Christian Siriano Spring 2021

Christian Siriano’s spring 2021 collection has everything, well almost. And when I say everything, I mean everything. From pouf sleeves to feathers, to light spring tweeds to straw hats, to midriffs to va va voom, this spring 2021 collection has almost everything a stylish woman wants.

For a decade now, Christian Siriano has been giving ladies what they want, and sometimes what they want before they even know they want it. Hmm, didn’t Dian Vreeland say that? Anyway, Siriano always has his fingers on the pulse of what women want to wear. And even though the silhouettes and styles may change, one thing holds constant. Women want to be stylish and sexy. That does not change, and Christian Siriano gives that to his consumer, full frontal!!

In this time of a health pandemic lockdown, consumers need something to dream about and aspire to. Siriano gives us the dreams in this collection. That said; this spring 2021 collection was a throwback moment; a throwback vintage moment in homage to the 1980s and 90s. We are talking padded shoulders, midriffs, jazz pants, lingerie as outerwear, poufy sleeves and skirts, you name it, it is all thrown in—mostly tasteful—in this 80s and 90s hodgepodge. And for the most part it works.

Siriano’s fashion flashback was inspired by some of his favorite films— “Clueless,” “Wizard of Oz,” “Troop Beverly Hills,” and “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter Is Dead.” And is made evident in this collection. And this collection worked so beautiful on the grounds of Siriano’s new home in Westport, Connecticut.

Post-show Siriano explained his inspiration, as reported in vogue.com, “I like that, because [the films] reminded me of when I was growing up wanting to be a fashion designer—that’s kind of what inspired everything.” This collection demonstrates that Siriano has made his dreams come true!!

If there was one drawback to this spring 2021 collection, it was in the construction of some of the garments. There were several garments that looked a bit under-constructed. It is obvious that in some instances Siriano was going for a more minimalist aesthetic; however, the construction of some of the clothing was a bit off, and is some instances looked elementary, at best. Perhaps, that was due to the not having a much access to the garment factories due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever the reason, the construction of some of the garments needs to be bumped up.

Images courtesy of Dan Lecca/vogue.com

Standout looks in this collection include, but are not limited to, the red and white tweed midriff halter paired with red and white full ballgown skirt, black column gown with padded shoulders with the words vote imprinted throughout, diaphanous black organza gown with black floral embellishments.  And of course, you cannot leave out the matching masks.

—William S. Gooch

Thalé Blanc Spring 2021

As many fashion brands are hunkering down, retracting their fashion lines and collections, and only doing what is necessary to keep their fashion brands afloat, there are those few brave souls who see this new normal as an opportunity to test the waters. Thalé Blanc is one such fashion brand.

Known for their luxury handbags, for spring 2021 Thalé Blanc has decided to test the waters and dip their creative hands in the pool of women’s ready-to-wear. A bold move at any time, but especially during this retracting time in the market. And the courage to show your debut collection, Thalé Blanc Statements, during New York Fashion Week (NYFW) when so many brands opted out or simply went digital is indeed a gutsy endeavor.

“With Thalé Blanc Statements, I set out to give today’s modern woman, who is as likely to be a corporate executive or actor as she is to be a mother or philanthropist, a new version of what is quintessentially thought of as the ‘LA Look’,” says Deborah Sawaf, creative director of Thalé Blanc. “Think Hollywood meets music meets fashion … it’s a new LA-vibe … a basic with a serious twist that leaves people saying, ‘YOU look beautiful!’”

And from the looks of this collection that goes beyond seasons, not only will female consumers look and feel beautiful, female consumer will powerful, bold, and badass!! This collection is not for the shy of heart, of for those shrinking violets who want to hide in a corner and not be noticed. No sir, this spring 2021 collection is that warrior goddess is ready to her world by storm.

Sawaf’s couturier touches which are synonymous with her Thalé Blanc handbag collection were evident throughout the collection of dresses, coats, tops, skirts, pants, and vests.  Thoughtful detailing like quilted panels along with logo and verbiage printed taping provided sporty edginess that married flawlessly with higher end touches like the most luxurious fabrications in the market today and whimsical plays on proportion that are more commonly seen in the efforts of her avant-garde European counterparts.

Images courtesy of VERY New York

“Every woman is a statement by her very being and what better way to pay tribute to women than by having my collection be a part of my customers’ everyday personal statement,” explained Sawaf. Aptly said, and a perfect name for a collection for women who are unapologetically empowered with clothes that reflect that sense of purpose and confidence!!

