uniform. 

    The look: The modern creative uniform — a little bit of edge mixed with utility and refinement.

    Quote of note: ”’What do artists wear in their own space?’ stands out to me particularly,” Kallmeyer said. “When you’re working on a new collection, how does what you wear influence the work that you’re making?“

    Key looks: Sleek trousers and skirts comprised of deadstock vegan leather; an understated, sexy, black three-piece suit with vest designed more as a bodice (with longer front and cropped back); wool jackets (made from recycled wool fibers in Italy) with special, hand-stitched or fringe details (also rendered in a dickie and wrap skirt); shirred cotton dresses and tops.

    The takeaway: More than ever, the collection displays a robust wardrobe, offering strong, elevated versions of items you’d realistically want to wear every day.

  • Jonathan Simkhai RTW Fall 2021 Review – WWD

    Los Angeles designer Jonathan Simkhai leaned into handcraft this season, creating a custom lace cleverly inspired by Pop Art artist Keith Haring’s infinite maze paintings; working crochet fringe into suede; playing with Peruvian hand knits, made-in-Brooklyn sculptural gold chain hardware and more, to offer “some of the human interaction we’re all missing through clothes.”

    The look: Modern bohemian.

    Quote of note: “It’s a balance between a return to dressing for in-person events and clothes you can live in and wear day-to-day,” Simkhai said. “And more than ever, it’s about thinking about all the demographics — warmer climate, colder climate, you really need the whole world to come together to have a business right now.”

    Standout pieces: Chocolate suede and crochet fringe tunic; cream crepe dress with chain-link trimmed waist cutout and handkerchief hem; interesting knits, including a red crew neck sweater with collarbone cutouts, chunky mélange knit sweater with fringing on the sleeves, and a sheer cashmere sweater dress with bralette; white vegan leather and chiffon inset pleated column dress; blanket stripe poncho; fringed camel melton wool blazer; cream Haring-inspired maze lace dress.

    Takeaway: Focusing less on event dressing and more separates seemed to liberate Simhkai, and the handcrafted touches added warmth and a covetable tactility to his aesthetic.

  • Libertine RTW Fall 2021 – WWD

    Johnson Hartig continued to celebrate his brand’s 20th anniversary, a milestone it hit last year, by reflecting on what has made Libertine so popular over the past two decades and using that as the launching point for the 2021 version.

    The look: Intricate embellishments that are notable and also tell a story.

    Quote of note: “Our roots were based in making wearable paintings and assemblages from vintage clothes,” said Hartig. “I’ve turned back to that mind-set of resourcefulness and reinvention to develop these past two collections. The common threads that ran through the entire warp and waft of Libertine’s fabric: romanticism, horror, poetry, classical antiquities, nature and women’s 18th- and 19th-century handwork, to name just a few, feel very exciting to me again.”

    Standout pieces: The tailored suit for women, emblazoned with a black floral design on a taupe background, pushed the brand beyond just the brightly colored and eye-popping textures Libertine has become known for. That’s not to say the collection doesn’t feature the brand’s signature collaged art pieces, offered up this time in everything from dresses and short sets to floor-length coats.

    The takeaway: Hartig is still a master of creating wearable art for women and men not afraid of making a statement.

  • Duncan RTW Fall 2021 – WWD

    In lieu of holiday travel, Michelle Duncan spent time as a tourist in her own city. Having lived in New York for more than 10 years, the emerging designer had never visited the Statue of Liberty; she took advantage of the pandemic-driven, tourist-less city to explore Ellis Island, visit museums and stroll the streets. 

    “Accidentally, I got super inspired by all of that,” Duncan quipped over Zoom. “It’s a little ghost-towny here, but I’m going through all of these places thinking, ‘Even though it’s quiet, this is the greatest city in the world.’”

    Fall is Duncan’s love letter to New York; rooted in architectural lines, fine tailoring and a moody underbelly, with a hint of glam for nights back out on the town in the future. 

    The look: After-dark glamour rooted in Savile Row-inspired tailoring.

    Quote of note: “This collection is an ode to the city. In part, it’s because of the structural nature of everything I do. I really haven’t pivoted and am staying true to form in some ways. Also with the anticipation when this goes live in the fall, people are going to be out and about. We’re going to be going to drinks, and still probably doing some Zooms, so how do we transition from this beautiful moment,” Duncan expressed, pointing to her crisp white tuxedo shirt with embellished collar, “into going out?”

