Yigal azrouel fashion week

Yigal azrouel fashion week

Barry Samaha , Contributor Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Trend may be a dirty word for many in fashion, but it does help the general public narrow down how best to present themselves in the coming season. It is a designer’s job, after all, to reflect the world we live in and create pieces that speak to zeitgeist. And if it so happens that a group of them are expressing the same thought, it is, by definition, a trend. For Fall 2018, New York Fashion Week had a handful of collections that did just that.

Brock Collection

Backstage at Brock Collection Fall 2018.

Perfectly Pastoral

Sportswear and business suits are usually what many expect from New Fashion Week, but it appeared that designers looked past an urban environment and into the American heartland. Indeed, styles indicative of prairie life from days gone by—billowy shoulders, bishop sleeves, frills, flora and long, languid silhouettes—were in abundance.

Calvin Klein showed lengthy gingham dresses that harkened back to Dorothy’s attire on her trip to Oz. Tory Burch filled her presentation with flowers, and had bucolic pieces to match. Zimmermann had saddle-esque belts around flouncy dresses and cowboy boots in a variety of shades. Jonathan Simkhai said he was referencing Gibson Girls, but his denim separates and shoulder-bearing corset dresses recalled the saloons of the Old West much more so. And Claudia Li meandered between town and country, leaning toward the latter with the use of rustic colors and floral prints.

The best example of this trend was found at Brock Collection, which was chock-full of dainty flower prints and dreamy lace on updated Victorian silhouettes. It was romantic without being too sentimental; it was seductive yet strong. If only the brand invited more people to see it.

Giovanni Giannoni; Tory Burch; Jonathan Simkhai; Claudia Li.

Calvin Klein; Tory Burch; Jonathan Simkhai; Claudia Li.

The Matrix Reloaded

In a scene that echoed the first half of The Matrix, the film that showcased ’90s-sleek at its most severe, Alexander Wang staged his runway show among the empty cubicles and flickering lights of the now empty 4 Times Square, the once-home of publishing giant Condé Nast. Clad in skin-tight, short leather skirts and ankle-length iridescent trench coats, the models strutted down the halls, calling to mind the dominatrix-y styles of the "sex sells" decade—but with a twist.

The same sentiment can be applied to Cushnie et Ochs’s spectacular group of slinky dresses and tailored suits, which was va-va-woom without being tawdry, and Sally Lapointe’s line of monochromatic looks, which had as much pizazz and they did polish. Zadig and Volatire’s rocker-chic collection also nodded to the decade with a leather jumper and PVC pants.

And though the ’90s references were rife in these collections, they didn’t truly fit the mold of a throwback. (The twist, remember?). Nay, instead of showcasing sex overtly with cleavage and cut-outs (as Gucci, Versace and Jean Paul Gaultier did in the past), a bold shoulder and nipped waist were used to convey power and allure. And if the skirt was short, the sleeves were long to balance out the proportions. Essentially, skin wasn't displayed so callously.

Cushnie et Ochs; Alexander Wang; Sally Lapointe; Zadig and Voltaire.

Cushnie et Ochs; Alexander Wang; Sally Lapointe; Zadig and Voltaire.

Party City

Studio 54 was a nightclub like none other. Sequins, voluminous shapes, kitschy prints and everything embellished was the name of the game, and not adhering to such a dress code was a fashion faux pas that would have had one waiting outside along the blockbuster lines. Such was the scene at Bergdorf Goodman, where a fête was hosted for designer Peter Dundas. Little did everyone know (or maybe they did, seeing how the guest list was comprised of fashion’s elite) that the same wild, decadent vibe would be seen on the runways.

Tom Ford, who usually falls into The Matrix category, was the first to swear allegiance to the more-is-more mindset. The designer showed a mixed bag of colorful animal printed suits, fur jackets and tights that somehow managed to be classy and cheeky at the same time—a rare combination to come by. The same can be said of Marc Jacob’s Fall 2018 collection, which riffed off the styles of Emanuel Ungaro, Yves Saint Lauren in the ’80s and the sketches of Antonio Lopez. Everything was oversized (pants, belts, hats, scarves—you name it), and most of the looks were intensely bright (there was a spattering of all-black ensembles). But even with these excessive qualities, the collection was no less appealing.

Michael Kors, on the other end of the party spectrum, showed eclectic daywear and evening dresses that ran from preppy to bohemian to styles befitting lounge singers. Discordant as that sounds, everything was pretty spectacular and worked together nicely—particularly a belted bustier dress cast in women’s portraits that were illustrated by David Downton. Finally, there was Alice + Olivia’s presentation, which, similar to last year, suffered from overcrowding. Past the sea of iPhone-carrying, um, influencers, there was a solid collection of flared pants, checkered tops and bottoms, studded jackets and sequined pieces in perky colors.

Alice + Olivia; Marc Jacobs; Michael Kors; Tom Ford.

Alice + Olivia; Marc Jacobs; Michael Kors; Tom Ford.

Happy Anniversary

This isn’t so much a trend as it was a matter of fact. Many brands celebrated their anniversaries, showing how fashion is not so ephemeral as many may think it to be. Reaching the 10-year mark were Victoria Beckham, Christian Siriano and Cusnie et Ochs. Those that doubled that number included Zadig and Voltaire, Eugenia Kim, Narciso Rodriguez and Yigal Azrouël.

The Top Trends from New York Fashion Week Fall 2018

Eugenia Kim; Yigal Azrouël; Narciso Rodriguez.

Follow Barry Samaha on Twitter (@barry_samaha) and Instagram (@barrysamaha).

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