William S. Gooch

 

 

 

Imitation of Christ Spring 2021

Imitation of Christ (IOC) was founded in 2000 by Tara Subkoff and Matt Damhave. The pair quickly scored Chloë Sevigny as its first creative director. The label made a huge splash beginning as an art collective and evolving into a fashion line, IOC was called the original upcycler creating pieces entirely from recycled pieces of clothing. Soon Mary-Kate Olsen, Scarlett Johansson, and Maya Rudolph counted among fans.

But the early aughts were a tumultuous time for many fashion houses. IOC’s output was sporadic at best, before ceasing production in 2013. Now two decades after being founded, IOC is rising again with Subkoff handing design reins over to three young designers she mentored.

“These are supercharged creative young artists who had something to say and needed a platform during an incredibly challenging time on the planet,” Subkoff said in a statement. IOC has a new business model and an iron-fist commitment to sustainability.  Upcycling or “resurrecting” existing pieces is the central tenet of Imitation of Christ, and it means that every piece is unique. With the theme of athleticism, Subkoff describes the clothes as “glamorous activewear,”. Subkoff said she was inspired by seeing young women practicing tricks at a skatepark after watching them fall, get back up, and try again until they nailed the trick.  Creative directors Lola Valenti Roberts, Tessa Crockett, and Violet Baudin Lackey created the line mixing glamour with wearability and sustainability.

Only eight looks were shown on a video that featured models skateboarding in the outfits. The clothes were hand sewn from upcycled items. This does lead to some unevenness in terms of color stories and textures, but the general theme of glamour and comfort remain. Some of the combinations were solid.

A stunning brown velvet dress combined with satin sport jersey is a glamorous easy to wear juxtaposition. However, a strapless-tiered prom dress not only looked hopelessly dated, but seemed to undermine the message of the video as the model seen in still shots skateboarding with ease but struggled to move in the voluminous dress. 

Still the patchwork color blocking—so on-trend right now—mixed with Asian touches was done with a deft touch making the separates fun, wearable, and easily incorporated into existing wardrobes. Presenting a video is becoming more common in the age of COVID-19, but another huge difference with IOC is marketing. Typically, most NYFW samples are never mass produced for market and die a slow death in the bottom of storage trunks—aside from a lucky few that are plucked directly from the runway by eagle-eyed stylists.

Images courtesy of Imitation of Christ

But with IOC’s focus on sustainability, they are trying something new. All eight outfits presented in the video will be for sale on The Real Real, a favorite website of Subkoff’s for finding sustainable designer items, with proceeds from the sales going to Black Lives Matter, COVID Relief, and Fridays For Future, Greta Thunberg’s organization.

It will be interesting to see how the public will respond. While the clothes themselves and online bidding will certainly appeal to the youthful consumers that IOC is aiming for, the price point establishes IOC as a luxury brand well beyond the means of most millennials. That said; with a limited amount of stock, even if only a few thousand people are regular buyers with a global reach, that could be more than enough to keep the brand afloat. 

—Cameron Grey Rose

Jason Wu Spring 2021

Jason Wu had the distinction of being a fashion brand to stage a  runway show in New York City since the city shut down for the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the bar was set high for the designer to give us even just a morsel of the glamour that New York’s fashion scene has been longing for. For spring 2021, Wu was inspired by Tulum, Mexico. He wanted to create a collection that was reminiscent of bright, tropical hues and recalled happy memories, because most of us could use memories of better days right now.

There had long been a quintessential sophistication to Jason Wu’s customer. It was a class act approach to style that was fitting for a man who quickly became a household name after former First Lady Michelle Obama wore one of his eveningwear pieces for President Obama’s inauguration. However, Wu decided to go in a different direction than he has before and explored the more casual side of the Jason Wu woman.

The spring 2021 runway show also marked the first runway collection for Jason Wu’s contemporary-priced line, a more affordable offering compared to his Jason Wu collection line. In a world where normal life has been uprooted, the democratization of fashion appears to be a trending topic again, meaning how can it be possible to give more people access to fashion? There is also the question of what is fashion’s purpose right now? While the world might quite literally be burning–thoughts and prayers to those affected in California–fashion can still give people something to celebrate. As something always looking toward the future, fashion is representative of hope.

