New York Fashion Week designers did the pivot.
Collections introduced during the recent fall 2019 season that ended Wednesday had a more minimal and less embellished approach that some retail observers attributed to the desire for peace and quiet amid the chaos of life’s challenges and cacophony of social media. “Reality,” “grounded,” “effortless” and “luxe” were some of the words used to describe the looks, which were, at their best, wrought from luxury fibers and rendered in monochromatic colors.
“There’s a real sobriety to how fashion looks right now,” said Ken Downing, fashion director and senior vice president of Neiman Marcus. “We want this calm period in our wardrobes. There’s global chaos and so much going on. It’s a real moment of individuality, allowing the wearer to be the star. Who you are is more important than the label you’re wearing.”
For retailers who’ve been bemoaning the casualization of fashion, designers for fall offered polished head-to-toe looks replete with boots and handbags — ca-ching!
“The week’s collections seemed to be both forward-looking and nostalgic, which is a good mix at retail,” said Linda Fargo, senior vice president of the fashion office and director of women’s fashion and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, who described the progression as “real clothes for real lives, with a fresh take. American sportswear seems to be evolving with a modernist edge, deconstructing and reconstructing itself. We’re buying into the luxe and easy oversized shapes.”
“Anything that’s overly ostentatious is becoming less and less apparent in New York,” said Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director at Mytheresa.com. “There’s a certain ease with American fashion. It’s not always statement-making, but rather more runway-to-street, which is what’s most appealing to our customers.”
“There was that feeling of reality dressing that came through in tonal looks, strong tailoring, elevated denim and strong knitwear with a twist,” said Moda Operandi fashion director Lisa Aiken. “There were so many looks that could literally walk off the runway and into the real world.”
Roopal Patel, senior vice president and fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue, cited the less-is-more ethos as “a very big shift taking place in fashion. There’s a new sensibility to dressing. There’s less prints and patterns. It’s the return of minimalism.”
Not that the runways were boring. Overblown sleeves lent interest, as did saturated crayon-color palettes that contained marigold, full-on pink and purple. On the more subdued side, there was plenty of camel, white and beige.
“Dramatic volume is the new decoration and adornment,” Downing said. “We’re moving away from the flash and spangle and shine for a much more sleek, pared-down point-of-view. The fabric, cut and execution of the design becomes paramount as opposed to a lot of surface decoration.”
Since designers aren’t cleaving to trends as heavily, the clothes have “a timelessness and a real sense of longevity,” said Downing. “Customers will be happy to enjoy them for some time.”
Here’s more of what retailers had to say:
Roopal Patel, senior vice president and fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue
Favorite collections: Gabriela Hearst’s sophisticated and luxe clothing; The Row’s beautiful, chic and modern minimalism; Oscar de la Renta’s glamour; Ralph Lauren’s tailoring and gold evening wear, and Marc Jacobs’ polished, dramatic and sophisticated fashion with oversize cape coats, feathers, tulle and sequins that gave the collection a dream and fantasy [quality]. Also Proenza Schouler, Brandon Maxwell, Adam Lippes, Jason Wu, Nanushka, Palm Angels and Zimmermann.
Trend spotting: Monochromatic dressing, colorblocking, eveningwear, Seventies and Eighties influence, refined head-to-toe looks, including a statement coat layered over a beautiful skirt, knee boots and a polished bag.
Talent scouting: Deveaux is one of the stars, and Khaite is a brand with a lot of talent.
Must-have items: Great outerwear, layered look, tailored suit, great knit and great pants.
How to improve New York Fashion Week: It’s in a state of change at the moment. Emerging talents not long ago — [Brandon] Maxwell, [Adam] Lippes, [Jason] Wu, The Row and [Gabriela] Hearst — are rising to the next level. It’s important to keep championing and being supportive. New York is where the world can discover new talents and brands.
