ApparelMagic clients rule the runway at New York Fashion Week
by Ian Laughead
ApparelMagic clients Sean Monahan and Monica Paolini hit all the right notes this season with their latest collection for their Sea New York line. Imbued with casual, beachy vibes, each item was washed or unfinished just enough to keep them equally elegant and effortless.
With distinct seventies influences running through the collection, the garments themselves ran the gamut from buttercup and pale pink cropped jumpsuits all the way to Victorian prairie blouses taken straight out of a Willa Cather novel and brought up to date with on-trend shoulder cut outs.
For those looking for more understated looks, there was also great variety and possibilities. Length is Sea’s story of the season, with a crisp, floor-length skirt perfect for any summer day, or cropped pants paired with a long indigo duster jacket falling nearly to the ankle.
The collection also played with volumes in the case of baggy trousers that pooled around the models’ shoes and looked especially fresh for the season.
Other stand-out looks included the sweetest chambray dress, tea-length with a button front and off-the-shoulder bishop sleeves, as well as several tops and dresses that tied together in the back, on the bust, or at the shoulder with huge bows. Even inspired by extra-serious pioneers, the designers still know how to be playful.
The most refreshing place to cool off during the frequently scorching New York Fashion Week was undoubtably a certain rooftop pool in the city’s West Village. ApparelMagic client Flagpole staged their spring swimwear presentation there, showcasing the line between sunny blue skies and the cool blue pool.
Stationed around the pool, models showed off the season’s bright corals and aquas, color blocked cleanly with contrasting navy or white. Flagpole’s aesthetic has a midcentury look, and fans of high-waisted bottoms will not be disappointed, with a couple of prime examples including a hybrid one-piece with a standard high-waisted brief bottom attached to a rash guard top.
Outside of the deep end, the collection also offered a number of coverup options like a loose fitting teal playsuit or a wrap skirt for the walk back to the cabana.
Jaime Barker and Megan Balch’s premium line has previously focused on swimwear, but this season marks its expansion into activewear with several sleek takes on yoga staples including leggings and sports bras. Covered in the same graphic blocking as this season’s swim, they are the perfect minimalist alternatives to gimmicky performancewear found elsewhere.
Fashion references dance constantly, and who can blame it? With graceful ballerinas, cerebral contemporary dancers, and flamenco femmes fatale, it is an unending spring of imagery from which designers can pull. However, ApparelMagic client Jill Stuart‘s studio examined dancers from a much much different angle this season. Putting her models in the armwarmers of professional dancers, Stuart focused her gaze on the rehearsal studio. If anything, Stuart’s collection looked beyond the stage and idolized the dancers for their craft and long hours of dedication in the studio.
As if caught between warmups and a recital, some models wore diaphanous dresses over leggings while others were in middle of a costume change with a black slip showing beneath a tissue-thin floral dress. Another embellished gown in buff chiffon was worn over a metallic sweater with extra long sleeves, which, with the layers reversed, would look downright stunning off the stage after stepping away from the dancehall on a chilly spring night.
Stuart showed herself particularly unafraid of the limits of taste with this collection. With a very careful eye, she mixed, matched, and clashed various colors and prints, breaking fashion rules while affecting super cool carelessness. Florals were nineties on punk black backgrounds, and black tulle was layered over rainbows of colors adding an extra shot of je ne sais quoi.
This season, Naeem Khan went full-on seventies glam. The ApparelMagic client best known for his dazzling gowns on the red carpet proved he also knows how to get down to disco. Models looked like they were stepping into famed nightclub Studio 54 in Halston-inspired dresses that flattered every curve.
The dresses, many long sleeve, knit, and floor length, were covered in swirls, sequins, and sometimes Warholian poppy motifs. One after another, Khan sent out every variation of cocktail and evening dress, from fringed flapper minidresses to one richly embroidered with a matching headscarf.
Vibrant colors, especially a knock-out red, amped up the drama, and one could see why so many Hollywood stars choose Naeem Khan for their most important nights.
Some highlights of the collection included a number of looks with mega floral patterns rendered in sequins and a few pale tulle dresses covered dripping with gold and electric yellow embroidery. Handiwork was omnipresent here, with one of the more extreme ideas being a three-piece look—cape, shell top, and leggings—doused entirely in the most fun sequin pattern this side of 1979.
Maria Cornejo‘s namesake line is a standard-bearer of thoughtful, responsible design in New York’s fashion scene, and her spring collection was no exception. Anchoring the runway show was an eco-friendly viscose that Cornejo showed off in a variety of applications. In a palette limited almost entirely to a natural eggshell, and ensembles eliminating even footwear, all excesses were put aside, focusing on cut and proportion.
