Fashion Month has just drawn to a close with brands and designers once again being forced to present their latest collections in innovative ways for FW21. Whilst we missed the buzz of the physical show and the front row fashions, this season COVID-19 restrictions weren’t necessarily a setback. Brands embraced the new normal and kept us engaged through a variety of mediums, from fashion films and podcasts, to panels and tutorials. YUGEN has taken a look back at the past month of presentations to bring you our standouts from the fashion capitals of the world.
As always, New York Fashion Week kicked off Fashion Month, but it was in stark contrast to the usual jam-packed roster. The high profile events and after parties which usually dominate New York Fashion Week were void, and with the pandemic forcing NYFW to go digital, many of its usual headline designers sat this one out, including Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren and Tom Ford. However, the designers that did present certainly left their mark.
Maisie Wilen grabbed our attention with the debut of her fourth collection for NYFW. The Parsons graduate and former Yeezy women’s wear designer presented her latest psychedelic line via a virtual runway show which saw models pacing through cyan waters. Second-skin bodycon dresses and vibrant pastel prints dominated the collection, which was saturated with ‘70s nostalgia. Wilen perfectly tapped into fashion’s current narrative, presenting garments which are both perfect for a night lounging on the sofa, whilst also being club ready.
For FW21, Bevza looked to the significance of female strength. The minimalist collection followed a predominantly white, cream and black colour palette, with the focal point being a headdress inspired by Olga of Kiev. Whilst women’s rights generally weren’t considered until the late 20th century, Olga of Kiev challenged this notion when she became the ruler of ancient Ukraine. To this day Olga remains a symbol of female empowerment for the Ukrainian people, which is reflected in Bevza’s homage.
Another attention-grabbing designer on the rise was Edvin Thompson, the man behind Brooklyn-based brand Theophilio. For the ‘Solace’ collection, Thompson pulled inspiration from The Matrix, as well as the concept of what it means to be a hero in modern day life. The collection featured bold colours, cut-outs and references to Caribbean style.
Undeterred by limitations of the pandemic, Ulla Johnson staged her biggest show yet at the Lincoln Center (whilst being COVID safe of course). The collection featured a sea of rich mustards, burnt oranges and vibrant reds, juxtaposed with bright bursts of sea-foam blue. Exaggerated shoulders and bishop sleeves were paired with loose, flowing skirts and dresses, whilst prints were layered on top of each other reflecting the exploratory nature of the collection.
©3.1 PHILLIP LIM, Photography by Sharif Hazma
3.1 Phillip Lim also debuted his new collection, presenting elegant formalwear with a playful twist. In-between promoting the collection, the brand’s namesake designer used his platform to comment on the alarming increase of Asian hate crime. Lim shared a story to his personal Instagram account noting: “I sit here feeling somewhat helpless, invisible, and semi-defeated because our Asian stories are not being reported in mainstream media…. It feels as if we do not really matter or even exist.” Reflecting on his own personal experiences, as well as recalling shocking statistics regarding Asian hate crime, Lim asked “fellow human beings…will you stand with me to stop Asian hate?”
This season saw the first ever London Fashion Week under full-lockdown, after last season’s offerings conveniently coincided with temporary reduced restrictions in September. With the looming return to lockdown imminent, brands adapted and prepared and this season saw one of the most sustainable and gender inclusive London Fashion Weeks ever, from Harris Reed’s LFW debut, to Art School’s headline grabbing presentation.
Speaking of Art School, the stunningly dark collection ‘Ascension’, marked a new era for the brand after the departure of former collaborator Tom Barratt.
The genderless brand featured a cast of gender-fluid models, celebrating a range of queer bodies, including Rupaul’s Drag Race fan favourites A’Whora and Bimini Bon Boulash. Dazed cited designer Eden Loweth as “one of the most radically inclusive designers” on the schedule, noting that their “vision of fashion leaves no one on the sidelines – no matter age, race, ability, size, or gender-identity.”
On the collection, Loweth wrote that ‘Ascension’ is “more than a collection of clothes. It is a message of hope. No matter how hard the challenges our community may face, we will emerge from the darkness. Together we will rise.”
Emerging menswear designer Saul Nash presented his latest collection through a striking video presentation circling preconceived ideas of masculinity, race and sexuality. The video, titled ‘Twist’, was made in collaboration with Nash’s partner, filmmaker FX Goby, and it’s difficult to find the words to describe the feeling it evoked, so I encourage you to watch it if you haven’t already.