Ken Downing, fashion director and senior vice president of Neiman Marcus
Favorite collections: Oscar de la Renta’s beautiful clothes and the girls; Brandon Maxwell’s pared down elegance; Gabriela Hearst’s dramatic volume; Michael Kors’ Studio 54 disco-infused collection; Ralph Lauren; Veronica Beard’s joyous clothes, and Lela Rose’s presentation with a dog show.
Trend spotting: The Juliette sleeve; statement coats; color palettes of olives, moss and lodens, marine blues, lilacs and lavenders and mulberries; layering; dark florals; asymmetric tops and one-shouldered or one-sleeve dresses.
Talent scouting: Burnett — we’ll carry the furs. We haven’t been back to see the ready-to-wear this year.
Kudos to: Happily, we don’t have to have a conversation about the lack of diversity on the runways. Not only did we see all colors of skin, but it was wonderful to see women of different ages and sizes.
Jeffrey Kalinsky, designer fashion director of Nordstrom
Favorite collections: Sies Marjan’s explosions of color and print in easy shapes, The Row’s sophisticated luxe sensibility, Gabriela Hearst’s modern American sportswear, Marc Jacobs’ couturelike shapes and fabulous prints and Oscar de la Renta’s modern glamorous dresses.
Trend spotting: Simple, clean sportswear and tailoring is going to really ring the cash register and customers are going to love the burst of color and the prints, especially animal prints.
Customers’ mood: They’re definitely spending on emotionally desirable clothing.
Sarah Easley, founder of MaisonMarche
Favorite collections: Carolina Herrera, you could feel Wes Gordon’s confidence. He had big shoes to fill and he wasn’t meek; Sies Marjan was advanced fashion and super cool. Rosie Assoulin’s daywear; Jason Wu’s well-edited 22-look collection was very smart.
Trend spotting: Bold colors, oversize tailoring, ruffles, big volume and asymmetry.
Say goodbye to: Big shoulders. I’m not down with the look of pantsuits, they need more creativity.
Client mood: She’s absolutely willing to invest, but it needs to be either timeless, sophisticated and high-quality or love at first sight. My client feels she’s seeing the same brands and styles in stores. Many retailers haven’t changed, but consumers’ habits have changed.
How to improve New York Fashion Week: Talent would help. The former stars are the establishment now, and the big ones of the early Aughts are celebrating their 10-year anniversaries. Who’s next? We have to work to find them, and they have to work to make themselves known.
Durand Guion, group vice president of Macy’s Fashion
Favorite collections: Kate Spade, Jason Wu, Jeremy Scott, Coach, Anna Sui and Yuna Yang.
Trend spotting: Bold color, prints and colorblocking, leather dressing, lace and new iterations of animal prints.
Customer mood: She’s inspired by the start of a new season, especially wear-now early spring trends. Curation is key right now, as well as trend capsules that are easy to navigate.
Customer influences: Mix of celebrities, social media influencers and certain aspirational designers. Her peer group is a becoming a stronger influence on her fashion choices with Instagram establishing new style tribes.
How to improve New York Fashion Week: More quintessentially American trends across the collections, and more drops and collaborations during fashion week. Exclusive, collectible and resalable limited editions truly appeal to the core fashion consumer.
Linda Fargo, senior vice president of the fashion office and director of women’s fashion and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman
Favorite collections: There’s an important new guard [in New York], Gabriela Hearst, Deveaux and Khaite are joining the modernist sportswear ranks of The Row and Adam Lippes. Feel-good nostalgia for better times was felt at Michael Kors and Naeem Khan.
Trend spotting: Color, with unexpected joyful colors usually reserved for spring, and neutral shades, from camel to cognac, and lavenders and purples as well as chic monochrome dressing. Also, shine and men’s wear fabrics, suiting and the jacket.
Moments to remember: Deveaux’s beautiful cinematic presentation, which was warm, human and a world we wanted to inhabit. Adam Lippes inviting us “ home” for breakfast, conversation and clothes created a perfect personal context.
Must-have items: Fuzzy-wuzzy teddy bear coats, anything in python, leather dressing, real and vegan and faux furs.
