Zankov: Knitwear specialist Henry Zankov has been designing sweaters for many of the industry’s big names for years. Now, he’s branching out under his own name. ‘Each piece is made to last and cherish,’ says the designer. Mixing technical know-how with an intuitive feel-good factor, Zankov showed a wardrobe of crewneck sweaters, sporty knit hoodies, ‘jumpergans’, oversized blankets and even a pair of mohair basketball shorts. Checkerboard and stripes are established a brand motif. Using specialty yarns such as high twist viscose crepe and super soft brushed alpaca-blend mohair - so light its ‘air-spun’ - Zankov creates sculptural pieces that are extremely light. The set was impressive: chairs were custom-made by Brendan Timmins, graphic walls created from off-cast cardboard by architect Gabriel Feld, and metal frames by architect Samuele Brianza.
New York Fashion Week A/W 2020 Editor’s Picks
As the first stage of fashion month kicks off in America’s capital, we round up the standout moments from A/W 2020’s shows and presentations, from Zankov’s kaleidoscopic knitwear, to Ulla Johnson’s handcraft-focused collection, inspired by Charlotte Perriand
Tibi: Designer Amy Smilovic opted out of a runway show this season, and decided to invite showgoers to an convivial presentation held at her brand’s Soho boutique instead. ‘This season, I wanted someone thing new. I was craving something a little more permanent,’ she says. ‘I think the idea that after this show, [the shop] will still be here - it feels really me.’ Inspired by travel, the label’s versatile new collection, which teams classic, evergreen silhouettes with an array of cleverly tweaked details, was also accompanied by cozy footwear, embellished travel pillows and the brand’s riff on an airport shop, stocked with travel essentials and souvenirs all specially branded with its logo.
Sandy Liang: Showing in Stuyvesant High School, the school Sandy Liang graduated from 10 years ago, models with barely a scrap of make-up walked the breadth of the atrium to a live string ensemble overlooked by two NYPD attendants manning the reception desk. A decade on, Laing has graduated into a new confidence. Her brand of New York femininity meets sportswear that was once born from coloured shearlings has now evolved into more understated, grown up and easy-going mood. A bib front white cotton blouse, a black leather pencil skirt, and knee-high boots with a sensible run-around-town heel set the tone. The looks that tried the least - a smocked black blouse and perfectly cut high waisted jeans - were the most successful and felt the most fresh. Laing has shown she has another string to her bow with great every day city pieces. A handful of men’s looks that involved sporty fleece and tracksuits felt like a fitting accompaniment.
Self-portrait: In a credible evolution of his line, Han Chong showed a compelling offering of elegant daywear and sophisticated partywear where wearability and beauty was paid equal consideration. In recent seasons, he’s moved away from decorative flounces and frills, streamlining the silhouette for a more grown up woman. It’s paying dividends. Bobbin lace peeked out from below a tuxedo jacket; a black waisted PVC jacket had a new strictness; tailoring was impressively sharp and robust, well executed in a lilac overcoat. Svelte party dresses came in figure-skimming velvet speckled with diamente crystals. Footwear was a surprising highlight with Edwardian-esque satin mules and patent heels with Perspex block heels.
Christopher John Rogers: The biggest crowds this week have been drawn by Christopher John Rogers, emerging talent and recipient of the CFDA 2019 Fashion Fund Award, known for flamboyant silhouettes and unapologetic colours. Only a year ago he was showing with a self-funded presentation on the Lower East Side. Today, international top editors, stylists, buyers and New York’s creatives jostled to take their place at this Spring Studios show, six rows deep. The mood was high drama and subversive nightlife. The set was concepted to recreate a Parisian salon show. Executed by Barcelona-based studio Sauras + Garriga - run by architect Sergi Sauras and designer Mery Garriga, a swath of velvet and contemporary chandelier outfitted the space. This is a rare designer that manages to span red carpets and magazine covers, with a gender-fluid club culture appeal. Needless to say, the crowds were riveted.
Ulla Johnson: Charlotte Perriand’s ’L’art de Vivre’ served as a touchstone for Ulla Johnson’s latest collection, which displayed an artful sensibility. Packed with vibrant patchwork, tie dye and ikat prints, a rich colour palette inspired by East Africa and Francis Bacon, and plenty of handcrafted touches, the label’s feminine silhouettes took on a bold flavour and a heightened confidence. Knee-high boots, sculptural jewellery, oversized sunglasses and large slouchy handbags effortlessly complemented signature staples such as leather overalls, diaphanous dresses and denim boiler suits.
Zadig & Voltaire: The label’s spin on effortless French dressing took an elevated turn this season with plenty of tailoring and suiting serving as the anchor point. Exaggerated blazer shapes in neat tweed checks, oversized workshirts cut from leather and suit trousers displaying just a slightly bootcut leg were just some of the ways that the label imbued androgynous wardrobe staples with an innate sense of cool.