And what brilliant feats of pattern engineering they were. Loose, flowing clothes were like visions of some beautiful, utopian future where fashion doesn’t harm the environment and minimalist dressing is the order of the day.
Starting from the first look, an updated version of an eighteenth-century nightgown, it was love at first sight with the easy, long-and-lean silhouettes. Many looks had strong vertical lines, some with ribbons hanging untied, languidly flowing behind the barefoot models.
The few items shown of different fabrication looked like rough-hewn hemps that contrasted beautifully with the gossamer drapes of the rest of the collection. Keeping things simple, Cornejo is creating a future we want to live in.
Femininity is having a moment, if husband and wife team Sachin and Babi Ahluwalia’s spring collection is any indication. Their line, Sachin & Babi, showed a dizzying array of laces and florals at its presentation at New York Fashion Week. In a palette of rosy tones and classic black and white, the collection took girlish dresses every direction, from sweet and virginal floor length gowns to modish pink minidresses to even red Spanish-inspired looks.
These dresses aren’t the prim and proper ones of old, however. Each is brought up to speed with the current climate with subtle changes that make them less suited for a fairytale princess and more for the strong women of today.
Perhaps the biggest contrasts lay in a number of dresses in saccharine hues with thick black straps that criss-cross the body before being tied into an easy knot.
Florals here aren’t delicate, but bold enough to send a shock with their painterly embroidery. In the same vein, flounces are treated eccentrically with black trim. Not your grandmother’s ruffles.
Thom Browne’s spring show was an ode to the bathing beauties of yesteryear.
Models entered as a big, jovial group, giggling and preening together in retro beach coverups and coordinating bathing caps as they took their places around a simulated pool done up in brightly colored tiles.
With the cinematic flourish Browne’s shows are known for, as a silver-sequin clad model—with a hat that could only be the offspring of a dog and a disco ball—made her way by each model, they took off their beach gear to reveal layers of kitschy prep. There was gingham and tennis whites, checkerboard prints and hibiscus motifs, all of the iconic resort staples thrown into a surrealist blender.
Browne, an ApparelMagic client, is never one to go the obvious route, and upon closer inspection, it was all an illusion of trompe-l’oiel. Each ensemble was actually one fully fashioned item. Coats and cardigans and shirts and skirts were all sewn as single garments, each entered through a long wetsuitesque zipper in the back.
Before the show ended, the models made their last costume change of the show, all stripping down to red, blue, and white striped bathing costumes and posing like vintage pin-up girls en masse.
After only breaching the new millenium a decade and a half ago, it might seem early, but for New York’s finest fashion designers, the oughts are back in style. 2015 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner and ApparelMagic client Jonathan Simkhai took everything we love about LA-chic circa 2005 and threw out the parts we already want to forget.
In soft white silks, sandy-hued laces, and muted indigo chambrays, Simkhai’s spring collection took on the socialite era with a subtle elegance that belied the decade’s tabloid past.
Models walked the runway in dreamy dishabille, with white robes and lingerie-inspired lace and negligees-turned-cocktail dresses. Plunging deep V necklines and slits up-to-there showed some skin but the restrained intricacies of the lace and embroidery took it away from any vulgar territory.
Even beyond the millennial lingerie-inspired camisole trend, Simkhai took on other 00s staples, including the bootcut jean and the mermaid dress. This time, however, he took that flared leg and added it to a chambray skirt as a delicate trumpet hem. As for the mermaid dress present at every early 2000s award show, all he needed to do this time around was add some trend-right cut outs and sheer panels to bring it right up to 2017.
Easily one of the headlining show of New York Fashion Week is Shayne Oliver’s controversial label Hood By Air. Following up a prestigious New Yorker profile, the ApparelMagic client took to the runway with characteristic bravado.
One of the first looks labeled itself in bold red letters “Not Suitable for Children” which seemed absolutely appropriate as models of both genders stomped out in androgynous but very adult outfits with hair and even faces covered in vaseline.
Many of the looks were cool, underground versions of traditional menswear, but done with a panache that would fly better at an arty party than in a boardroom. Some staid white shirts were stamped with colorful language, while others transformed into halter tops. Closing looks in wool suiting were one piece with zippers and took the suit the farthest possible from the source material, but in the best way possible.
Many other looks, too, were difficult to parse, including cowboy boots that had toes going each way, forward and backward. For a label that only seasons ago was making its name in logo T shirts, these conceptual items show huge growth.
Hood By Air often dresses the biggest names in hip hop, including Rihanna just weeks ago at the MTV Video Music Awards, it shouldn’t be surprising that the styling would look even better on stage than on the runway. A few looks were outfitted as just a parka and not much else, and one can imagine they’ll show up on Rihanna’s back in record time.