From the first look, modeled by “Pose” actress Indya Moore, Wu stated fashion can be a literal vacation from our problems. The rust-colored maxi dress in a relaxed silhouette was bright and cheerful and great for breaking the ice of the pandemic spell. Tunic tops, pleated skirts, cashmere bras, and Bermuda shorts all gave a “let’s go to the beach and getaway” vibe as we hope by the time this collection hits stores, we can be planning tropical vacations again.

Ephemeral dresses with modern floral prints rounded out the typical spring tropes. Summer may have just left us, but this collection left us longing for it again.

Images courtesy of Jason Wu

While it has been questioned if Jason Wu still has the same mojo he had during Michelle Obama’s tenure as First Lady, he’s found a new voice for himself. With the luxury market taking a hit, it was best Wu focus on his contemporary line. Wu may have found a little bit of the magic the fashion industry needs, the kind of magic that will hopefully see brighter days ahead.

Kristopher Fraser

Anne Klein Spring 2021

In case you didn’t know, Anne Klein was one of the pioneers of classic American sportswear. Anne Klein’s brand became popular as more American women were entering the workforce.

After Coco Chanel, Anne Klein was one of the first designers to adapt menswear silhouettes for women, eventually creating the first separates for women. And with these separates, women could devise a range of combinations of clothing. “Her first introduction of separates changed American [fashion] and liberated the way women dressed forever. She was the first to create sophisticated styles in all sizes, for all ages, true today as the brand serves all women all over the world,” explained Jesse Gre Rubinstein, Anne Klein’s daughter.

By the late 1960s, Anne Klein’s clothing was sold in over 750 stores and boutiques. When Klein died of breast cancer in 1975, Donna Karan, who was one of her lead designers, took over the brand until Karan launched her own eponymous fashion house. For over forty years after Anne Klein’s death the brand has continued in one form or another, with Anne Klein & Co. taken over by The Jones Group in 2003, and in 2019 taken over by WHP Global.

Anne Klein’s spring 2021 collection is the first time the brand has been shown during New York Fashion Week (NYFW) for several years.  Anne Klein once famously said, “Clothes won’t change the world, the women who wear them will.” And this spring 2021 collection is directed to women who are empowered to realize their potential.

True to form there were lots of separates in this collection and also on brand was this collection’s concentration on garments that work equally at work or for a quiet night on the town. And though there are some well-designed separates in this collection, there were no surprises. Without that special garment or that eye turner, this spring 2021 collection is almost an updated vintage homage to the Anne Klein of the early 1970s.

Images courtesy of Atelier PR

And though there was value in this return to NYFW, one wonders in a time when most working women are working from home, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, why the brand would concentrate so much on working or office clothes.

That said; what does work is that this spring 2021 collection is beyond seasons. There are garments that work for fall and spring. Add to that the size inclusiveness of this collection, this Anne Klein spring 2021 collection should appeal to a significant number of consumers. Anne Klein is back!!

—William S. Gooch

Alice + Olivia Spring 2021

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” The infamous words of legendary artist Andy Warhol ring true right now as the fashion industry continues to grapple with change and the reckoning of COVID-19 pandemic. While New York Fashion Week (NYFW) did look very different this season, with the majority of shows going digital, fashion designers still found a reason to celebrate and look forward to brighter and more stylish days ahead.

Stacey Bendet, designer of Alice + Olivia, presented a literal dancing celebration of New York’s creative industries during a time of change. The collection took a sporty, bohemian vibe and was presented through a live socially distanced performance in Manhattan’s Meatpacking neighborhood.

The dance performance was choreographed by Ebony Williams,  lead dancer of the now defunct Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, a featured dancer in Beyoncé’s videos, and the choreographer for upcoming film adaptation of “In The Heights.” By using dancers for this presentation Bendet  showed the functionality and movement quality embedded in athleisure wear.

Alice + Olivia is well known for featuring tons of color and prints but going the athleisure route didn’t lead to the brand deviating too much from their usual aesthetic. Fresh-printed sweatshirts were paired with sweeping skirts, hoodies were layered under chic blazers, and track pants had toggle bottoms.

The color palette was a retro rainbow, an ode to 1970s fashion, embracing an “anything goes” attitude, and embracing both the gritty and creativity of  1970s New York City. Graphic pink tie dye and bohemian florals were combined in a world of burgundy, ruby red, jade green, goldenrod yellow.

