Coming home is what this year's fashion week felt like to me. Coming home to physical shows, to creative brilliance and a sense of pride and joy. Although creative brilliance was at its best even when the shows were digital, confirming the age-old fact that necessity is the mother of all invention, the return of physical shows has been nothing less than a celebration.
The big names that always put up a stunning show turned heads no doubt, but it was the debutants and newcomers at this year's fashion week, who really caused a stir.
Upcycled fabrics, paying homage to their traditional roots, and bringing back attention to the core values, is the beginning of what new age fashion and luxury is evolving into.
What we see on runways is a foray into what's next for fashion, and almost always a reflection of the zeitgeist of the time.
From Rochas’ bold impact with vibrant prints and colours, to Balmain’s democratic approach at the Paris Fashion week, the celebration and the evolution of culture was evident in the air - a mix of the old and new. International Vogue editors who once filled the front rows at PFW were not seen this time because of the restructuring and consolidation of power in the hands of Anna Wintour, global editor. It remains to be seen how this drastic change in autonomy will turn out for Vogue, and the industry overall.
Weinsanto, who debuted at PFW, paid homage to Alsace, where he is from, with a twist on local costumes and dance - a moment in fashion storytelling indeed.
Joy Meribe’s collection, inspired by the ‘desire for serenity, joy and prosperity’ in fresh hues of turquoise and yellow silk, was a delightful picture of a serene African village. Joy, who is a newcomer, and showcased at Milan Fashion Week SS22, is the first graduate from the Black Lives Matter collective that was established in September 2020.
Labrum, a utilitarian menswear brand is on a mission to bridge the gap between the west and West Africa. ‘Designed by an immigrant’ as the tagline reads, it is a proud story of celebrating the style and culture brought to Britain in the 70s by Caribbean and African immigrants. British tailoring with West African accents is an untold story that was new and exciting at the London Fashion Week.
Nensi Dojaka who made a solo runway debut at London Fashion Week, showcased her signature style of fusing lingerie and daywear. (Like I said earlier, many newcomers caused a stir). The right mix of sexuality and temptation tailored to a refined taste, Nensi calls it 'light and positive'. An interesting take on versatile daywear indeed. Having support from celebrities never hurts and Nensi, who was the winner of the LVMH Prize for Young Designers 2021 earlier this year, has had her designs worn by many celebrities like Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Sophie Turner to name a few.
In stark contrast was Yuhan Wang's collection of floating delicate silhouettes and floral patterns, a whimsical and romantic affair. There was something familiar and new about this Central Saint Martins student’s collection that was delicate and feminine but held together with belting and harnessing. An embodiment of what it means to be a woman, a beautiful mix of softness and determined vigour.
“The collection is about women's power, mentally as well.” - Yuhan Wang
Peter Do’s fluidly elegant and relaxed tailored fits were delightfully refreshing as they were a sign of exciting times of heading back to the office. Not just the office, but out and about in the world. He compares making the SS22 collection to making a hearty home cooked bowl of pho with his father - hard work mixed in with a lot of patience.
Saint Sintra has been called a ‘radically optimistic’ brand that debuted at NYFW. It was reminiscent of all things magical and sparkly, and a burst of energy.
“The message is chaos, total chaos. I’m really interested in the cusp of where things become uncanny, where they’re no longer familiar but they’re still comfortable.” - Sintra Martins
I for one believe in the magic of chaos.
Deity, who debuted on the NYFW runway is a brand that symbolises power, confidence and the ‘goddess within each woman’. The focus is on fabric weight, opacity, volume, and clean cut silhouettes. Coming from a family of seamstresses and self proclaimed fashionistas, Bishop, the designer, inherited sewing skills, attention to detail and a sense of artistry. The confidence to really start her label came from her late grandmother, a confident matriarch and talented seamstress.
The mother-daughter design duo behind the House of Aama are storytellers, sharing nuanced narratives of the past, creating worlds and characters from historical figures. Working on a made-to-order model and using organic fabrics since its founding, the brand is a beautiful composition of using the past of folklore and personal stories to create modern apparel.
The designer’s collection is their story and therein lies the authenticity and beauty of it. All the shows, themes and conversations today are about fashion shaping business, culture and identity.
The 90s chicness is back in 2021- reimagined. The awakening around feminism, racism, gender equality and identity is loud and active. Designers from diverse backgrounds showcase their roots proudly. The meaning of expression and existence is redefined. The smaller brands and designers are a true and authentic reflection of the culture of a place. Carving out a niche, they are a superpower.
Fashion is not just about making clothes, it has been an art of self expression since its inception and is now making its way back home.