The last time the world saw
New York Fashion Week, it was back in February 2020. Buyers, editors, and influencers sat shoulder-to-shoulder, watching models walk the runway in the latest collections. Less than two weeks later, Fashion Week attendees were forgoing Milan and Paris shows in fear of catching the new coronavirus. And less than a week after Fashion Month concluded, New York City was nearing full lockdown.
As the world eases out of quarantine and into new restrictions that will guide everyone's everyday lives,
New York Fashion Week is back, but it looks quite different.
For the Spring 2021 season, only a few designers are hosting in-person shows and presentations, like Jason Wu, and they are strictly adhering to the guidelines put in place by the
New York governor. Others are opting for pre-recorded, pre-shot, or even live virtual presentations.
There is hardly any
street style, there is no backstage footage, and there are very few catwalks. Is this the new normal? Only time will tell. But for now, this is what New York Fashion Week looks like.
Taking a cue from European Menswear Fashion Weeks back in July, when designers such as
Jacquemus and Etro found new and different ways to present their collection in person, the fashion world is relentlessly adapting.
Ahead, see the Spring 2021 season of New York Fashion Week in pictures.
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Christian Siriano used his new home in Westport, Connecticut as the venue for his socially-distanced, in-person fashion show. The pool was the runway, as models strutting over bridges and through grass in a plethora of larger-than-life tulle confections, silk gowns, and bralettes worn with billowing skirts. The collection was inspired by Alicia Silverstone's character in the cult classic "Clueless" with formal interpretations of her signature plaid print look. Notably, Siriano enlisted a size-inclusive and diverse cast, as all designers should.
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Alice + Olivia’s Stacy Bendet used NYC as her runway, staging her Spring 2021 show on the street in the Meatpacking District.
Instead of a traditional runway show, she opted for a video and pop-up dance performance that appeared like a flash mob to whomever might be walking by.
There were ballerinas in silk midi skirts and feathered minis, a violinist wearing a color blocked skirt and printed face mask, and bold black and white looks that turned heads as much as the rainbow ones.
Tom Ford designed a Spring collection full of whimsical prints, easy silhouettes, and brightly colored makeup and accessories alike. He debuted it as a series of photographs that he is using as a conduit to bring joy to a country in quarantine. Inspired by models of the 1970s like Pat Cleveland, there are bold prints, luxe fabrics, and larger-than-life sunglasses galore.
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To encourage voter turnout, Tanya Taylor debuted a
video series titled, “Things That Take Longer Than Registering to Vote ."
Produced by Evan Jonigkeit, each episode features famous individuals performing mundane tasks (from folding laundry to playing fetch with a dog to watering the plants) that take longer than two minutes, which is how long Taylor estimates it takes to register to vote.
In addition, she has partnered with Action Button on her own retail website so that anyone can head there to directly register themselves as well.
Chromat opted out of a physical presentation, instead dropping a
short film by activist/filmmaker Tourmaline titled ‘Joy Run,' celebrating individuality and inclusivity, which has been part of the brand’s DNA since day one. The videos feature athletes, artists, ACLU lawyers, and more — of all sizes, races, and gender identities. Courtesy of Carolina Herrera
In lieu of a collection, Carolina Herrera creative director Wes Gordon debuted a film series called "The Conversation," during which he talked to Herrera herself about everything from design theories to art. The conversations were all filmed at Herrera's home and broken into four separate episodes for viewing.
PH5's designer Zoe Champion looked towards the Australian brushfires that were dominating headlines in January for inspiration. Not only is the whole collection sustainable, which works to lessen the likelihood of the fires in the first place, but it is also peppered throughout with fire references, like flames and bright red and orange tones. In lieu of an in-person presentation, PH5 chose to release a video on Runway360, modeled by members of "Firesticks Alliance", which is an Australian initiative working to control fires such as these.
To present her latest collection, Edie Parker forwent an in-person presentation in favor of a video that featured Lisa Rinna inspired by retro, slightly kitschy HSN infomercials. It was a fitting debut, as the collection is full of '90s nostalgia.
On the first full day of New York Fashion Week, Ralph Lauren tapped Chance the Rapper for a digital performance at the flagship store in the rapper's hometown of Chicago. Dressed head-to-toe in the brand, Chance delivered a dynamic set was pre-recorded and then streamed on his and
the brand’s social channels.
As fans awaited Chance's performance, Ralph Lauren created an interactive augmented reality waiting room for them on Snapchat. The virtual space boasted design inspired by Ralph Lauren and Chance, and various interactions they could "unlock" for a look back at Chance's storied career.
The "Sunday Candy" rapper has long been a fan of Ralph Lauren, even choosing the brand to design his tuxedo for his wedding to longtime girlfriend Kirsten Corley.
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Jason Wu was the one of the few designers to present a collection in-person to a socially-distanced crowd of 30 guests.
With the help of
Lowe's, he created a Tulum-like landscape, complete with sand, plants, and a winding boardwalk that acted as runway. The collection was rife with easy silhouettes — from midi dresses in bright yellow to cobalt blue knee-length shorts; crop tops and ethereal gowns alike.
Harlem’s Fashion Row celebrated its 13
th annual Style Awards on the first day of NYFW, with the theme “Black Is The New Black,” in celebration of Black creativity across all categories. With respect to social distancing guidelines, the entire event was pre-recorded and digital.
Last fall, designer Thakoon Panichgul brought back his namesake label in a direct-to-consumer manner. He could never have imagined what was to come, though he presented a collection this season that kept with the intentions he initially set for himself and his brand. Re-thinking his approach since Covid, however, this line looks more like the “old” Thakoon, integrating brighter colors, mixed prints, and eyelet textures.
Markarian debuted a collection shot in lookbook form. In a press release from the brand, they noted “Working from home and small gatherings are not going anywhere anytime soon, nor is the mentality of comfortable dressing. We took that way of thinking and need for comfort and turned it into something that rang true to Markarian’s heritage and what we do best.”
The Tibi Spring 2021 collection was not presented, instead shown to editors via high-res images.
Designer Amy Smilovic of Tibi crafted a line that “balances [the] love of humor, modernity, and desire for a bit of nostalgia that our small team is craving.” In it are mix-and-match pieces that hold her signature youthful tailoring, while still feeling appropriate for the new socially-distant world.
A model walked the runway for Salisa at Flying Solo wearing a Pilar Macchione mask. Getty Images
New York Fashion Week again showcased young, independent designers to watch through the Flying Solo show. This year, it was presented with a truncated guest list, socially-distanced and outside.