In merely a month, the Spring 2020 New York Fashion Week will kick off with rising fashion star, Telfar. This year, we see a shortened schedule to 5 days as part of a more streamlined approach under the new CFDA (Council of American Fashion Designers of America) chairman Tom Ford, who took the torch from his predecessor, Diane von Furstenberg. Some of the key designers you should pay attention to range from established New York classics such as Tommy Hilfiger and Marc Jacobs, to exciting new voices, including many of this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists.
The Old Money
Tommy Hilfiger (September 8th, 8:30 PM)
Gigi Hadid, Lewis Hamilton, Zendaya. Paris, Milan, Shanghai, New York. For the past three years, Tommy Hilfiger has been taking his brand to new dimensions of design and commercial territory, collaborating with celebrities and showing these collections in a lineup of global metropolises. He understood which gold button to push in this world that pivots on the power of imagery and instant gratification to turn up the sales. Ever since he led the brand into this see-now, buy-now direction that capitalizes on social media traction and celebrity power, it has seen a vital injection of fresh energy and revenue. “The label reported net sales of $4.2 billion in 2018, up from $3.3 billion in 2015” , and is still expected to rise higher in 2019. This September he is returning with Zendaya for their second collaboration to the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem, for a celebration of strong and fearless femininity embodied by legendary female performers the venue has hosted, including Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. Knowing Zendaya, it will be a night in no shortage of glitz and glamour, with past models including Grace Jones and Pat Cleveland.
The Row (September 9th, 9:00 AM)
It’s sometimes easy to forget that the runway shows for the Olsen sisters’ brand, The Row, in fact, takes place at the same hectic New York Fashion Week as every other brand. Dedicated to making luxurious, timeless clothing, the serenity The Row exudes is infectious and entrancing. They are a New York Fashion Week mainstay, and a prime example of the celebrity-turned-designer phenomenon. Their unique, unwavering aesthetic and attention to detail and tailoring have won them five CFDA awards, and made them a cornerstone of modern American design.
Tom Ford (September 9th, 8:00 PM)
This year marks Tom Ford’s first NYFW with as chairman of the CFDA. His global, commercial approach has always been present in every brand that he worked at the helm of, including his own. You can say he values luxury and refinement more than he does creativity or originality; season after season, it’s the same Tom Ford in design we saw before but it never fails to catch the eye (and tug the purse strings!) of a dedicated group of clientele, coming back unfailingly for that expertly-cut suit rendered in dark red velvet or the ultra-luxe bodycon evening gown that exuded Hollywood glamor.
Oscar de la Renta (September 10th, 7:00 PM)
Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia are doing a spectacular job at Oscar de la Renta, infusing its tradition and heritage with a decidedly forward-looking modern edge. This means bolder prints, stronger silhouettes, and on a business level – a more global and techy approach to attract more potential clients in Europe and Asia as well as getting in the good graces of millennials through social media. As they settled into their creative roles, we see their designs getting stronger and more confident with each season. The vibrant party dresses were especially unforgettable, and they made their way down red carpets on an increasingly impressive lineup of celebrities and royals alike.
Marc Jacobs (September 11th, 6:00 PM)
Marc Jacobs has been busy these past few months. He just launched an affordable line called THE Marc Jacobs, targeted at younger groups encouraging individuality. He received MTV’s first Fashion Trailblazer Award this July, and is set to close the New York Fashion Week shows in September. However, the attention is well-deserved, as his feathery, voluminous designs not only consistently pop up on red carpets and Instagram feeds of celeb enthusiasts, but also have the same giddy appeal to the younger generation as well. Expect him bringing a joyous ending to New York Fashion Week.
Telfar (September 6th; 6:00 PM)
In 2017, Telfar’s Telfar Clemens brought home the 2017 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize of $400,000. With that money, he re-launched the brand’s shopping bag—a black vegan leather tote embossed with the brand’s T logo that was soon to be sold out among millenials and celebrities alike (Ashton Sanders carried it with full-on Telfar getup to this year’s camp-themed Met Gala accompanied by Mr. Clemens) and would boost Telfar’s annual sales from $100,000 to $1.6 million in just two years. This year, Clemens was nominated for the CFDA Accessory Designer of the Year Award, and although they lost it to The Row’s Olsen sisters, they have only come back stronger, opening this year’s New York Fashion Week, and with the possible launch of their new jewelry line. Media-savvy and politically-driven, Telfar is sure to be one of the most anticipated and joyful shows this season, known in the past for their immersive, theatrical runway performances which married fashion, music, politics, and theater beautifully together.
