Tadashi Shoji says he’s getting old and that’s the inspiration for his collection. Someone should have told him that being old and creating a youthful collection seems somewhat the opposite of what happens when you do get old. No matter, Shoji for Spring 2016 went heavy on floral patterns and embroidery to great effect and ended up with a collection that shows a versatility in gown design but also a nod to the love of sheer fabrics. The sheer fabrics have been everywhere during awards season and with the celebrities that have loved Shoji’s creativity in that regard. Shoji though has been strategic for Spring 2016, hiding the feminine form and showing just enough. Maybe that’s what he meant by being older. So when you have highlights that include a maxi skirt with sheer diamond design in a teal/white, a kimono style sheer floral embroidered coverup, a floral embroidered dress with short sleeves where the black prints extend past the hem of the dress, you know Shoji is mining his past, but with a stern look of what’s to come. Keep getting old Mr. Shoji, we love what it is doing for your collections.
The youthful Rebecca Minkoff audience is the envy of many a designer. That youthful audience never leaves you (or so you hope) and as they get older they continue on being the audience that has come to look to your new developments every season. For Spring 2016, Minkoff doesn’t abandon her roots as a designer that understands what her fans want. She espouses a love of mod with short hemlines and gladiator shoes and Lucite heels as well as maxi tank dresses. They all came in strong tones of black and ivory and cream. She also had extensive slits in her dresses that were tied in with lace hoops whether functional or purely for aesthetics, it worked to great effect. One would be mistaken to assume that the mod influence was 60s inspired. It may be that that’s the case, but the look is decidedly modern and refreshing especially done with the laced up slit. Just an FYI, that leather jumper is a favorite in the offices here, eliciting a bunch of oohs, when it came up on the big screen.
What, no show? Oh Nonoo!! But wait, Misha Nonoo, may have just figured out what others in fashion are still figuring, social media means that viral collection shows best when you control the initial message. What was the initial message? I am doing it my way. Nonoo showed off this light but nearly gender neutral collection via social media and the word spread on and on. Shot with a bit of a horizontal effect, Nonoo displayed a-line skirts, coveralls and culottes with summer separates. There’s this parochial school pinafore with boxy pleating and sundresses that all felt as if Nonoo was sending a well-crafted message about the direction of Spring 2016. Is it a departure from her previous collections, sure, will it work? The social media darlings are saying she’s already there.
The design duo of Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne have been the talk of New York fashion week for plunging into the deep end of womenswear and performing swimmingly. The Fall 2016 collection was about showing how the mens and womenswear collection could live in the same place, with the same fabric and continue to thrive. In execution they seemed to perform that well. Spring 2016 in our opinion follows the same ethos but there’s still a bit of a split that’s evidenced by the execution. Highlights include a long flowing white suit with a plugin v-neckline, a belted deep blue double breasted trench, a short tennis skirt in deep blue with white lining and undertones, a boxy white red and gray top and a sheer striped dress. The two have essentially created a collection that is sleek, feminine and what seems to be a slow and lingering departure from the staunchly male aesthetic that was seen in the previous collection. It may not have been their intent in previous collections but that definitely seems that direction at this snapshot in time.
There is a decidedly athletic look to Alexander Wang’s Spring 2016 collection and its definitely with purpose. The striped trousers in grey and black is a fashion lover’s dream due to its versatility.The striped jacket with same colors paired with belted shorts and a crop shirt is serious and New York urban chic as well. This is no Balenciaga folks, this is the eponymous brand that attaches no theme, no overarching statement, just Alexander Wang as he is. Another highlight was a white side slit dress with multi-fringed layering and netted bra underneath. All of these pieces were paired with variations of designer athletic footwear or sandals that espoused an ease uncommon in these high end forays. It could be that Wang’s direction post-Balenciaga is to just be free and in doing so, he’s being himself. 10 years later, keeping the party going is a powerfully sexy collection.