How to improve New York Fashion Week: Did we miss Calvin [Klein], Rodarte and Altuzarra? Yes. Will we miss Spring Studios as fashion week’s hub next season? No.
Kelly Golden, founder of Neapolitan
Favorite collections: Carolina Herrera, Gabriela Hearst and Lela Rose.
Trend spotting: Daywear, knits and season-friendly fabrics.
Say goodbye to: Selfies
Must-have items: Gabriela Hearst’s double-faced cashmere coat.
How to improve New York Fashion Week: The season was lacking. It needs a major overhaul.
Jennifer Cuvillier, style director at Le Bon Marché
Favorite collections: Gabriela Hearst; The Row for their elegant wardrobe with a couture spirit in feminine suits and cozy looks; Proenza Schouler with their new hybrid pieces, and Zimmermann for beautiful autumnal feminine prints .
Trend spotting: Suits in the business couture spirit, and a walk on the wild side with crocodile to leopard to python to zebra on rtw and accessories.
Talent scouting: Co, from Los Angeles, which presented in New York a beautiful classic wardrobe with a twist — it’s super-elegant with great fabrics.
Must-have items: Knits in cozy neutral palettes, and the adventurer/explorer coat and trench.
Maria Milano, general merchandise manager for women’s wear at Harrods
Favorite collections: Oscar de la Renta’s and Carolina Herrera’s return to Old World New York elegance, executed in a modern way. I loved Oscar de la Renta’s rich parade of velvet gowns.
Trend spotting: Clean lines and tailoring at The Row, Gabriela Hearst and 3.1 Phillip Lim; elevated basics; nipped-in waist, and winter color, from rich jewel tones to mossy greens to saturated hues, as seen at Wes Gordon’s Carolina Herrera collection.
Talent scouting: We’ve picked up some great contemporary brands, including Nanushka, Staud and Rhode Resort.
Must-have items: Oscar de la Renta’s textural tweeds and Gabriela Hearst’s uberchic lineup of outerwear and fluffy knitwear — all covetable, but extremely wearable.
How to improve New York Fashion Week: New York has always been great for discovering contemporary labels and seeing some great street style on celebrities and influencers. It’s felt a little quieter on the show front lately.
Marina Larroudé, fashion director of Barneys New York
Favorite collections: Sies Marjan, Area and The Row.
Trend spotting: Suiting at Proenza Schouler, acid tropical colors at Sies Marjan and Prabal Gurung provided a fresh take on fall fashion, and textured coats from Ulla Johnson, Zero + Maria Cornejo and R13.
Must-have items: The Row’s boots, Proenza Schouler suits, Area party dress and Zero + Maria Cornejo jumpsuits.
Say goodbye to: Complicated multilayered looks on runways and in street style, which can seem messy and over-the-top.
Customer mood: They’re informed and know what they want. They are making conscious decisions and putting thought behind their purchases. They’re tapped into culture and are consuming information from multiple channels, from live runway shows on Instagram to Lady Gaga’s metallic look at the Grammys.
Talent scouting: Seeing new talents like Area finding their voice and growing their brand was exciting.
Mario Grauso, president of Holt Renfrew
Favorite collections: The Row’s most luxurious fabrics and beautifully tailored pieces with layering, Gabriela Hearst and Tom Ford men’s.
Trend spotting: Tailored outerwear in thick wools and cashmere; luxurious knits in camel and beige tones; shearling and trenchcoats; military dressing such as khaki coats and cargo pants paired with heavy-duty boots, and men’s wear-inspired suiting.
Say goodbye to: Juvenile prints should go away.
Must-have items: A floral-lined three-quarter-length Tory Burch puffer coat; The Row’s gray wrap shawl-collar belted long coat along with black white-soled boots; Khaite’s denim, and Gabriela Hearst’s knit sweaters and dresses.
Talent scouting: While we’ve had Khaite for a year, we were excited to see its first fashion show and how it has evolved.
