Naeem Khan Fall 2021

As an art form, fashion tends to have one foot in the past and one in the future. There is the adage that fashion is cyclical, and there is nothing truly new, but simply a new spin on an old trope. Naeem Khan’s fall 2021 collection confirms yet combats this sentiment. While many brands have pivoted to focus on creating collections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic—relaxed aesthetics and athleisure—Khan is looking to the future world where we have moved on from COVID-19.

As you view Khan’s latest 33-piece collection, you will see gowns evoking various periods of high fashion. There are fringed-beaded dresses reminiscent of the 1920’s flapper and art deco era. There were also nods to the Flower Power movement of the late ‘60s, and the feathered Dynasty era of the 80’s. And one cannot overlook the heavy baroque and rococo looks of the 1700’s.

The baroque ensembles employed the eye-catching color palette of black, gold, and silver to harken old world aristocratic glam. The intricate beading takes form in a design of gilded leaves and feathers against a black backdrop creating an illusion of metallic brocade armor. The image, fit for a Maharani, is reminiscent of traditional fashion reminiscent of Khan’s South Asian homeland.

Equally as glamourous are the looks of the American flapper and art deco period. Not as intricately designed, but just as heavily encrusted, Khan’s flapper dresses in silver, blue, and green come in full, knee, and thigh lengths. The art deco gowns are in silver or gold for a classic looks, but there’s also a gold jumpsuit for extra festive occasions.

Moving forward in the timeline of fashion, Khan offers traditional and modern reflections of the hippie era. With orange and red beaded flowers atop a pale blue background, you are thrust back in time, but this is not some ‘Marcia Brady’ ensemble. With high hem lines and plunging neck lines, these looks are bold and daring, not for the faint of heart. Still, there are more modest flower-adorned dresses, gowns, and jumpsuits in black, and even ethereal creations in a sandy nude tone.

If you are one to be more covered up, you would appreciate the monochromatic gowns in purple and pink. They include floor-length capes and feathered jackets that will have you channeling Diahann Carroll and Joan Collins.

Images courtesy of Naeem Khan

Nothing in this collection is for the homebound consumer. This line was created for the woman who has incorporated dressing up as part of her lifestyle.  Khan says “There are women who love glamour, who cannot live without glamour and they socialize, even though it might be restricted. They want to look fabulous because dressing like this makes you happy and it gives a certain feeling to life.”

—Carl Ayers

Bibhu Mohapatra Fall 2021

Did Bibhu Mohapatra get the memo that we are in the throws of a health pandemic, and that restaurants are operating a limited capacity and no theatres, social events and galas are open to the public? And don’t mention that red-carpet events, concerts, and nights out on the town are currently off-limits.

From Mohapatra’s fall 2021 collection, it obvious he didn’t get the memo. And that is a good thing. Why abandon your penchant for luxury fashion when it has worked so well you? So, COVID-19 aside, Mohapatra knows what works for his brand, and he is doing just that!!

Inspired by Langston Hughes’ relationship with A’Leila Walker, daughter of the famed CJ Walker, America’s first black millionaire, and Gustav Klimt and Emilie Flöge in late 1900s Vienna, this fall 2021 collection was Mohapatra’s reflection on romance from days gone by seen through a modern lens. (Albeit, the aforementioned relationships were not the most traditional relationships in their time periods.)

Interestingly, Mohapatra pulled back on his usual injection of glorious embellishments, which pays homage to his South Asian background. Maybe this retraction is due the more relaxed mood found throughout the fashion industry, resulting from COVID-19 lockdowns and a move away from over embellishments. Whatever the reason, Mohapatra’s pullback from in-your-face glitz and glam serves this collection well.

Keeping with the sustainable ‘going green’ motif that was front and center for many New York Fashion Week (NYFW) collections, Mohapatra employed vegan leather for several of his daywear garments which makes those garments more affordable to the average consumer. And though this collection projected a modern perspective on glam and luxury, Mohapatra still was able to brilliantly reference old world fabrics and design techniques evidenced in his use of lace, velvet, and lacey shrugs with a non to 1920s design aesthetics, and long flowing trains that evoked moods of elegance and sophistication.