Images courtesy of Alice + Olivia

Bold outerwear pieces were fit for outdoor dining on cool nights and maxi wool coats were glorified with maximalist prints. One standout outerwear piece was a reversible canvas and denim coat that gave structured juxtaposition to more relaxed looks.

As athleisure continues to have some standing in the fashion industry, particularly during this COVID-19 pandemic with people wanting more comfortable pieces as they continue to work from home, Alice + Olivia’s pivot to a sportier look is a welcome pivot. New York’s creative scene continues to inspire the brand, and the city is still happy to be home to this cheerful consumer-friendly brand.

—Kristopher Fraser

MAXHOSA Spring 2021

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, South African-based brand MAXHOSA presented their spring 2021 collection “INGUMANGALISO IMISEBENZI KA THIXO” or “God’s Work is Miraculous.” Designer Laduma Ngxokolo notes that the collection takes its name from a song composed by his grandfather Mike Ngxokolo, a renowned jazz artist, choral music composer, visual artist, actor, and radio presenter. Laduma further explains that the collection is the most colorful and exotic collection he has designed to date and represents a new dawn and excitement about the upcoming South Africa summer season. Laduma states “We have to be hopeful about reaching the light at the end of the tunnel because we have realized that happiness is a new luxury.”

The collection is resplendent with virtually every color of the rainbow. The clothes stay true to the company’s Xhosa roots by incorporating Xhosa beadwork patterns, symbolism, and colors into modern knitwear in zigzag and graphic prints. The spring 2021 collection exemplifies the duality of cultural reverence and contemporary relevance by offering a wide range of clothing from knitted full-length dresses and wrap skirts to shirts and cardigans. The collection also seems to pay homage to other regions of the African diaspora by coupling modern-print designs with traditional Shweshwe prints from South Africa, Aso-oke striped patterns from western Nigeria, and Bogolan mud cloth of Mali.

There is nothing conservative about this collection—everything is lively and full of character. The least daring pieces are dresses and skirts with multicolored horizontal stripes accented by strategically placed MAXHOSA nametapes at the waist, collar, and hemlines. For the more adventurous, there are dresses, short sets, and suits in amazing prints and, of course, more vibrant colors. If you want to make a statement, but don’t want to be too bold, there are a number of options in black and white print that are just as eye-catching as the rest of the line.

MAXHOSA creates not only stunning ready-to-wear pieces, but also makes accessories— hats, hosiery, neckpieces, and scarves, as well as home décor. MAXHOSA AFRICA aims to become Africa’s leading luxury, premium, and mass heritage lifestyle brand. Worn by stars such as Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Swizz Beats, and Raphael Sadiq, Laduma Ngxokolo is well on his way to cementing his brand as a global cultural rally point.

Images courtesy of Arthur Dlamini for MAXHOSA

The collection will be available for purchase at the end of November on MaxHosa.Africa. 

—Carl Ayers

Bibhu Mohapatra Spring 2021

I don’t believe anything can take the place of a runway show, particularly a good runway show with an exquisite, well-thought out collection. Garments that speak to the fashion designers’ design aesthetic and display the designer’s interpretation of what their consumer wants combined with a brilliant fashion dissertation of what inspired that designer is best presented on a live runway platform.

That said; that expression that so many fashion industry professionals anxiously anticipate is difficult to put into practice this season. Everyone’s health is the most important this season, so the fashion industry is doing the next best thing, digital presentations. Not nearly the same as a live presentation, but what can you do?

For spring 2021 Bibhu Mohapatra was inspired by the revolutionary Indian artist Amrita Sher-Gil. “As the 20th century rolled in, India witnessed many changes in its artistic activities. The Bengal school of art produced many artists of repute, some artists in the quest for a change, distanced themselves from the Bengal School.  Amrita Sher-Gil is one such change-maker who revolutionized and challenged the Indian art scene, albeit way ahead of her times.  With her bold and daring approach towards her life and her artistic milieu, [Sher-Gil] charted the path for the future generations of artists who pledged to continue her legacy of change and challenged the norm,” explained Bibhu Mohapatra.  

And to that respect Bihbu Mohapatra infused this spring 2021 collection with Amrita Sher-Gil’s affinity of depicting Indian woman in their natural state of being, whether relaxing at home or socializing with other women. (The only difference between Sher-Gil and Bibhu is that Sher-Gil’s painting are of mostly impoverished East Indian woman while Bibhu collections are made for women with deep pockets.) Still, there is some intersectionality between Mohapatra and Sher-Gil.