Heather Shimokawa, vice president and fashion director for rtw at Bloomingdale’s
Favorite collections: Adam Lippes’ featherweight cashmeres, delicate day dresses and luxe outerwear; Sally Lapointe’s easy silhouettes and irresistible colors; Jonathan Simkhai’s layered knitwear, foulard prints and slipdresses and L’Agence’s Seventies elevated staples.
Trend spotting: All the great color for fall — the richness of nutmeg, caramel and coffee tones mixed with plums and marigolds.
Talent scouting: Tommy Ton’s sophomore collection was simply beautiful — modern, elegant daywear that felt grounded and real, and was brought to life in his perfectly cast presentation.
Must-have items: The blazer is a key item for fall, wide-leg and flared jeans.
Customer mood: We’re seeing tremendous energy on our floors lately. Customers have an insatiable appetite for newness, fashion and great trends.
Beth Buccini, owner and founder of Kirna Zabête
Favorite collections: Sies Marjan, Rosie Assoulin, Khaite and R13.
Trend spotting: Rich spring colors for fall, satin suiting, fake fur and colored leather.
Say goodbye to: Tent dressing, overly thick fabrications and overbranding on items.
Talent scouting: Markarian
Must-have items: Adam Lippes’ paisley pants, Sies Marjan’s rainbow knits, and the printed Rosie Assoulin gown.
Customer mood: Clients are definitely interested in buy-now-wear-now. Luckily, designers gave us many wonderful seasonless items.
How to improve New York Fashion Week: There’s plenty of talent in New York, just not enough financial support for all the wonderful designers. We need a more modern way to allow them to show their visions without breaking the bank.
Jyothi Rao, president of Intermix
Favorite collections: Ulla Johnson, Proenza Schouler, Jonathan Simkhai, Tibi and Zimmermann.
Trend spotting: New and fresh takes on animal prints from Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Ulla Johnson and Zimmermann; strong, but feminine tailoring; sleek knits layered with suits and belted waists from Proenza Schouler and Tibi.
Say goodbye to: It was refreshing to see florals not dominate the runways.
Talent scouting: We’re excited about Nanushka, which looked its best yet. It has an elevated aesthetic and its commitment to sustainability is a huge plus for our customer.
Must-have items: Leather had a strong moment this season, especially in the camel, cognac and olive color palette. A leather jacket, blazer or skirt in camel, cognac or olive, knits and outerwear and a metallic layering knit.
How to improve New York Fashion Week: Support emerging brands with resources and platforms to bring new design ideas to consumers, and focus on sourcing in a sustainable and socially responsible way.
Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director at Mytheresa.com
Favorite collections: Khaite; Cate Holstein’s wearable feminine, modern looks such as hand-painted zebra prints, silk dresses and whipstitch-detailed outerwear; Sies Marjan’s unexpected prints in soft silk; Self Portrait’s tailoring, and Zimmermann’s metallic outerwear with matching footwear.
Trend spotting: A wave of minimalist men’s wear tailoring, including Monse’s sharp silhouettes and layering; all-leather combinations, and head-to-toe looks from Sies Marjan and Zimmermann, which I’m already coveting.
Say goodbye to: Anything overly ostentatious. American fashion has a certain ease, it’s not always statement-making but more runway-to-street, which most appeals to our customers.
Talent scouting: Deveaux’s chic tailoring and Area’s playful aesthetic are on our radar.
Must-have items: Nanushka’s shell vinyl skirt worn under heavy outerwear; Sies Marjan’s all-leather suit; The Row’s oversized roll neck, in everything from silk to shearling; Staud’s Moon bag, and Khaite’s velvet puff-sleeve top.
Customer mood: We’re seeing huge investments in one-off runway pieces and other styles from luxury designers. Millennials, now in their 30s, want sophisticated and creative pieces. They’re not only buying mainstay labels, but new and contemporary brands.
Lisa Aiken, fashion director of Moda Operandi
Favorite collections: Our favorite collections this season had a beautifully understated approach to dressing include Khaite, Deveaux, Marina Moscone, Gabriela Hearst and The Row.
