This Year, New York Fashion Week Goes Distanced and Digital

Photo by Doo Ri, courtesy of Flickr and Creative Commons.

What’s the point of fashion in a time of crisis? When there is nowhere to go, why bother getting dressed up? One would expect it to be frivolous to celebrate fashion week during a global pandemic, but while fashion week won’t solve the world’s problems, it certainly promotes creativity, self-expression, and, most importantly, fun. At New York Fashion Week 2020 (NYFW), designers showcased their Spring 2021 collections online via the “Runway 360” platform, and it provided me with a much-needed dose of beauty and glamour. Here are some of  the most show-stopping collections from NYFW. 

Electric pink, lime green, and bold yellow sprinkle some spring into Wu’s aesthetic, making his clothes bright and happy.

Taiwanese-Canadian designer Jason Wu kicked off NYFW, transforming the Spring Studio Terrace into an exotic oasis. Only thirty guests had the privilege of attending the outdoor show, but it was live-streamed for all to enjoy. What we saw on the runway weren’t the red carpet-ready gowns and tailored suits typical of Wu, but clothing with a casual, bohemian flare. His sensual bralette tops paired with oversized linen pants, unconfined skirts, and beach-ready maxi dresses remind us that fashion is about more than just sweatpants, and the future holds more promise than sitting on our couches. Electric pink, lime green, and bold yellow sprinkle some spring into Wu’s aesthetic, making his clothes bright and happy.

“Even if we don’t know when we might be able to wear them next, they made me hopeful,” Wu told Harper’s Bazaar. “I think the world needs beauty and optimism,” and that is exactly what his show embodied.

The designer’s goal is to provide regular work and sustainable economic development to women in small rural communities, proving that fashion can be both eye-popping and ethical.

In a similar vein,  Ulla Johnson proves that the fashion industry is capable of change. She seamlessly transformed the exclusive, traditional atmosphere of the catwalk into an inclusive, virtual one. The collection features hyper-feminine lace dresses and a white jumpsuit with magnificent drapery, and she juxtaposes pale tones of lilac, green, and blue with vibrant hues such as the orange of a thick leather belt. Most notable was the unique ornamental jewelry that was created by hand in partnership with artisans in Nairobi. According to Johnson’s e-commerce site, the brand works with small factories and artisans to produce high-quality jewelry while supporting developing communities. The designer’s goal is to provide regular work and sustainable economic development to women in small rural communities, proving that fashion can be both eye-popping and ethical. Johnson’s impeccable eye for detail and her unorthodox approach to accessories makes her the designer to watch out for this season.

His collection is an existential escape from reality…

More, Tom Ford’s Spring 2021 collection is representative of NYFW 2020 as a whole. It is innovative, flexible, and hopeful. The collection brought NYFW to a close with a digital presentation that spoke of a future filled with joy and fun. During these strange times, Ford understand that the road ahead is uncertain, but he is still optimistic. He began working on his Spring/Summer 2021 collection in the height of lockdown: a period when getting dressed up seemed almost pointless.

It is evident that Ford’s goal is not just to sell garments, but also to inspire others. His collection is an existential escape from reality, and the clothes evoke positivity by relying on familiar tropes: animal prints, 1970s glamour, and bright floral silhouettes. Ford also features small, minimalistic handbags, confirming that the tiny bag trend isn’t going away any time soon. I predict the silk trousers with logo waistbands will be the next fashion trend blowing up your Instagram feed. 

NYFW Online provided an alternative world of excitement and enchantment. Kudos to each designer for adapting to these unprecedented circumstances and allowing me to attend their show via my MacBook, sharply dressed in my sweatpants.

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