Pyer Moss (September 7th, 8:00 PM)
After skipping the New York Fashion Week in February this year, Kerby Jean-Raymond didn’t just sit back and relax. Instead, he devoted his efforts to better the industry and its unsustainable (both environmentally and creatively) supply-demand chain with a humane approach, intending to use the brand as a platform to initiate change rather than encourage consumerism. Efforts included a moving campaign film shot in collaboration with Director X and dedicated to black motherhood, a pop-up store with Reebok, and T-shirt drops to raise money for Yellowhammer Fund (which, “provides funding for anyone seeking care at one of Alabama’s three independent abortion clinics”, according to their website). And the industry heard him, with Reebok extending their collaborative collection, “Reebok by Pyer Moss”, and going on to name him as the creative director of “Reebok Studies __” (to be filled out by the designer’s name). Mr. Jean-Raymond has no intention of following the fashion industry’s September-February schedule that regulates and staunches creativity with deadlines, so when he is presenting in September, you can be sure the industry will be on the edge of their seats waiting to see what this bright new star of American design and vision will offer.
Luar (September 10th, 4:00 PM)
Luar’s Raul Lopez is past talking about the 2019 urbanwear and streetwear comeback in the fashion industry, being one of the pioneers that pushed for its representation for years now (he was the cofounder of the brand that started it all, Hood by Air). Always steps ahead of the industry, he left HBA to create his own brand, Luar, which came back in 2016 with gender-fluid clothes heavily influenced by ballroom culture. Three years later, what he proposed then with his brand is permeating the industry and the culture. Consider the month-long pride celebrations in New York and the recent Met Gala exhibition: Camp: Notes on Fashion. Therefore, it’s always exciting to see his collections, in which his visions for the future of the industry could very well be a fashion barometer for years to come.
Exciting Voices (CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalists)
Christopher John Rogers (September 7th, 1:00 PM)
Christopher John Rogers is only set to present his second collection this September, but he was already dressing Michelle Obama, SZA, Cardi B. It can be said that the 25-year-old has enjoyed a fast rise. His designs are bold, voluminous, and electric, perfect for the entertainment industry where glitz and glamor are consistently in high demand.
Lou Dallas (September 8th, 11:00 AM)
One of the finalists of this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, Lou Dallas is a pop princess’s dream. Her designs are a lovely, quirky collage of interesting fabrics and deadstock materials, all pieced together using artisanal techniques. The proportions of the clothing are on point, and her knack for finding that sweet spot between chaos and continuity in styling make these clothes not just a costume fantasy for the more cerebral side of fashion, but also individual pieces that are commercially viable and interesting to the eye.
Barragán (September 9th, 12:00 PM)
Victor Barragán was raised in Mexico City and made his journey to New York and on to international recognition, first with a runway show at Century 21 last September, and this year with a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund nomination. His clothes are an eccentric blend of Mexican culture and American influence, memorializing the late-90s, early-2000s fashion that has been experiencing a revival in the industry.
Alejandra Alonso Rojas (September 10th, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM)
Beautiful knits, butter-soft leathers, and satins in vivid prints—every piece of Alejandra Alonso Rojas’ designs has a place in the ideal wardrobe of the modern woman. Born in Madrid and heavily inspired by art and Spanish cultural heritage, she nails that perfect balance in feminine dressing that many women seek: soft, sensual looks punctuated by a tougher, often equestrian edge. And their production fits right into that modern woman’s playbook, too. They are crafted with semi-couture details and ethically produced, she is hitting all the right boxes.