If you don’t understand how much of a consummate designer Mara Hoffman is and the versatility she has then you didn’t attend her Swim showing in Miami at the Versace mansion and the two months later see her Spring 2016 collection. The two collections couldn’t be more diametrically opposed. The swim show was sexy, revealing and honestly refreshing compared to others. The Spring 2016 ready to wear Mara Hoffman collection is less sexy and more natural. It is more feminine and softer though there’s been this boyish influence in the past. That is not equating the two as in collusion but complementary. Her blue skies, cloud print suits were a nod to Willie Nelson (playing the background), the shirtdress effort was sexy and the layering provided just enough detail and led to pants that were wide legged and apropos of the entire look. Her Spring 2016 direction is off from her swim collection and that’s what you want to see in a designer, a versatility that speaks to ability and creativity.
Nearly 10 years ago we interviewed Carin Rodebjer when she was in her nascent stages of New York design life. Our editor at the time asked her where she saw herself 10 years from that point. She answered that it would be fun to show a full collection and be clearer with her design. Fast forward nearly 10 years later and it looks as if Rodebjer has accomplished that and then some. Her Spring 2016 collection is evidence in motion. White silk reflected light, diaphanous silk dresses amplified model movement, culottes that looked excellent on longer legs due to the strides involved. Her collection is Stockholm meeting New York with the latter’s urban bent coming through more than the former. The prints designed by Liselotte Watkins also aided the lively movement that was ubiquitous from the collection. If you haven’t been exposed to Carin Rodebjer’s collections, take notes, she’s evolving into a powerhouse in the industry.
Watching most of the shows both in-person and through the live casts its been interesting in the sense that in the past you could allude to an era for inspiration. Either 70s, 80s or even 20s have been reflected on as the source of an aesthetic. That’s been absent until viewing Nicole Miller’s latest collection. The Spring 2016 collection has a decidedly 80s feel. With the graffiti print dress and grating displayed on denim and dresses it seems as if Miller was channeling a look of the real 80s. If one remembers the dresses of Miami Vice, it’s easy to see that extensive use of vibrant colors and prints were the hallmarks. Yes, it was Madonna, but the care free indulgence of the 80s meant thinking in abstract both in terms of design and color. Miller replicates that feeling here with sheath dresses and gowns but with scribbling and abstract looking writing and characters. Floral is Miller’s strengths and she doesn’t abandon that for grit as you get a healthy dosing of that as well. It’s a solid effort for Miller fans (of which there are many).
How minimal is “Chinatown” when a myriad of colors is introduced that may or may not have much to do with Chinatown. Don’t tell that to Katie Gallagher, whose Spring 2016 collection took a life on its own. Whether its aptly named is of no import because it is a solid collection for the season that takes notes silk and applies them onto slip dresses, a halter apron in solid black that shifted with a sinewy grace, a sheer dress that highlighted the designer’s ability to show versatility and let’s mention colors as well. The black, gold and red parts of the collection consisted of the heart of what was shown gold oversized trousers are less statement and more the way forward for this season from Gallagher. An oversized ¾ jacket in white over a one piece in deep red matched with red sandals made this collection decidedly eastern inspired with a New York bent. You may be wearing a piece from Katie Gallagher in the Spring and not realize its intent, but no matter, the sharp, yet minimal styling will be all the intent that’s needed.
Jill Stuart’s uber feminine foray is a lesson to other designers in the womenswear field: make it comfortable and chic or don’t make it at all. Stuart’s collection for Spring 2016 consists of an array of satin dresses skirts and blouses that look so effortless in practice, but is easily understood as difficult in process. Looking effortless probably means that some painstaking design came into play. For us we’re treated with a multi-course meal for the eyes and frame. When you see a floral print patterning there’s purpose behind the design. When you see satin culottes in high rise configuration you get the emphasis on the feminine form. When you see a floral gown with multiple tiers you get that Stuart is addressing the feminine form in ways unlike others. You get that from a certain perspective, the Spring 2016 collection can be appreciated by many (get past the pricetag) but is targeted towards an audience that knows the art within fashion.