NYFW is energized by the art school mentality

group of women wearing dresses in a fashion show

A young set designer sitting next to me at the Puppets and Puppets runway shows said, “It’s really just a excuse to get all of your friends together.” He was commenting about the shows that will be held in spring/summer 2022, which are an antidote for the business-as usual tony old guard at NYFW. These designers believe that fostering a community is better than trying to court a celebrity. Fun and chaos are now the new norm. It’s a mix of block party, spontaneous gigs, and pop-ups. Although the art school budget is limited, creativity can be slowed by the lack of materials and supplies. However, designers must also consider the debt we owe Mother Nature (the sustainability overdrafts) which are a major concern.

group of women wearing dresses in a fashion show

The Puppets and Puppets Show was held at the Ukrainian National Home in Manhattan’s East Village. The lines of young people with phones out gathered around the corner, infuriating Veselka’s owner at peak brunch hour.

“How has the pandemic affected our mental- are we still haunted?,” reads the show notes. The collection, which was inspired by the roaring 20s, retained the art world sensibility Carly Mark’s co-founder Carly Mark, whose drop waist silhouettes were not paired alongside flapper purses with beaded fringe, but rather totes made from gold Christmas tinsel. China saucers were attached to the backs of models and an Emmental was attached to their heads. It was a sad celebration. “We are on the edge of hopefulness and hauntedness.”

Nigerian-born Taofeek Abijako founded Streetwear label Head of State. He invited dancer Abu Bakar to the runway to launch the brand’s womenswear collection, Homecoming. His brand is a “representation for postcolonial youth today”, with all proceeds going towards underserved communities.

New York Fashion Week’s new guard is here!

These art-school hallmarks are a sense of engagement, a do it yourself glamor, and an elevation in mundanity. These characteristics were evident from the very beginning of NYFW, when Saint Sinter set up a playground with stacked-furnished neon cubes and foam clouds above an artificial turf runway dotted with lawn chairs and chintzy couches. It was a reflection of the chaotic apartment living that has unites New Yorkers for the past 18 months. The newspaper kiosk at the front was where guests got their seat assignment and vaccination cards.

woman in front of the wall wearing traditional costume headdress

Lockdown dressing’s braless conditions have also helped the Free the Nipple movement. Puppets knitwear was adorned with trompe l’oeil boobs, while Saint Sinter and Private Policy had nude dresses. These were not the floor-length, ruched columns of tulle that Megan Fox, Beyonce and Kim Kardashian wore. These runway dresses were short and flowy, and they danced like maracas.

Private Policy’s white pots were the source of greenery. This is a reminder of how we became plant parents during lockdown. Jason Wu’s lush bouquets, however, are integral to his creation process. The flowers were wrapped in fabric to leave an impression. Wu’s formal occasionwear is not in keeping with the style of the other collections, but he will take the flowers to Pratt for a workshop on natural dyeing. Perhaps he should be granted honorary membership to Pratt’s art school crew.

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