    Key looks: Tailored separates inspired by classic men’s wear, but fitted to accentuate the female form: an Italian gray overcoat, two new trousers (one wide-leg, high-waisted, the other cropped and with fishtail backs, a cropped blazer with signature bleeding heart embroidered decoration). The introduction of moody, deep black, velvet dresses for nights out — a dramatic, cupcake version or slinky body-hugging number with a sweetheart neckline and nipped waist. Updated pleated skirts and modest dresses zhuzhed up with metal grommets, elongated pleated collars and beaded embroideries.

    The takeaway: The tightly edited collection showed growth from the young designer, offering up the right amount of tailored separates and statement pieces alongside evolved signatures within her “goth girl gone corporate” aesthetic.

  • Adeam RTW Fall 2021 Review – WWD

    Japanese American designer Hanako Maeda has been been working in Tokyo through the pandemic, to be close to her production team, and came through 2020 better than expected, thanks to healthy business in Asia, the rollout of her global e-commerce site and a buzzy collaboration with superstar tennis player Naomi Osaka.

    For fall, she has more news: Adeam Ichi, her first gender-neutral, size-inclusive lineup inspired by the liberated style of Tokyo street fashion, which she unveiled together with the fall collection in a look book film featuring Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna.

    The look: Modern basics with a nod to traditional Japanese culture in their simple pattern shapes and natural colors, with crinkled pleating, ruffled trim and other craft details.

    Quote of note: “Because I grew up in New York, and went to college in New York, it feels like home, even though I was born in Tokyo and started my line there,” said Maeda, of wanting to be a part of New York Fashion Week even while working in Japan. “I am really glad the CFDA is now calling it the American Collections because it feels more inclusive. And from our customers, we have heard they really feel closer to this digital way of showing, because they see so much content from us and behind-the-scenes footage.”

    Standout pieces: Cape coat with leather piping detail; blouson hoodie jacket and wide-leg pants “suit”; deconstructed shirt dressing; green knit tank and split ankle flare pants over crisp white shirt; puff-sleeve men’s wear check blazer. From Ichi: boat neck tops; khaki pants; button tunic tops; windbreakers.

    The verdict: Less exuberant and playful than some of her past work, although this sportswear driven approach, including the Adeam Ichi capsule, could open up her brand to an even wider audience.

  • Ulla Johnson RTW Fall 2021 – WWD

    Ulla Johnson brought fashion back to Lincoln Center with her fall 2021 collection film, beautifully shot at the David H. Koch Theater with accompanying music by Juilliard students.

    “I’ve been coming here to see ballet since I was a child, so the ability to work in the space was a dream,” she said of the 1964 Phillip Johnson- and John Burgee-designed theater with gilded railings and velvet details that played well off of Johnson’s autumnal palette and metallic-flecked collection.

    “New York’s cultural institutions have been suffering, and this was the first event they have done there since March. There were all these union guys on set who hadn’t seen each other. It was heartwarming,” she added.

    Rather than leaning into comfort dressing, Johnson’s vision for fall was a dress-up delight, full of romantic and rich paisleys, animal kingdom and cosmic prints, Uzbek ikats and cable knits.  Flow-y tiered dresses and pleated gauchos, tidy puff-sleeve jackets and pencil skirts mixed the sultry bohemia of Seventies Paris with the power-shouldered defiance of Eighties Berlin, while acid-washed denim, glossy leather separates and earthy hiking boots made in collaboration with Dieme grounded the collection in the now.

    “I wanted to play with unbuttoning our perception of what a lady is,” Johnson said of twisting such feminine tropes as scarf-ties, Peter Pan collars, lace work and pleating. “I felt much more inspired to talk about the fantasy of putting ourselves together, while also having this undercut of ease, like on a fitted, almost New Look dress silhouette but made out of the softest printed corduroy.”

    Made-in-Kenya, handmade brass buttons, brooches and hair pins added another layer of charm, as did gorgeous knitwear, from a puff-sleeved gold foil pullover to an enveloping cream cable-knit sweater dress made in Brooklyn.

    “I’ve been trying to bring more traditional crafts back home,” said Johnson.

    On her approach to getting through the pandemic, she said, “We’ve been selling runway the whole time and have not pivoted to an at-home aesthetic. The fall collection is a bit of a rebellion against that actually. As opposed to in September when we weren’t sure, now the wheels are back in motion for the world to be back to life.”

    Let’s hope the curtain is back up soon.