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

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