Alright, having briefly looked through the major trends of the latest NYFW season, we’re moving on to the most interesting part. An overview of the collections, which have just hit the ring, IMHO. The performance of the designers we’re going to discuss below was fresh, unexpected, and really authentic, what else can be valued more now?
Jason Wu is a real wizard. Having started off as a Narciso Rodriguez intern, Wu made it to his own practice. The designer has been running his eponymous label since 2006, parallely serving as artistic director of Hugo Boss women’s wear for nearly five years. Meanwhile they went their separate ways with Hugo Boss, Jason Wu’s pet project has proved to be a successful endeavor. Wu is capable of creating garments of sophisticated design and high quality, without neglecting any of the components. His Fall/Winter 2021 collection is a perfect hymn to convenience and impeccable taste.
It feels like we’re watching a CCTV of a supermarket. In the middle of the floor there are crates of fresh fruits and veggies, a sign on the wooden box playfully suggests to share a coke with Jason Wu. Who’s coming? Oh, the fashion show has just begun. Wu’s models confidently navigate through the deli counter, featuring apparels of a discrete color palette interspersed with vibrant strokes. The shades of khaki, cold sand, black or blueberry form the basis, while banana yellow and pink icing are just thrown on top. Actually, the basic element can be intense as well, but here again we need a counter balance, something like a raspberry cape put over a rose sundress.
Patterns? Of course, there might be some, filling in the gaps rather than creating a new picture. Repetitive geometric patterns of an irregular shape grace Jason Wu FW 2021 lightweight-fabric blouses and dresses, resonated with some monolith jewelry: e.g. in the form of a padlock. Surely, the new collection by the brand suggests ready-to-wear solutions for those preferring either smart casual or business casual dress code: symmetrical cutting and explicit silhouettes are combined with some rather mischievous calls like tassels of fringe, swaying belts, and jumpers loosely tucked in the pants.
It’s the fashion designer Hanako Maeda, a fragile-looking girl in her early thirties, who stands behind the New York-Tokyo brand ADEAM. Having graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Art History in hand, Maeda returned to her home Tokyo to join the family fashion house. In 2012 the designer decided to launch her own label ADEAM: the brand is soon turning a decade, meanwhile Hanako Maeda herself has done a great job ever since. In her clothes lines the designer fuses Western and Eastern aesthetics, paying special attention to the quality of garments: e.g. by using traditional Japanese techniques, structured tailoring etc. Easy to clean and highly wearable, ADEAM collections also stand out owing to their feminine silhouettes.
A smooth live song anticipating the ADEAM FW 2021 fashion show sets the right mood. ‘Right’ in the sense of romantic, at ease, not without the reason there is a recurring line in the lyrics: ‘Dance like nobody’s watching’. The color palette builds upon the shades of light blue, lace purple, pale rose; though there is room for some brighter colors like burgundy and deep blue, they hardly take precedence in the collection. ADEAM FW 2021 perfectly demonstrates all types of the shaped sleeves: leg o’mutton, bishop, lantern, bell, and Juliette sleeves have been put on the display. A short loose bomber jacket put over an elongated shirt smells of tenderness as well as the flared pants and pleated dresses. Ruffles on the cuffs and in the elbow area, off-the-shoulder sleeves, and head scarfs just add authenticity to the looks.
However, Hanako Maeda avoids making her collection look too definitive. The second part of the show ADEAM Ichi confounds us by the sudden alteration of the course: the sound gets more upbeat, both male and female models enter the catwalk. Overall, ADEAM Ichi goes unisex: most looks featured one can easily imagine on men as well as women. Jackets and oversized pullovers with extra sleeves and a transforming hood, lowered shoulder line, pocketed cargo pants, chain necklace or, otherwise, tab shirt collars — today she can look what she wants, gracefully switching from sport chic to highly feminine fashion.
‘I am a political designer! I use fashion to address social issues around the world and create proactive, political fashion,’ Chelsea Grays proudly says in her statement. Working and living between Paris and the US, the aspiring Ohio-born designer actively takes part in fashion weeks as well as professional awards. Her participation in New York Fashion Week this time hasn’t been a debut (she had a successful student showcase at NYFW two years ago), but still a very outstanding performance. A whole story of struggle, despair, and hope placed into 7,5 minutes with a row of fantastic looks from the latest collection and a clear message: paying tribute to 2020. Funny that last autumn, when we did a Q&A with Chelsea on her designing practice during the pandemic, she might have been in the midst of preparation for NYFW… Alright, and now meet Chelsea Grays’ political expression, that is, her FW 2021 collection.
‘Sometimes I feel good in my chest, but I
I can never get that to my head,’
On hearing the first chords of the soulful lyrics by Reggae Helms, one starts immersing into the story. In front of the camera there are some men sitting, both persons of color and white skinned ones, all of them young, thirty something. Each of the models looks closely at the camera and walks away, one at a time. In the next episode we see them roaming the streets, aimlessly, desperately, one by one. Where are those young men going? Why don’t they work, spend time with their loved ones, do something they might make them feel needed and alive? Afterall, why can’t they just feel happy?
‘I need what they give you at the dentist
I don’t wanna feel no more’.