Images courtesy of Bibhu Mohapatra

Is Bibhu Mohapatra in this outing predicting that good times are a head, post-pandemic? Of course, he is. Hopes springs eternal and Mohapatra is a master at inspiring beauty, hope, and modern glamour!! Now all consumers need is somewhere to wear these fabulous clothes. The party is just around the corner!!

—William S. Gooch

 

Zimmerman Fall 2021

The fashion industry, so hard-hit by COVID-19, is seeing that somber mood of the health pandemic reflected in their designs. That said, Zimmerman’s fall 2021 collection is a breath of fresh air with a color palette veering from bright pinks to pastels and exuberant psychedelic prints clearly inspired by the ’70s. That jewel encrusted minidresses are screaming for a night on the town at a time when restaurants are only at 25% capacity.

The collection consisted largely of variations on her signature minidresses trimmed with lace or ribbons featuring Victorian collars, keyhole cutouts, and puffy mutton sleeves. If minidresses seem an odd choice for fall remember that ‘Down Under’—Nicki Zimmerman is from Australia—the seasons are opposite of the North Hemisphere so it’s their spring. 

The full-length dresses were oddly reminiscent of the 70’s brand Gunne Sax with peasant- inspired silhouettes without the muted palette. Instead Zimmerman incorporated bright pinks or cosmetic prints accenting wine-colored backgrounds. Multiple plaid pantsuits in bright pinks, mustard yellows, and browns with pussy bows blouses are looks that consumers will find quite groovy.

Zimmerman said the collection was largely inspired by “Countdown,” a music program that aired in the 1970s featuring the music of Abba, Blondie, and The Stooges. This 70s aesthetic presented itself in jeans with eschewed washes with flared legs paired with hip-length, peasant blouses.

Where the collections really seemed to get lost was in the coats. Again, autumn in Australia is quite warm so perhaps this is a nod towards American consumers. The collection featured several full-length, duster coats. The most effective was a bright pink plaid over a win- red pantsuit. Another standout coat was a chocolate brown leather coat that looked like it walked right off the set of “Shaft.”

 There was also a shiny black leather duster coat over black shirt and culottes. Yes, culottes.  There was only one pair of culottes in the entire collection. Oddly, the fashion industry has been trying for years now to make culottes a trend and consumers won’t stop saying “No!”

Images courtesy of vogue.com

Still, it will be interesting to see how American consumers respond to this collection which was clearly meant for free-wheeling, good times. While America is getting closer to more vaccinations with Johnson & Johnson recently announcing they had developed a new single dose vaccine, we’re not quite there, yet. 

Cameron Grey Rose

Anna Sui Fall 2021

Anna Sui took a more muted approach to color than usual for her fall 2021 collection. The designer is best known for her hippie-inspired psychedelic colors and prints, and while there is color in the bulk of her collection this season, Sui began the presentation with a focused black and white moment, which she said she’s been unable to stop thinking of as the world is currently on pause and she has visions of a bright and vibrant world ahead.

Despite the heavier use of a black and white color palette, Anna Sui didn’t stray away from her signature use of bold patterns. Stripes, cow prints, plaids, and zigzags all helped take maximalist neutral colors and earth tones to more creative heights. Patterns were layered on patterns, lurex stripes and wavy knits gave the eye plenty to explore, and faux suede pieces had whimsical trims. While the earlier looks in the collection focused on black, white, and earth tones, later looks featured gorgeous splashes of purple, fuchsia, green, and magenta.

By fall 2021, there is expected to be an answer as to where we can wear maximalist, patterned, beautiful garments. With the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, designers are creating collections centered around a future of optimism. The global pause has been seeing an on-again, off-again button with lockdown measures, but as the COVID-19 vaccine is becoming more available globally, people are looking for a reason to dress-up again.

Anna Sui’s word of choice for the future she envisions is phantasmadelic, a word of her own unique origin in reference to exuberant colors and patterns. Additional inspiration for her came from the 1968 film “Wonderwall” by Joe Massot, where a bored scientist who lives his world in black-and-white discovers a hole through his wall and sees swinging sixties model Penny Lane, played by the incomparable Jane Birkin, who lives her life in fantastic color.