Nash is cementing himself as a future superstar of the streetwear world. The designer is reinvigorating sportswear, prioritising functionality over cosmetic ornamentation through the use of lightweight fabrics, quick-release zippers and mesh ventilation panels.
Founded by young designer Carmen Hidalgo, Mynok’s latest collection ‘Searching For The Fireflies’ blurs the lines between masculine and feminine dress. Through striking avant-garde designs and asymmetrical silhouettes, the designer explored survival, new life and finding darkness in the light.
Having only launched the brand in November 2020, the collection only consists of 6 looks, but if these looks are anything to go by, the future certainly looks bright for Mynok.
EIRINN HAYHOW looked to psychedelic visuals and ‘90s nostalgia for her ‘Magic Mushrooms’ collection. Presented in a VHS-like video, models were superimposed onto trippy backgrounds featuring visuals of vibrantly coloured mushrooms. A shining silver trench coat reinforced the feeling of rave culture, whilst flared jeans and patchwork crochet sleeves exemplified the caricature of the late ‘60s drug-taking hippie.
Eirinn Hayhow is known for creating collections from salvaged and sustainable materials, and looked to mushrooms as the inspiration for this collection due to their wellbeing properties for humans and the ecosystem. Every garment in ‘Magic Mushrooms’ was made from salvaged cotton or sustainable fibres, including pineapple leather and hemp fibres, with the designer also creating her own natural dyes from foraging plants and berries, and reusing fruit and vegetable waste.
After previously launching the careers of designers including Craig Green and Simone Rocha, Fashion East show no signs of stopping. Lulu Kennedy, the platform’s curator, gathered a collective of 5 stand-out designers for FW21, with two new additions to the Fashion East family: HRH and Jawara Alleyne.
After making headlines with his Fashion East debut last season, Maximilian returned once again with a follow-up that, dare we say, was even better. The designer drew inspiration from the ‘60s space-age, combining this with the fashion and stylings of his Trinidadian grandmother (also a source of inspiration for his last collection). As Black people were largely excluded from this period of fashion history, designer Maximilian Davis wanted to reverse this and reclaim the narrative.
Nensi Dojaka also presented her new collection featuring sheer fabrics, visible seams and her trademark thin straps. It was also a momentous presentation for GOOM, who showed their final collection as a part of Fashion East. Designer Goom Heo looked to horror for inspiration and FW21 saw the debut of the brand’s first ever accessory - a cross-body bag.
The presentation also saw Jawara Alleyne make his Fashion East debut, after only graduating from Central Saint Martins last year. The collection, titled ‘The Renegade’, explored the concept of masculinity, offering his own idea of men’s wear through crop tops, floral prints, and slashed midriffs. Accessory brand HRH was the second new FE brand, with designer Hannah Hopkins drawing on her experiences of being a gymnast to create oversized scrunchies and ‘lucky charms’ inspired by those collected on tours.
Milan Fashion Week kicked off on 23 February and followed in the digital footsteps of New York and Milan. However, the move to digital wasn’t the only change for MFW. After months of criticism regarding fair representation and improved diversity on the Italian catwalk, the week opened with a historic presentation dubbed Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion.
5 designers, all Italian but born in various African countries, opened Milan Fashion Week under the ‘Made in Italy’ brand. Designer Gisèle Claudia Ntsama presented eco-friendly designs made entirely from hemp, that followed a soft, almost pastel colour palette. Joy Meribe also presented her collection; a series of silk skirts, dresses and pants in rich blues and reds. Meribe told Fashion United “as a woman and an immigrant in Italy, I had to work twice as hard to prove that I have the same skills as the others.”
Another designer to showcase under the ‘Made in Italy’ brand was Fabiola Manirakiza, who presented her label Frida Kiza, which she founded in 2016. Her monochromatic designs featured loose boxy cuts adorned with white ribbon embellishments. On the other end of the spectrum, Karim Daoudi chose to use bright colours in his shoes reminiscent of his hometown of Morocco in his collection titled "Journey into the forest”.
The final designer was Mokodu Fall who produced striking painted suits in a reflection and celebration of his African origins. The pieces were attention-grabbing walking walks of art.
Following on from the pair’s debut last year, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons’ FW21 collection was dominated by bold ‘60s patterns and colourful layering.