As in previous collections, Bibhu Mohapatra demonstrated expertly his acumen with combining silhouettes that on their own are dissimilar. And the fact that these silhouettes are radically opposed to each other when combined adds to some of the charm found in the collections.

There were some noted departures in this spring 2021 collection. One of Bibhu Mohapatra’s signature elements is his use of exquisite embellishments. There was less of that this season, and there were also fewer evening gowns. Perhaps, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Bibhu to focus on more looks that could work for dressy daytime occasions. Or maybe because there were only 26 looks in the collection there was less room for red-carpet gowns.

Images courtesy of JD Urban/Bibhu Mohapatra

Whatever the reason, in this collection Bibhu Mohapatra demonstrated that under duress or straddled with a down economy, his creativity still reigns supreme. And we all the better for it!!

—William S. Gooch

 

Isabel Marant Resort 2021

For resort season many designers looked to 1980s silhouettes and design aesthetics for inspiration. In that regard, Isabel Marant followed suit.

In her Resort 2021 collection, Marant instituted looks of padded shoulders and sculptural sleeves which was an unmistakable nod the 80s exaggerated sculptural construction. That said; the 80s was the only inspiration for Marant. Marant looked to mid-20th century modern artists like Miro and Calder for added reference points. “It’s more sophisticated, but not complicated,” explained Marant, citing her ménage of refence points for this collection. There was also a hint of the androgyny, a point of view that often pops up in Marant’s collection.

Marant’s collection are characterized by her signature aesthetic of a mix between boho chic and rock chic. Often you will find a well-tailored jacket combined cropped leather or denim trousers.

Marant’s signature DNA is front and center in this resort collection. There are several well-tailored jackets combined with high-waisted denim-like jodhpurs or stirrup pants or acid-washed skirts.

Surprisingly, there are some formal dresses in this outing. There some dresses in draped velour or fluid Tencel with cut-outs. One only wonders in these trying times where to these very sophisticated dresses.

Images courtesy of lesfacons.com

Perhaps, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Marant has remained hopeful that in the not-so-distant future consumers will have a proper place or event to wear this resort collection.  “The confinement forced me to be very pragmatic,” she said. “This was not a moment for being superficial.”

Hmm, hope springs eternal!!

—William S. Gooch

Carolina Herrera Resort 2021

In case you didn’t know, Wes Gordon is the creative director of Carolina Herrera, a post he has held since Carolina Herrera stepped down from eponymous brand in 2018. Interestingly, Gordon since coming to the brand has brought his brand of fun to Herrera’s signature DNA of elegance and sophistication. And the brand’s Resort 2021 collection is a testament to Gordon’s penchant for elegance mixed with a bit of whimsy.

This Resort 2021 collection was developed while Gordon was on his summer farm in Connecticut and perhaps this tranquil, idyllic locale influenced this collection. What is more evident is that Wes Gordon looked to the classic “Wizard of Oz.” “It took on an extra-special meaning when you think that there really is ‘no place like home,’” says Gordon, as reported in a vanityfair.com article. 

Another source of inspiration was all the protests around racial injustice and police brutality. “When you really read the experiences of Black Americans in any industry, you realize, Wow, we have a lot of work to do,” says Gordon. “And that includes me, that includes Herrera, that includes every white American … We could all do so much better.” Perhaps, that explains the exquisite black model that rocks all the garments in this Resort 2021 collection.

Additionally, Gordon reflected on the 80s style that so embodied Carolina Herrera’s collection in the early 80s. Oversized shoulders, taffeta dresses, tops, and gowns, and over-the-top glamour is back!!

This is a collection for the glamor girl who wants her clothes to express that she owns everything while still being fun and whimsical. And what is more whimsical than polka dots. Gordon know that, so in his won inimical way Gordon lets polka dots make a big statement in this Resort collection.  “The world is serious enough; fashion should let our dreams soar and bring us joy,” says Gordon.

Gordon continues to stay true to Carolina Herrera’s aesthetic by incorporating her signature white shirt into this collection. Gordon’s 80s-inspired crisp white shirt is paired beautifully with denim-like shorts.

There is something in this collection for almost every woman. And though there will not be any red carpets of major events to attend any time soon, Gordon injects a bit of red-carpet glam into this collection with several sequined glitter and shine numbers.

Images courtesy of lesfacons.com

Hey, why not aim for the stars!! You just might get there!!

—William S. Gooch

 

 

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