Images couretes of Richie Davis

The set for Anna Sui’s virtual show featured a brightly hued wardrobe cabinet, with the idea being that this will transport us to a new world and a fashionable new dawn where there is a party on the other side and reason to show off our latest fashions. Here’s to hoping in fall 2021 that Anna Sui’s dreams do come true.

—Kristopher Fraser

Adam Lippes Fall 2021

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, fashion designer Adam Lippes has followed his customers’ cue and delivered clothes that are above comfortable and feminine. In an October 13, 2020 interview with Nicole Phelps for www.vogue.com, Lippes cited his new touchstones as “refinement, comfort, luxury and ease.”

The big 1980s’ pussycat bow from the pre-fall 2021 collection took center stage for fall 2021. The fun poppy print he designed with editorial florist Putnam & Putnam reeked of optimism and looked great as a separate and as a dress. The brilliant red showed up again as a quilted red leather jacket with relaxed matching trousers that are the perfect solution between leggings and rigorously tailored trousers. As for skirts and dresses, the red and white striped knit skirt and dress with a ruffle hem strike the right balance of ease and refinement.

Although color is certainly a mood elevator, Lippes is shrewd enough to recognize that women still need great basics to mix with colorful prints and pieces. There’s a sharp khaki trench coat and an oversized white gnarled knit turtleneck that’s right on point and can be dressed-up or down as the occasion requires. His long white coat shares the comfort Norma Kamali’s iconic “cocoon coat” has and looks comfortable enough to sleep in.

Images courtesy of runway360.com

It is unlikely women will be eager to embrace the suits they put away a year ago, but they may take to Lippes’s slouchy black pant suit and tweed turtleneck and long skirt set. We applaud this designer for delivering a collection that is comfortable but most definitely not “basic.”

—Vivian Kelly

 

Negris LeBrum Fall 2021

One of the advantages of being a fashion editor is observing a fashion designer/brand evolve and grow over time. And though for the past two seasons New York Fashion Week (NYFW) and many global fashion weeks have adopted a virtual platform due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still opportunity to witness the growth of some fashion brands.

Negris LeBrum is one such brand. When I first attended Negris LeBrum’s runway shows during NYFW, I noticed that though the garments were well made, the brand was bogged down in parochialism with very little innovation or ingenuity. Don’t be mistaken, there is a market for those kinds of garments, but presenting a collection of garments that don’t grab your attention can be a wonk wonk moment during NYFW. That design aesthetic has now pivoted, in a good way.

Negris LeBrum creative director Travis Hamilton chose to film the video for his fall 2021 collection in his hometown of Houston, Texas, stage in a public park. Inspired by his Louisiana bayou roots, Hamilton sought to bring a New York City sophistication to the South.  “I wanted to bring a piece of NY Fashion Week to the South this season, as I may not get the opportunity to show outside of NYC again for some time. I really feel these times are right for my brand in so many ways. I have always worked in what I refer to as a ‘conservative sexy’ aesthetic, allowing the woman who wears my collection to define the final feeling of the ensemble. The heart and soul of the Negris LeBrum brand is and will always be Louisiana, but my studio and current home are in Houston, so bringing the two together for [fall] 2021 is like a fashionable homecoming for me,” explained Hamilton.

In bringing a Big Apple sophistication to a more laidback location, Hamilton did modify that design aesthetic to the southern consumer who may not be aggressively pounding the pavement or rushing from one appointment to the next. This fall 2021collection is for the woman who wants sophistication and style on her own terms. And this specific point of view embraces a design aesthetic that is more inclusive in terms of age demographic, size, and culture.

And in that respect, Travis Hamilton is doing something that reflects the changing tide in the fashion and retail industries. One thing that this health pandemic is teaching us is that there are valuable fashion markets beyond crowded urban cities. Hamilton is tapping in the that with this collection. Projecting that it possible to have great style and panache while living outside of a metropolis.

Standout looks in this collection include the faux leopard coat with thin black belt, sporty varsity sweater with polka dot blouse over tweed skirt, and grey wrap metallic jumpsuit with V-neck. And the faux black leather and faux leopard coat over black suit is to die for.

