some of our favorite FW NYFW 23 shows were visual and tactile sensations
In the sustainable fashion space, the go-to strategy for most brands is to figure out one model for ethical production and stick to it. Source deadstock. Use natural dyes. Practice fair labor laws. And then there’s Rentrayage.
Designer Erin Beatty was among the first to experiment with reworking used pieces. Now that everyone is doing it, Rentrayage is taking upcycling to new levels once again. The label’s tenth collection features innovative iterations of pre-loved blazers, trousers and tops crafted from the unlikely fabric pairings on which Beatty has built her reputation, but it goes a step further. Denim features heavily into FW 23, where we see it patchworked onto jackets or reconfigured into skirts. This is par for the course. But in an upcycling coup, they’re then re-reworked using the leftover scraps from the deadstock leftovers. If this sounds redundant on paper, the real life outcomes are anything but. Each piece makes a statement, speaking to the power of innovation brought on by pushing the limits of what you have to work with.
Rentrayage chose Caffé Dante as its presentation venue, which meant a chance to peruse the clothes at one’s leisure. Good thing too, because these are the kinds of garments that deserve to be admired up close. Beyond the racks, models mingled with event-goers, lending a sense of warmth and community to a presentation that stood out in a week of industrial-chic warehouse exhibitions. It felt more like a coffee klatch with friends than another Fashion Week thing – you know, if all your friends had killer style and were really ridiculously good-looking.
Some of our favorite looks below. Photos by A. Mailliard
When so much of fashion week is about staged spectacle and “statement-making” it’s refreshing to see a presentation of pieces that are not only “wearable” but are straight up desirable. Designer Henry Zankov uses art as inspiration and this season it was the art of Daniel Reynolds which was hanging in the presentation hall. The vibrant colors in Reynolds work was matched in Zankov’s luxurious knitwear. Brushed alpaca lined with wool, intarsia knits with patterns that mesmerized and sleeves that hung well below the hands were some of the details that make his work so unique.
The pandemic brought comfort to the forefront and since then there has been a return to more formality in dressing. Henry Zankov’s collections show that to be put together and polished you don’t have to forgo comfort or ease. I find that especially for women this balance is no easy feat. But through these clothes it’s effortlessly accomplished.
Snow Xue Gao
On the mission and purpose of Snow Xue Gao’s FW 23 collection, the namesake designer had this to say:
“[the goal is] to motivate young and aspiring women to also venture and explore their own passion and convert it to a successful career that is fulfilling and liberating”
It makes sense then that the NYFW presentation paid homage to the era that gave us women’s lib. A modern take on mod, the event saw models made up in the height of 1960s glam, with big hair and dramatic eyes offsetting the pattern-blocked dresses and retro mohair jackets. Snow’s signature asymmetrical hemlines, broad-shouldered silhouettes and sharp pleats were present, lending a contemporary edge to the ultra-feminine florals and make-up.
This was the first NYFW presentation held at the label’s flagship Bowery location (she staged a runway show there in the fall). The long, narrow space proved to be a little tight for a presentation, now that the designer’s fan base has grown so big. The models lounged towards the back of the store, and spectators found themselves elbowing through the well-dressed crowd for a better look at the looks. While we love the store itself, with its East Asian meets Soho décor, Snow’s rising popularity means that she might want to expand her horizons – and venue space – for her next showing.
PH5 remains steadfastly dedicated to sustainability through design, both in the production and presentation of its clothes. Co-founders Zoe Champion and Wei Lin continue their quest for 100% responsibly sourced fabrics, passing the 90% threshold for fabrics that are plant-based and entirely circular for the FW collection. Dubbed This Is Not a Jellyfish,the aesthetic speaks to the state of our oceans – a natural evolution from SS23’s underwater wonderland.
Plastic features heavily in this season’s theme, which checks out. Reflective of what’s happening beneath the surface in real time, both the presentation hall and the garments themselves are laden with discarded sheets of it. (These too are sustainably sourced; Wei and Champion enlisted friends and family to save plastic from their daily activities that the designers then reused.) The result is effective: beautiful, intricate pieces made of natural fibers contrast with accumulated bunches of plastic. Reminding us of the reality we’ve created on the ocean floor.
Some of our favorite looks below. Photos by Stephanie Geddes