AW16 highlights from one of the most refreshing New York Fashion Weeks for quite some time

New York Fashion Week received a shake up for AW16. In the wake of much industry talk about how the traditional fashion calendar is no longer fit for purpose in our fast paced consumer world, there was an air of upheaval and change challenging what is usually considered the most commercial week of ‘fashion month’. This was no bad thing for the city’s young and underground designers who have already rejected the status quo in favour of a more independent approach to both their collections and presentations. Megawatt bulbs still flashed for Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren et al but there was plenty of headlines at a variety of shows around the city. Here are some highlights of the week.



Fenty x Puma
After the successful release of her Puma creepers in September, Rihanna took another stride forward as creative director by releasing this full collection. Straddling the line between athleisure and high fashion, the 2014 CFDA Fashion Icon Award winner was having a sports goth moment. Set against an eerily fog-filled backdrop models donned dark lips and rosaries and paraded mostly black ensembles consisting of bomber jackets, gym shorts and even a glittery garter paired with thigh-high white patent boxing boots. Echoing a familiar trend both on and off the runway this year, Fenty x Puma featured body hugging lace-up suits and androgynous silhouettes with sneaker heels and platforms.

Brother Vellies
Charming and enlightening are two words to describe Brother Vellies, the NYC-based brand ethically produced in Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya and Morocco. CFDA/Vogue award winner Aurora James put the emphasis on issues of sustainability and global warming by setting models among blossom trees and butterflies wearing t-shirts, ponchos and bodysuits made from a patchwork of up-cycled materials. The real event though was of course the footwear - thigh-high, ankle and desert boot plus sandals and moccasins, all worn with similarly fetching furry bags in shades of nude, rose, and teal.


Gypsy Sport
Genderless. Fluid. Variant. Takeaways of the freeform clothing at Gypsy Sport. Rio Uribe’s collection featured 1970s-leaning patchwork coats, floppy hats, fuzzy fleece sweaters, track jackets and ruffled bandeaus. Lacey-flared trousers, turtlenecks and knee-length tunics made their mark in pastel blue and various shades of nude, from dark brown to a peachy-pink. His powerful casting, including albino supermodel Diandra Forrest holding her baby, sent out a message that fashion can represent all types of beauty.


Telfar Clemmons unveiled a unisex collection of coordinating basics in just three colours - brown, white, and black. Comprised of wool, denim, jersey and cotton, workwear-inspired pieces were layered up to draw attention to density. Woven textures, stripes and reinforced seams created volume and were cut in ways that emphasised structure and functionality above all. Pullovers, shorts, t-shirt, leg warmers and beanies brought home the Liberian designer’s sentiment that this season, as always, ‘simplexity’ is everything.


Kanye West
Kanye West brought NYFW to its knees by unveiled both Yeezy season 3 and new album The Life of Pablo to 20,000 attendees at Madison Square Garden and over 20million viewers worldwide. Around 1,200 models stood stoic for 90 minutes as the album played. Those dressed in shades of taupe and olive from previous collections were on a lower platform while those elevated up showed off the latest range. The tableau was meant to resemble a refugee camp to the audience, among them rappers, celebrities, fashion insiders and paying fans. Maintaining it’s athletic edge, looks included tattered sweater dresses, bodysuits and knee high socks paired with shearling parkas. The spectacle closed with Naomi Campbell, Liya Kebede, Alek Wek and Veronica Webb emerging from the sea of bodies in leotards and furs.


Zac Posen
Renowned for his red carpet gowns, Zac Posen used his show to promote diverse beauty. The line-up was predominantly non-white and included Maria Borges - who made history by being the first model to wear her natural hair in a Victoria’s Secret fashion show – alongside Grace Bol, Ajak Deng and Aya Jones. Posen took to Instagram to announce that his collection was inspired by Uganda’s Princess Elizabeth Bagaaya of Toro, who studied Law at Oxford and modeled for Diana Vreeland at Vogue in the 1960s. Moreover, Posen said it was a dream to have Ugandan model Aamito Lagum close his show. Each girl was draped in asymmetrical, torso-wrapped and layered dresses in ruby, rust, navy and black as well as pants suits and jewel adorned coats.


Pyer Moss
Kerby-Jean Raymond enlisted Erykah Badu this season to style his show that raised awareness on bi-polar disease and depression, which recently took the life of Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn McCarrel II. Models wore floor-length coats over loose-fitting gray sweats, monochrome pinstripe suits or all-over denim ensembles while a choir sang a cover of Future’s Trap Niggas. Military caps featured Badu’s neon smiley face pins. The final model marched down the runway carrying a sign bearing the last social media post made by McCarrel before he committed suicide: “My Demons Won Today I’m Sorry.”


Cushnie et Ochs
The go-tos for cocktail dresses with peek-a-boo cutouts, Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs didn’t disappoint for AW16 with a new slew ranging from skimpy to floor length. In classic shades of black, white, red, aubergine and champagne, body hugging numbers revealed a flash of shoulder or a sliver of collarbone but it was the rib cage that has decreed to be the erogenous zone next season thanks to some stand out, delicately strapped gowns. Plunging necklines, turtlenecks, sheer paneling and long leather gloves added to the mood of effortless sexiness, as did each girl’s femme fatale-worthy red lips.


Magnified bows, tartan and floral prints took centre stage at Suno to create a new spin on granny chic. Oversized skirts with high neck blouses, prim sweaters with pinafores and dark denims with pin stripe tailoring all worked expertly as demure daywear while design duo Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty reached for lamé pleated dresses and ruffled lure knits for after dark. A rich, autumnal colour palette of navy, khaki, dark green, gold and ruby made us all lust after afternoon walks in the park kicking through just fallen piles of russet leaves.


Public School
Survival in an apocalyptic winter was the echoing theme on the Public School runway. Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne recommend draping oneself in layers and layers of clothing as your best defense against the enemy and elements next season. Models marched through The Hauser & Wirth gallery in duster coats nestled over military jackets while oversized sweaters, turtle necks and track jackets sat on top of lighter, sheer dresses and skirts. Anoraks, cargo pants, denim, capes and hoods added to the city-under-siege aesthetic. Neon pink outerwear made for a striking addition to an otherwise dark line-up.