Images courtesy of VERY New York

Keep evolving and keep up the good work!!

William S. Gooch

Frederick Anderson Fall 2021

A week before his show, Frederick Anderson shared a preview sketch and a few words about the collection with Fashion Reverie. He spoke of his lifelong love affair with New York City which started when he was 15, spending summers there to study dance at the Joffrey Ballet. Ever since then, the Big Apple has served as a source of inspiration, most especially for this latest collection.

Anderson’s fall 2021 show is one of hope and rebirth for the latter half of 2021. He references different periods of what fashion looked like through the decades he’s lived in New York, from the Seventies to the present day. The background for the runway show/film was shot in a warehouse that looked like the ones so many young creatives and college students flocked to in the Eighties, attracted by the cheap rents.

The clothes themselves are light and airy, pieces that allow for movement as we begin to reenergize and move towards increased socialization and activities post-pandemic. Fabrics ranged for slinky satins, luxurious tweeds, lame, and lots of delicate hand-crocheted sweaters and dresses. Batwing sleeves, cowl necks, gaucho pants, a baby doll top, and the powder blue eyeshadow the models wore harkened back to the1970s.  The 1980s were referenced with black and white tweeds reminiscent of Karl Lagerfeld’s redo of Chanel’s traditional tweed suits which he perfected in 1992. Nineties references came in the form of a lame pantsuit and lace and crochet dusters.

Images courtesy of runway360.com

Anderson brought the collection to the present, recognizing that we want something more, as we prepare to venture out, but still crave the comfort the sweats we’ve been cocooning in for the past year.  He showed an easy cobalt satin dress and a pantsuit that work for going out or staying in. Strongest in show were the delicate crochet pieces, especially #17, the horizontal multi-colored long dress and #4, a cream camel and gray poncho trimmed in black that’s a perfect fall transition piece. All in all, Anderson’s latest collection is a fitting tribute to the city he loves.

 ­­­—Vivian Kelly

APOTTS Fall 2021

Aaron Potts embodies the word “inclusion.” With his eponymous brand APOTTS, he aims to create clothes that are unisex, versatile, modern, and trans-seasonal for all genders, sizes, and ages. Potts states that real style is about spirit, not about physical differences, or trends, yet he smartly picks up on his pre-fall 2020 trends and carries it over to his fall 2021 collection.

For fall 2021, APOTTS presents a tightly edited, cohesive collection meant to effortlessly weave into your existing wardrobe. Nothing stands out as gaudy or intimidating, but rather warm, inviting, and familiar, but new. The video of this collection, cast with Alvin Ailey dancers, is a wonderful dance of shape and silhouette, from voluminous dresses with billowing sleeves and oversized coats, to wide leg pants and shapeshifting tunics. For this collection, proportions are a key element. Most of the designs keep you well covered, without being swallowed in fabric. Here, volume is both comfort and freedom.

Every wardrobe starts with black, but there is nothing basic about it in this collection. The all-black looks will carry you throughout the season. The floor-length black crinoline skirt is fun and light enough for warm weather but can give volume under a long dress when the temps dip. The oversized tunic and pants let you layer up underneath, if need be, but make a form-filling, but not boxy silhouette on their own.

Potts proves that grey does not have to be somber, but can be fun. You can feel snug at home in the grey cocoon jumpsuit or hit the streets in a grey checked coat. There is a loose-fitting top and calf-length skirt in the same checkered pattern. If you gravitate toward oversized silhouettes, there’s a wonderful almost duster-length grey coat with an exaggerated collar.

The infusion of yellow in this collection can brighten any mood. In creating this collection, Potts described a need for optimism and creativity. He stated, “The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t cliché. It’s necessary.” The yellow plaid mohair coat is almost a hybrid between a Chesterfield and a peacoat. The bold pattern with subdued vibrancy makes this, alongside the similarly patterned pant, the stand out of the collection. If you want to be adventurous with this pattern, there is also a seemingly twelve-foot long matching scarf with detachable panels.

