Last November, when Thom Browne was elected as the Council of Fashion Designers of America chair (succeeding Tom Ford), he promised guidance and support for a new generation of American talent. The Spring/Summer 2024 New York Fashion Week calendar expressed that commitment with few heritage houses showing stateside and an emphasis on emerging talent.
The show that kicked off the packed schedule on Friday, September 8, was the highly anticipated debut of Vietnamese-born designer Peter Do at Helmut Lang, where he has taken the reins after the minimalist brand went years without a creative director. On Monday, Shao Yang presented the debut collection of her namesake label Shao, teaming up with publicist Kelly Cutrone and Anna “Delvey” Sorokin to show on the rooftop of the fake heiress’ Lower East Side residence, where she remains under house arrest. Hot on the heels of her much talked about New York Times profile, the controversial yet celebrated young designer Elena Velez aimed to make audiences uncomfortable with a mud pit runway show that devolved into a wrestling match inside a Williamsburg warehouse.
A heavy late summer heatwave and thundershowers did not dampen enthusiasm for the presentations, which were scattered across the city from Roosevelt Island, where attendees took the tramway to watch Prabal Gurung, to Park Avenue for the presentation of Proenza Schouler and back to the Brooklyn Grange for a rooftop runway show by Collina Strada. There was the notable return to the calendar of Ralph Lauren, and 3.1 Phillip Lim, who showed at the crossroads of Chinatown, as well as the 10th anniversary collection of designer Rio Uribe’s label Gypsy Sport and Christian Siriano’s 15th anniversary presentation.
“This is the story of the uniform through fabric and how everything changes when the fabric changes,” announced creative director Jeffrey Kalinsk from the top of the runway, where he stood narrating the looks. The outfits, largely monochromatic with lots of A-line silhouettes, were a study in quiet luxury by way of ’90s minimalism. Modern suiting in charcoal and navy wool made way to oat and tortoiseshell print separates. All white outfits seemed fit for a country club, while the same silhouettes executed in sequined and silver metallic fabrics morphed into chic evening looks.
3.1 Philip Lim
Phillip Lim, the New York-based designer who always had a knack with combining the casual with the chic, leaned further into loungewear during lockdown. Now, four years since his last NYFW presentation, he’s made a triumphant return to the runway with a collection that included evening wear in the form of full-length flowing black chiffon dresses with matching opera gloves. “We took some time off the calendar to reflect on why we kept showing without truly showing up,” Lim wrote in the show notes. The presentation, which took place in a commercial space in Chinatown, paid homage to Lim’s heritage in subtle ways like opening looks that featured sheer mesh Mary Janes referencing Chinese slippers.
“As designers, commerce for commerce’s sake doesn’t make sense to us,” Jack McCollough, co-founder and designer of Proenza Schouler along with Lazaro Hernandez, told Fashionista. “But we can’t have creativity for creativity’s sake, either. As designers, we’re producing something for someone to wear.” This SS24 season, did they ever deliver. The covetable yet wearable garments included monochromatic separates and dresses made of fabric so airy they practically floated down the runway, and dramatic fishnet macrame dresses. Slouchy low-slung black wool trousers were accessorized with leather hip packs, some pants featured a double waistband with leather or denim rising above belt loops for a layered look. It was also this season that the brand’s first monogram was introduced: two Ps that come together to form an S. The quiet design, incorporated into knitwear and new shoulder bags, is said to have taken three years and 9,000 iterations to produce. It girls Sofia Richie Grainge, Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri were among those in attendance at the presentation held at the Phillips auction house on Park Avenue — “where art comes to be judged on its commercial viability,” said McCollough.
Bows, rosettes, ruffles and square-toed ballet flats remained recurring themes in Sandy Liang’s SS24 collection. This season, the NY-based designer examined the dress codes of uniform dressing among groups of girls and women. “They don’t realize how beautiful they are when they’re standing together,” Liang told Vogue Runway. She was particularly inspired by Sophia Coppola’s directorial debut The Virgin Suicides after which her Y2K-infused presentation, held in the garden of the Cooper Hewitt Museum, was named.
Under Dion Lee, workwear takes on a whole new look. “This season was primarily about evolving the utility and construction language I’ve been playing with until now,” he said at a preview for his SS24 collection. There were coveralls, high fashion looks accessorized with tool belts, studs had the look of screwheads. Of course there was double denim, some pieces shiny from lamination. Finally, there was a pair of pants featuring an outlet where its brand patch should have been. A coiled safety orange extension cord, which the model carried over the shoulder like a handbag, was plugged in.
The wide architectural shoulders on the blazers, trenches and overcoats make sense when you read what the brand’s founder, creative director and designer Catherine Holstein told Vogue Runway backstage at her SS24 presentation in the Park Avenue Armory. “I think every woman in New York has to handle herself with a real fearlessness,” she said. And so Holstein referenced the power dressing of the 1970s and ’80s when women in the fight for equality were armouring themselves to enter the workplace.
Hosted at the Plaza Hotel, the brand’s SS24 show Cruising in the Rose Garden presented a new romantic vision for menswear: lace-trimmed camisoles, corsets, babydoll dresses and ruffled lace negligees were boudoir inspired, while the denim micro shorts with snap closure codpieces and leather separates referenced Tom of Finland’s work. The women’s looks, floral knits, handbags and jewellery were part of a collaboration with Spanish brand Bimba Y Lola that centred the rose. Sex and romance was in the air with models instructed to lock eyes with someone in the audience during their walk down the runway. “They were cruising at the Plaza!” designer Alejandro Gómez Palomo told Office Magazine.
The NY-based designer’s 10th anniversary collection was a celebration. Guests enjoyed pizza and Assoulin’s Vivanterre natural wine as models walked the runway in joyful looks that showcased Assoulin’s superb sense of colour and scale.
Everything sucks. We’re all doomed. The world’s on fire, but we’re doing a fashion show because that’s what we know how to do,” Hillary Taymour, founder and creative director of Collina Strada, told Vogue Runway a few days before her SS24 presentation. We always expect the unexpected from the brand, and their SS24 show ‘Soft is Hard’ was no exception. Inspired by the ‘This is fine’ meme, models walked the runway with forced smiles and clenched fists while Oyinda’s operatic lyrics “Why are we here, the earth’s on fire” blasted through speakers atop the roof of the Brooklyn Grange. Created in collaboration with Artificial Intelligence, the collection featured pattern mixing with delicate organza tops, satin blazers, velvet bustiers, and frayed denim that had us double-taking the entire show.