The collection began with models emerging from a multi-textural environment lined with marble and faux fur, wearing tailored suits and dresses atop skin tight undergarments. Fitted bodysuits were present throughout the collection, creating an emphasis on the body and movement. The pair also played with textures shown through shimmering sequin coats and dresses, and faux fur jackets and shrugs.
Images Vien FW21 via Papmagazine
Presented in a short fashion film, Víen’s collection takes traditional formalwear and flips it on its head. Tailored suits were manipulated with opened zips sewn into the trousers, and dresses were deconstructed and fused with shirts to bring an avant-garde edge to traditional business dress.
The collection features transparent trench coats, and skirts layered on top of trousers. The fusion of streetwear and formalwear effortlessly embraces youth counterculture to create a sleek distinct design.
Marco Rambaldi also used the medium of fashion film to present his collection, heading out to Bologna with his team to pose as squatters. Knitwear dominated FW21 for the designer, complete with bright colours and childlike patterns. The wonderfully eclectic mix of items featured loose fitting zebra print trousers, paired with a skintight pink jacket, with denim pieces dotted throughout the collection.
A golden kaleidoscopic monogram maze was the setting for Versace’s FW21 fashion film, which saw Gigi Hadid make her return to the runway after the birth of her daughter Khai. The maze was the setup for the launch of the brand’s new ‘La Greca’ monogram. The new motif was prominent throughout the collection being printed across suits, bags, jackets, and even hosiery.
Chunky platform boots in a range of colourways were a focal point, making a splash on social media. On the whole, this collection was in stark contrast to the designs and motifs we’ve seen from Donatella in recent years, colours were more muted and replaced with beige, blacks and golds. This, combined with the introduction of Le Greca, suggests a new age of Versace, one which we cannot wait to enter.
Yesterday (10 March) Fashion Month as always came to a close with Paris Fashion Week. Unlike New York, the big names were out in force with powerhouses like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Givenchy all presenting. Here are our favourite presentations from the last week.
Staying true to his signature dark styling, save the stitching and lining, Yohji Yamamoto’s ready-to-wear collection for FW21 was entirely black. The minimalist designs feature contrasting white hems and threads left dangling in a beautifully deconstructed manner which create their own distinct pattern in the absence of printed fabric.
Asymmetry ran throughout the garments, and the designer’s punk ideology was displayed throughout. Whilst the collection is exquisitely chaotic, the raw elements are signature Yohji with the show being curated at a time when the 77 year old designer “is questioning himself about ‘the future.’”
Olivier Rousteing embarked on a journey for FW21 and invited us along for the ride. Once again the presentation was a virtual runway, with models emerging from an aeroplane using the wing as a makeshift catwalk, before we were transported into space revealing a second runway suspended in front of the moon.
The aviation theme ran through into the clothing through aviator jackets, flight suits, and whimsical accessories, which included neck cushion earrings. This collection saw Rousteing experiment with everything from practicality to silhouettes, producing a confident and momentous collection for the designer.
For FW21, Marine Serre presented her ‘CORE’ collection via a two-part documentary and book, creating a dedicated website for the launch. In a press release, Serre explained that “this last year has been difficult for everyone, but there is no longer any question about it, things must be done differently. We want to bring eco-futurism to the streets.” The presentation takes us behind the scenes of the production process, visualising the sustainable methods used by Serre, including the regeneration of fabrics.
Rick Owens debuted his collection via a virtual runway which saw models strutting down an ominous stone jetty in an eerily dystopian style, which has now become synonymous with the designer. The show opened with puffer capes, and whilst many designers chose to escape reality through their garments, Owens reflected the current climate incorporating draped face masks.
Gothic thigh high platform shoes complimented deconstructed sleeves, fishtail dresses, and layered garments, whilst bodysuits paired with elongated shoulders transported us into an otherworldly superhero fantasy.
Thebe Magugu looked to female divination and his South African heritage for his ‘Alchemy’ collection, using the medium of film to present his garments. Written and shot by Kristin-Lee Moolman, BANYOLOYI A BOSIGO tells the story of neighbouring tribes, whilst exploring African spirituality.
The garments feature sharp tailoring, high hats, and elegant draping. Stand-outs include a breathtaking white and turquoise ombré cape dress, as well as a hot pink flared suit, cinched with a matching belt.
Text: Sam Pennington