The most luminescent garments are the lemon-yellow items—the zip-ripped sweater, pants, and overcoat. The leather pant and coat with silver lining should make an appearance in a young pop stars music video.

Images courtesy of 360runway.com

The range of this collection demonstrates that Potts had a varied consumer base in mind. There are items that are more creative, and items that are more reserved. No matter what purchases you make, the collection will grow with you through the years furthering the brands aim to create quality, fresh, thoughtful, and effortless dressing options.

—Carl Ayers

Kimberly Goldson Fall 2021

Kimberly Goldson is a master of wowing the consumer with a tightly edited, impeccably tailored, concise collection. Her collections rarely top more than 15 items. The lesson here is that less is more.

 For fall 2021, she is once again giving the customer clean, distinct creations without overwhelming them. Goldson concentrated her focus on three prints and two solid colors that allows you to easily mix and match pieces from this collection amongst themselves or with items already within your wardrobe.

Her “Camp” print, a floral design atop a white backdrop and overlaid with tribal-style black circles, is featured on a thigh length, open shawl-collared jacket, joggers, and a cold-shoulder bralette. The “Incognito” print, another circular overlay atop a pale blue canvas, is used for a 7-button, barrel sleeved, calf-length tunic and a loose wide-legged pant option. The final print, called “Stealth,” consists of black and white color blocking, separated by a thin café au lait stripe beneath a stencil in Madagascar red. This print comes in the most diverse garment options of a knee-length, sleeveless dress with a ruffled hem, relaxed high waist cropped pants, and a knee-length bomber jacket.

If you prefer solids over prints, there is a one shoulder tee shirt dress with asymmetrical button details and matching wide leg pants in a soft satin blue-gray color. But the stand out of the collection is the ivory baby doll dress. It has a daringly high front hemline, but the real flair is in the cropped exaggerated Juliette sleeves which are gathered and pinned in a way reminiscent of a calla lily.

Images courtesy of 360runway.com

This collection, though truncated, is positioned for the confident women with a well-appointed viewpoint of her style identity. She needn’t worry about grand embellishments, for she knows that fabric, cut, and fit are the best design details a garment can have.

—Carl Ayers

Libertine Fall 2021

Johnson Hartig, Libertine’s creative director, is a man known for sequins, sparkle, and maximalism. Even a global pandemic and decreased customer spending couldn’t rain on his bedazzled, embellished, and appliquéd parade as the brand looks to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Rather than skew to more minimalist or athleisure creations, like many of his colleagues have this season, Hartig went over-the-top in full force.

Inspired by the baroque era, made evident by the backdrop used in this virtual presentation, Johnson Hartig implements a modern distillation on baroque by borrowing and updating embellishments and gold leaf often found in baroque art and architecture. This point of view is risky and could look like a tacky costume flashback, not so in this collection. Johnson Hartig ingeniously approached the baroque aesthetic with a modern point of view that made this collection both vintage and innovative at the same time.

Libertine’s opening look for their virtual runway show, shown via the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA) Runway360 online platform, featured a giant bow made up of layers of tulle and adorned with crystals. It was quite the way to tell someone “heads up, lots of ostentatious fashion coming through.” This was followed by a mixed-media pattern dress paired with a mixed-media patterned, oversized floppy hat and a multi-patterned black dress.

Libertine continues to be that brand that encourages us to wear pattern on pattern, because the strength of power clashing should never be underestimated. A classic green and red plaid shirt was the underlayer for a literally gold-leafed black blazer look for your less than classic tailored suiting. It was perhaps the most high fashion the wooded farm boy aesthetic is ever going to get. Leave it up to Hartig to not only go beyond the grain, but potentially reinvent it.

Images courtesy of runway360.com

While Hartig is known for tons of colors, patterns, and embellishments, something about this season was a bit different. This time, the approach felt more like a symbol of positivity, that, even in one of humanity’s darkest and difficult hours, fashion and creation give us something to look forward to. When all hope is lost, live out loud, even with your fashion choices, for tomorrow will hopefully bring bluer skiers and even bolder outfits. Hartig dared us to dream again, and as we attempt to emerge from a pandemic world, dreams will hopefully come true.

—Kristopher Fraser

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