Trend spotting: Strong tailoring, elevated denim and knitwear with a twist. Animal prints, pastels, puffy sleeves, leather and modern heritage checks. High-glamour evening gowns and sexy cocktail dresses.
Talent scouting: Tomo Koizumi was quite a moment. He’s incredibly talented.
Must-have items: The Staud Moon bag – it’s great to see them move into new shapes; pantsuits and strong outerwear, especially shearling and long-line trenchcoats.
How to improve New York Fashion Week: The week was missing a few of the majors like [Alexander] Wang, Altuzarra and Calvin [Klein]; however, their departure on the calendar ushered in the opportunity for the likes of Khaite and Deveaux to become the new wave. Nothing was lacking, it’s a changing landscape. Also, more support and exposure for young designers. The industry got behind Tomo Koizumi and it received the attention it deserved. Those instances are very few and far between, and shouldn’t be.
Spark, or no spark: The week was missing majors like Alexander Wang, Altuzarra and Calvin Klein. Their departure created opportunities for the likes of Khaite and Deveaux. It’s a changing landscape in New York at the moment.
Nicole Fischelis, consultant and former group vice president and fashion director at Macy’s
Favorite collections: Derek Lam’s and Anna Sui’s color, Sally LaPoint’s modern luxury, and Zimmermann’s romanticism, Vera Wang’s art of craft, Three as Four’s extreme art, R13’s deconstructed flea market, John Elliott’s elevated streetwear, and Marc Jacobs’ couture mood, volume and craftsmanship.
Trend spotting: The fusion of streetwear, men’s wear and romanticism. Color influence, plaid and glen plaid remixed, spotted furs, winter floral, a ton of white and camel, and draping, sashing, wrapping and asymmetry, which Vera Wang did masterfully.
Must-have items: Pantsuits, romantic maxidresses, jumpsuits, slipdresses and parkas.
How to improve New York Fashion Week: There was a lot of repetition and lots of similarities in many of the collections. It was like a format. Also, major designers are showing elsewhere. Paris was always international. We surely missed Calvin Klein this season.
Kelly Wong, director of fashion at Lane Crawford
Favorite collections: Proenza Schouler’s layered, longer silhouettes, bold colorblocking, textured fabrics, plissé silhouettes and statement outerwear was directional, but still with lots of commercial options; Hellessy has come a long way with updated bestselling silhouettes, asymmetric tops and pants with skirt details.
Trend spotting: Cinched tailoring from The Row and Dion Lee; pantsuits; dresses over pants, which adds a unique finishing touch and elongates the silhouette, seen at The Row and Gabriela Hearst.
Must-have items: Asymmetric tops and knits add a quirky touch to your basic everyday essential.
Goodbye to: Allover logos, which are slowly disappearing.
Customer mood: Although celebrities still influence the way our customers shop, the number of micro influencers is on the rise, with different and unique points of view. To the customer they are more genuine and have more credibility.
How to help New York Fashion Week: Unfortunately, we saw similar trends, colors, shapes and silhouettes from many brands. We’re in need of new ideas and trends, especially new brands, to bring strength back to fashion week.
Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director, Net-a-porter
Favorite collections: Khaite, Nanushka, Red Carpet at Jason Wu, Adam Lippes, Deveaux, Gabriela Hearst and The Row.
Trend spotting: Beautiful new variations of tailoring, including longer jackets and coats with fitted waists at The Row; amazing cozy knits at Gabriela Hearst and Deveaux; Phillip Lim and Proenza Schouler’s new luxe, sport dressing, and I adored the vintage Frame belts and The Row’s chunky Chelsea boots, which we’ll be seeing everywhere come fall.
Talent scouting: Tommy Ton’s second Deveaux collection was sophisticated and elevated. I appreciated Commission’s thoughtfulness in dressing real women.
Must-have items: Color-block tie-dye sweaters and matching oversized scarf from Gabriela Hearst, a double-breasted jackets from The Row and handbag from Khaite.
Spark or no spark: New York Fashion Week succeeds in the mix of shows and presentations, which help to display many new designers. We love scouting talent at New York Fashion.