Trend-forecasting season is upon us now that New York Fashion Week’s run of fall and winter 2020 runway collection shows is firmly in the rear-view mirror. The season kicked off, unofficially, Feb. 4 with an M Missoni takeover of Pink’s Hot Dogs in L.A. and ended in the Big Apple on Wednesday night with Marc Jacobs at the Park Avenue Armory.
With the caveat that other major fashion weeks on the circuit have yet to be factored in (the focus now shifts east to London followed by Milan and then Paris), stores — and, if designers are lucky, the streets — will be filled with some combination of the following trends that might shape what you’ll wear later this year.
Although volume has been pumping up by way of flared legs, widening skirts and lengthening trains for several seasons now (and was very much in evidence this fashion week), this season’s emphasis on the cape silhouette gave the trend a fresh and focus-pulling twist.
Standouts here included Proenza Schouler, where fabric either flapped delicately like partially folded angel wings from the shoulder blades of leather dresses or buttoned diagonally and cocoon-like over one shoulder, and Michael Kors Collection, where dramatic capes — some with hoods, others with leather closures that bucked at the clavicle — were served up in cozy wool or cashgora and in colors that ranged from black and gray to eye-catching orange.
The season’s big color story was that there was lots and lots of it; vivid, vibrant, cacophonous color; teals and turquoises, cavorting with electric blues, fire reds and fuchsia pinks, all but overshadowing the traditional muted autumnal palette. Shades of orange provided a chromatic through-line though, seeming to pop up in collection after collection. (Before the week of shows got under way, the color-forecasting folks at Pantone cited a radiant shade of orange called “Afterglow” as one of the season’s color trends, though the hues that came across the catwalk ranged from muted to nearly neon.)
In addition to the aforementioned Michael Kors Collection cape, the color cropped up at Jonathan Simkhai in fringed handkerchief dresses and on the collar and cuffs of sherpa jackets; at Sies Marjan in jumpsuits and chunky turtleneck sweaters; and at Carolina Herrera, where designer Wes Gordon’s exuberantly colorful collection included a cheery shade of clementine orange that stood out both on its own — by way of ruffle-tiered mini dresses — and when paired with cornflower blue in a floral jacquard multi-tiered ruffle gown.
Floral super bloom
In addition to an assortment of floral jacquards, Gordon’s collection included floral cut-out embroidery (on button-front shirts and wool coats) and floral beading (on blouses and gowns), which put him squarely on-trend with the floral motifs that bloomed so noticeably on the runways here during this run of shows.
Others memorably poppin’ blossoms included Rodarte, where they were rendered both small (printed roses on a range of pieces) and large (hand-painted on silk dresses); Libertine, where floral appliques festooned skirts and jackets; and Tory Burch, in a collaboration with artist Francesca DiMattio inspired by porcelain patterns, scattered flowers across cotton jacquard jackets and pants, silk twill tops, shearling jackets and over-the-knee boots.
Designer Lela Rose took the season’s fascination with florals to the street — literally — by transforming a Greenwich Village storefront into a pop-up flower shop to showcase her collection inspired by the Chelsea flower markets.
Outside, the facade was completely covered in colorful flower blossoms. Inside the clothes were too; crepe dresses and trousers bore allover botanical prints, a white sheath dress was embroidered with a single camellia and delphinium vine embroidery climbed along dresses and trousers. Although she couldn’t speak to the reason for the larger florals-in-winter trend, the designer’s personal motivation was a simple one. “Flowers,” said the aptly named Rose, “just make me happy.”
New York nostalgia
Two of the week’s most memorable runway shows pulled inspiration from the city of New York itself. One was Prabal Gurung’s, which unspooled in the Rainbow Room on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center, accompanied by pianist Colin Huggins whom the designer had found performing in Washington Square Park.
“The fall 2020 collection revels in an exuberant show of eclectic glamour, paying homage to New York’s creative visionaries,” Gurung wrote in the post-show notes. On the runway that translated as Gurung’s most glamorous offerings yet, an emphasis on luxe eveningwear included tuxedo-inspired suits, satin dresses with crystal-embroidered side cutouts, one-shouldered satin column gowns accented with plumes of feathers and black velvet bustier dresses.
The other designer to name-check New York this season was Marc Jacobs, who wrote in his show notes: “Referencing my own life and career thus far, it is the fading picture of a disappearing New York that prevails — now foreign and exotic in its extinction, forever mythical and chic with its beauty, promise, sparkle and grit.”
To help translate his tale of the city, Jacobs transformed a tiny part of the cavernous Park Avenue Armory into something that felt like an intimate cafe with guests clustered three and four to a table and he enlisted choreographer Karole Armitage and a troupe of dancers to bend, leap, jump and gyrate around and among the models throughout the show.
The collection, which had a restrained, almost-melancholic feel to it, found the beauty in simple silhouettes: a pastel pink car coat over a matching day dress, for example, or a leopard-print jacket thrown over underwear. Double-breasted suits and suit dresses flared subtly at the hips, and Peter Pan collars peeked from beneath sweaters and dresses. Also, old-school cardigans were layered over bra tops and paired with silvery floral skirts.
The most extravagant of the eveningwear offerings — silver evening dresses bursting with roses, sparkling emerald off-the-shoulder gowns and empire-waist gowns in pastel pink or blue — were dialed back.
The result was a collection so stunningly beautiful, from start to finish, that we didn’t notice that one of the models walking in the show was none other than singer Miley Cyrus. (That’s focus-pulling fashion at its finest.)
At the same time as sustainability in fashion was emerging as the takeaway trend on this year’s Academy Awards red carpet on one coast, it was shaping up to be one of the top trends of the week on the other.
At Jonathan Cohen, fabric scraps were up-cycled into scarves. Italian cashmere was recycled into knitwear. And chunky Dr. Martens footwear sparkled with thousands of up-cycled crystals courtesy of Swarokvski.
At Sies Marjan, a collaboration with Dutch textile artist Claudy Jongstra resulted in sustainable wool, mulberry silk and silk chiffon made with biodynamic dyes while another partnership — with visual artist Diana Scherer — turned plant root systems into custom textiles for the runway collection.
Designer Gabriela Hearst made sustainability the centerpiece — literally and figuratively — of her runway show. Presented against the backdrop of shredded bales of paper (borrowed from a recycling center in Brooklyn) her fall and winter 2020 “Repurpose With Purpose” collection was themed around the reuse of exiting textiles and materials. That meant outerwear pieces cobbled together from remnants of antique Turkish kilim rugs, dresses hand-knit from recycled cashmere yarn and color-blocked cashmere coats made from previous seasons’ pieces taken apart and spliced back together.
There were two things about Hearst’s show that provide a glimmer of hope for a more sustainable fashion future. The first is the fact that the collection — from start to finish — was as beautiful, wearable and covetable as it was thoughtful about its impact on the the environment. (In case you were wondering, the fashion show’s carbon footprint was being measured, and will be offset for the benefit of the Cardamom Forestry Project.)
The second was that, after the show had finished, attendees could be seen enthusiastically taking pictures of themselves (and others) in front of the bales of shredded paper.
No, we’re not naive enough to think that a recycling-on-the-runway New York Fashion Week selfie or two (or 100 or 200) is enough to solve the fashion industry’s sustainability challenges. However, it’s hard to imagine a better way, in the age of social media, to get the issue front and center.