Chelsea Grays admits for her collections she draws inspiration from the figure of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and the way homeless people are dressed. The latter she sees not only as whimsical, but also inventive. Since Basquiat was a drifter from the art world, who brought street spirit and some particular elements of street culture to arts, everything seems to be overlapped. ‘Homage to 2020’ collection features a very special kind of street casual, which, contrary to common beliefs, is far from the worn-out RTW concepts like faux leather jackets, white T-shirts, and tight jeans. In Chelsea Grays’ version, it’s kilts with noodle turtlenecks, ripped jackets, and paint stained trousers like if one has just left an artist’s studio. The designer graces the vagrant looks with cosy wraps, cowls, mittens, and patches (the latter has already become her signature gesture). Chelsea Gray’s FW 2021 collection is nothing, but a good example of an outside-the-box thinking, which is in great demand today. In fashion, in politics, just everywhere.
Sunny greetings from Cameroon, or rather, from the Cameroon-born fashion designer Miss Claude Kameni. Having relocated to the US at the age of 8, Kameni came across a fashion class in high school, which jump-started her future career. The self-taught designer launched her label in 2012, calling it Lavie, which means ‘life’ in French. Well, for Claude fashion has truly been her life for a long time. Today Claude Kameni is 26 years old, she is an acknowledged master of African Print, and her LA-based brand keeps flourishing. Actress Tracey Ellis Ross and singer Janet Jackson have opted for Lavie by CK custom designs, while Kameni showcased her collection for the first time in the last season of NYFW, which ran last autumn.
When Claude Kameni virtually debuted with her RTW Spring/Summer 2021 show at NYFW in September, she told it was the ‘Coming to America’ movie that had inspired her to create the line. Alright, the ‘The Royal Empire Collection’ presented this time has turned out to be a sequel to the story. Now it’s even more exciting because the second part of the legendary comedy film is set for a digital release in the beginning of March. It’s also interesting that the A/W 2021 Collection by Lavie by CK was modeled by some notable African fashion influencers. Among them were Nyakim Gatwech aka Queen of the dark and Achieng Agutu aka Confidence Queen (the both models advocate freedom of prejudice and happy-to-be-yourself approach), and also Sir Chidi, a style, fitness, and travel guru. The influencers shared the roles of Queens, Queens Hands, and Male Servants in the video presentation.
Designer Claude Kameni calls her latest project ‘a world where African print meets couture’. And one can’t say fairer than that. On the one hand, ‘The Royal Empire’ collection is a luxury line. Dress ensembles with mermaid tails, majestic gigot sleeves, and enticing cut-outs just take one’s breath away. Even a relatively simple patterned mini-sundress lets the viewer’s imagination run wild. On the other hand, one doesn’t have to dig deep to sense that the collection is laced with love for the local traditions. Sophisticated geometric ornaments on fabrics (for those not privy to the African cultural context, rather reminding of cubists’ paintings or Harlequin prints), gorgeous golden-colored wrist and neck decorations, one-shoulder wraps, and hand-crafted beaded tops look anything, but not habitual. That is not to mention the zealous color palette of the collection: juicy grass-green, hypnotic violet, and vigorous shades of orange and red have manifestly run the show. Well, Lavie by CK, ‘The Royal Empire’ showcase was extraordinary (and so hot that we’d like to cool down now a bit).
Founded by Mark Kim and Rwang Pam three years ago, the LA-based brand Onyrmrk (actually pronounced ‘On your mark’) represents collection-based men’s ready-to-wear or the entire philosophy of new masculinity. Perhaps, masculinity is not really the right word here, but you get the point… The designers behind Onyrmrk reflect on what it’s like being a man today, how things are shaped between humans and the environment, what influence city life has on our mind and appearance. And it must be said, they come to interesting conclusions, integrating their insights into the brand’s collections. Striving for sustainability and diversity, Onyrmrk certainly wants to make the world a better place, where everyone enjoys their role and path.
Titled ‘Kinship’, the new collection by Onyrmrk is a surprising combination of the two quite opposite natures: collectiveness and distinctiveness. Following the trend of the year, Onyrmrk rethinks the changes 2020 brought to us, emphasizing the value and power of the ‘we-stay-together’ principle. It shows in the return to the streetwear style of the 90s as well as the discrete allusions to Eastern culture. Organic-textile, multilayered garments of the most natural hues get the audience relaxed and contemplative. By the way, the brand sets a successful example of making top and bottom clothing of the same shade like that of beige, which looks rather harmonious.
Loose coats and shirts, quarter-zip pullovers, balloon pants — in such an outfit one can equally well walk through the blossoming garden, practice yoga or take the subway to work. Headwear inspired by the Middle Eastern clothing highlight the ethical edge of the collection. However, ‘Kinship’ no way feels mainstream. For those fearing to lose their identity, there is a soothing argument: you just won’t. Onyrmrk helps men to express themselves through becoming a part of something bigger. Stacked models, rich plaid patterns, unexpected patches, all those features add authenticity to the looks, while cargo trousers and puffer jackets, by contrast, hold the concept of the line.
Follow Onyrmrk: @onyrmrk