3.1 Philip Lim: In a celebration of sustainability, community, diversity and humanity - values that Philip Lim holds close - the designer eschewed a runway presentation this season, opting instead to throw open the doors of his Noho boutique for the day, allowing visitors to experience his latest collection firsthand. A/W 2020 sees Lim distill his label’s utilitarian ethos even further. Sculptural silhouettes are both wearable and refined, thanks to the use of colour blocking, intricate applique, patchwork and origami details. Sustainably made using materials such as recycled cruelty-free wool serge, and organic cotton instead of down or feathers to fill the season’s duvet coats, the collection embodies modern living in more ways than one.
Jonathan Cohen: Inspired by the blossoming of a rose, Jonathan Cohen presented a vibrant, feminine collection, that recalls the freedom of self-expression which typically comes with youth. This season’s silhouettes were not only more figure focused than in the past, but also incorporated grungey tropes, such as plaid prints, Dr Martens shoes and patchwork - albeit treated with a refined hand. Although nostalgic in spirit , the collection had one eye firmly on the future with it’s commitment to sustainability. Materials used in the collection ranged from recycled Italian cashmere and Econyl, a 100% regenerated nylon, to the label’s own fabric scraps and upcycled Swarovski crystals.
Jason Wu: A raw concrete venue in New York’s Chelsea gallery district was the evening setting for Jason Wu’s A/W 2020 show. The industrial location was softened with giant tumbles of blossom branches and exotic orchids. His return to the NYFW schedule after an 18 month hiatus last season was well received. Tonight, he continued to solidify those reset foundations with organza and marabou eveningwear that defied gravity and immaculate wool tailoring - including pencil skirts with daring thigh slashes. All was slinky, waisted, sensual, uptown. His floral prints dusted with crystals were a highlight.
Marina Moscone: Canadian sisters Marina and Francesca Moscone have proven to be one to watch on the New York circuit, thanks to their effortless collections that derive their beauty from their restraint. For A/W 2020, the brand presented a collection that, despite being pared back, was still infused with lots of enchanting details. Blazer and suit jacket shapes were elongated and transformed into dresses that secured with a row of crystal-encrusted buttons. Eveningwear, which mostly adhered to a straight, column-shaped silhouette, was teamed with sculptural draped panels and yards of trailing fringe to create fluidity and movement. Layering took the form of throwing a tailored trenchcoat over checked trousers and adding a blue fur cape as a finishing touch. Undeniably ladylike while still managing to stay cool, the collection exemplified minimal elegance at its best.
Dion Lee: Shy is probably the last word to describe Dion Lee’s newest collection, which was staged over four levels of the glass-encased atrium of The Shed. Lee’s body conscious sensibility took on an even more provocative bent this season with a bold fluidity weaving through both men’s and women’s looks. Skintight knitted dresses boasted daring cutaways, while being delicately held together by pins and metal hardware. Low slung trousers were worn with fishnet bodysuits, metal chain belts and cropped, cutaway tanks - an ensemble that was as arresting worn by a man as it was by a woman. Finished with flat leather handbags and square-toed mules, the collection’s gender-bending ethos was easily something to get behind.
Chromat: Arriving at the Chromat presentation - hosted in the basement gym of an office block in the Financial District - it was clear that founder Becca McCharen-Tran has become the spokesperson of a generation, her clothes being the loud speaker. The sizeable crowd of #ChromatBabes was hyped for the unveiling - an athletic instructor barked instructions and motivation at the streecast models (including New York fixtures DJ Maya Margerita and Museum Mammy) as they lunged and stretched in neon Lycra cutaway swimsuits, cycling shorts and make-up colours (for the boys, too) to rival the clothes. ‘Each Chromat collection explores the intersection of architecture, fashion and technology, producing garments that augment and enhance the body’s performance through innovative design and cutting-edge technical fabrics,’ says the brand on its website that retails its radical swim and gym wear. It certainly put that into practice today. Photography: Jason Lloyd-Evans
Khaite: ‘I’ve been thinking about what ‘sexy’ means to me, as an independent woman and now that I’m 36,’ said Khaite founder Catherine Holstein backstage after her show. ‘I used to shy away from the word and say "sensual" because I thought it was more sophisticated, but now I want to embrace it’. Guests were transported to the middle of the night for Khaite’s 9am show. Dry ice, police sirens and rock and roll were piped in - inspired by Holstein’s pre-digital arrival in New York aged 18. Her ‘proposition of pleasure’ included after-hours appropriate leopard-print velvet and barely there licks of nude chiffon. In contrast, shearling collar flight jackets, argyle knits in recycled cashmere, beautifully pared-back handbags and a coated cotton trench were well pitched for dawn.
Helmut Lang: An iconic series of black and white photographs from 1976 by the photographer and activist Sunil Gupta prompted the Helmut Lang label to commission him to make a new body of work featuring it’s A/W 2020 collection. Set on Christopher Street in New York City, just as the originals had been, the new images feature a diverse new cast of underrepresented people , thus continuing the dialogue and commentary Gupta initiated all those years ago.