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The All-New American Collections for AW21

Sat 20 Feb

New York Fashion Week is in a state of flux at present. Firstly, the CFDA, namely their head Tom Ford, altered the week’s title to The American Collections, in a bid to encourage more widespread shows (in location and show date.) But where did all the big brands go? Headliners such as Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch and The Row all eschewed fashion week. One would have thought that such a commercially savvy city would have the budget to blow on this pandemic-induced digital fashion week era. Instead, this week felt more akin to that of London; smaller brands grabbing the opportunity to experiment with the digital fashion week, showing collections through a myriad of animation, shows filters and films.  Womenswear designer Maisie Wilen captured a symbiosis of nature and tech with her watery runway. Sounds of fashion weeks past played on loop as her signature optical prints - cleverly combined with QR codes - splashed on our screens. Gabriella Hearst and Proenza Schoeler too, both managed to present an enrapturing physical show. The former was a modern Renaissance where earthy, rich textures (Most of which were repurposed deadstock fabrics) dominated. The latter was one of the tops of the week, a fresh, sharp and even sexy offering that included Elle Imhoff (Kamara Harris’ stepdaughter.) 

Gabriella Hearst AW21

Even fresher still was Private Policy, who released look-by-look on TikTok, a forward-thinking way to engage with the audience. One to watch, Private Policy have their finger on the pulse, and their accessories and styling seem to always reflect what Gen Z is hungry for. Collina Strada -  a brand that has truly triumphed with digital content over lockdown - showed whimsical model-to-animal metamorphosis in their usual psychedelic brights. Rebecca Minkoff too created an immersive augmented-reality experience, showcasing a select few a physical show. And, in a collaboration no-one could have predicted, partnered with OnlyFans for the occasion. That’s thinking outside the box! 

Collina Strada AW21

There was lookbooks aplomb, as is understandably the safest to create, with Thakoon the most notable over the week despite the slightly underwhelming aesthetic. As I write, Tom Ford is yet to premiere his AW21 lookbook. It feels somewhat disappointing that the over-seer of The American Collections isn’t spearheading innovation for this new NYFW, but perhaps letting others shine in their newness was Ford’s plan all along.