Khaite (September 7th, 9:00 AM)
Every aspect of Khaite’s brand design is a visual feast, including its clothes. Founded by Catherine Holstein only in 2016, they will host their second fashion show in September. Last season saw their debut as a literal dream-come-true for both the brand and the customers. The collection was a lineup of time-tested American classics crafted with impeccable tailoring and delicate sway against an expert set design of yellowing leaves and meticulous music, all of which only left the audience wanting more.
Brandon Maxwell (September 7th, 7:00 PM)
Brandon Maxwell has had a good year thus far. The American designer dressed Lady Gaga for the camp-themed Met Gala in May and won the crowd over with an unexpected four looks that married camp with the classic, luxurious American evening wear the brand is known for. That does not mean they’re switching directions anyday soon. If past seasons demonstrate anything, it’s that Mr. Maxwell knows his brand’s identity and his strong suits. This fall, we expect to see more of his timeless, breathtakingly elegant gowns and pantsuits that won the hearts of big-name celebrities and royalties like Meghan Markle.
Sies Marjan (September 8th, 3:00 PM)
Constantly playing with light and color, Sies Marjan delights the eye every season with their hallucinogenic offerings of silks and laces. Draped, veiled, and reflected, Sander Lak, the creative director of Sies Marjan, is a master at isolating elements such as colors and textures, and complementing them with showstopping set design (including color-shifting lights and Swarovski-strewn floors) to achieve maximum potential.
Gabriela Hearst (September 10th, 12:00 PM)
This May, Gabriela Hearst announced the launch of their menswear collection to the great delight of industry insiders and fashion-savvy professionals. It was a predictable next step for Hearst, whose womenswear designs have always had a tailored, almost architectural edge. On the other hand, sustainability has been part of the company’s mission since its founding in 2015, counting it among a lineup including Stella McCartney as one of the trailblazing companies in the industry that pushes for ethical changes.
Brock Collection (September 11th, 12:00 PM)
Laura Vassar and Kristopher Brock are those designers who know what they are good at and stick to it. Instead of throwing out crudely-thought-out proportions following seasonal trends, they stick to their romantic signatures— tweeds, brocades, florals, peplums, flourishes—and reimagine them in new patterns, fabrics and colors season after season. They have gained a steady following by this, too. Loyal clients include Emily Ratajkowski, Margot Robbie, and Danai Gurira.
Tomo Koizumi (September 6th, 7:00 PM)
Last season, the relatively-unknown Tomo Koizumi burst onto the scene with a fashion show that immediately went viral. Think fluffy, over-the-top, confectionery-colored tulle gowns floating down stairs like giant balls of cotton candy. It was the latest lineup of shifting trends towards big proportions, theatricality, and campness (it was featured in the Met exhibition, too!), and everybody from social media to established publications loved it. This season, we will see if Koizumi can sustain its appeal beyond temporal trends with solid designs.
Maryam Nassir Zadeh (September 9th, 2:00 PM)
You know the PVC wedges and those strappy sandals, and you certainly remember the colorful mules that was all the rage on social media two years ago. The trendsetting brand behind all of these cult shoe styles is Maryam Nassir Zadeh, which is shaping popular tastes and fashion trends one hit style after another. However, the line is more than just shoes, with their clothes speaking volumes by themselves. Scroll through the Vogue Runway archive for their latest offerings, and you would be amazed by how much of what you see on social media (flouncy blouses and sorbet-colored ruffle dresses and the like) has been influenced by this designer.
Batsheva (September 11th, 3:00 PM)
You know a brand has gotten big when their name becomes synonymous with their product. Just think about Klee-nex. Or Sharpie. Or Tupperware. Think about the clothing brand Batsheva as their fashion equivalent. The Batsheva dress—that prairie dress with puffed sleeves and ruffled edges—has taken social media by such a storm that I thought for the longest time that it denominated an actual historical style where the brand took its name from. However, trends come and go, and social media fame is notoriously hard to sustain. This September, we will see if Batsheva Hay and her creative team decide to stick to this established silhouette or reinvent themselves by putting fresh twists to accommodate changing tastes in the future.
Xinyu Wang is a fashion writer at Honeysuckle Magazine, and a rising senior at New York University majoring in Media and Communications as well as Spanish.