Fe Noel: Fashion at the Intersections & Margins For NYFW

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The label takes the spring 2023 runway show to new heights with a definitive sartorial statement.

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Felisha Noel never enters a Fashion Week unless there is something definitive to relay to the masses through her collections and for NYFW she continued her tradition of imbuing her apparel with messages that resonate throughout the cultural and socio-economic fabrics of our lives. Her passion for creating womenswear that speaks volumes is further illuminated by what she brings to the table as a Caribbean artist that celebrates her Grenadian heritage by keeping it central and centered throughout each collection with designs targeted at phenomenal women with an elevated sense of style. 

An overnight success began more than a decade ago…


Rare is the Black artist that become an instant phenomenon, and Felisha Noel is no exception. Paying her dues through a number of collaborations before opening her eponymous label Fe Noel, it was her daily interactions with the entrepreneurial spirit that resides in her blood that motivated and inspired her to carry on even when the odds were decidedly against her. 

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Since making a splash into womenswear back in 2011, Fe Noel has enjoyed critical success as a brand unabashedly embracing femininity and the thoroughly modern woman. Realizing that women of today are multifaceted and more inclined to reside between both traditions old and emerging, the label represents its designer’s own parallels as an independent Black woman living outside the box in unapologetic style.

The self-taught designer has forged her own singular line by fusing the best parts of her multicultural roots and weaving them into an undeniably sophisticated cornucopia of ebullient style that has seen her passions become a reality through hard work, determination, and a being in the right place at the right time. After creating waves at Harlem’s Fashion Row as a protégé, the attention awarded Noel the chance to co-design basketball icon LeBron James’ first women’s sneaker for Nike. 

‘Wish You Were Here’ Examines Duality Across Three Phases

“Joy doesn’t mean absence of pain, and pain doesn’t mean absence of joy.”

– Felisha Noel


With this quote providing the context for her second official showing at New York Fashion Week, the designer boldly opened and closed the show with ‘La Vie En Rose’, utilizing two renditions which juxtapose the meaning of the phrase: one by Louis Armstrong – who is regarded as one of the most prolific and iconic talents of the Harlem Renaissance, the other by Grace Jones, hailed as a trailblazer and enigma of Jamaican heritage. The presentation was divided into three segments to properly convey the entirety of a phrase that can easily be re-imagined and re-interpreted differently by each viewer. 

Romance

The show began with ethereal vibes which featured a flowing, bias-cut slip dress in a shade of peach. Other colors from this set included rich brown and metallic gold. Paired with the lingerie look were ruched pieces, taupe silk pants, and structured corset tops that evoked a sexy yet provocative aesthetic. 

Grief

The first act gleamed into the second – anguish – and the collection took a turn towards deeper, darker colors to express pain through design. The color black is synonymous with pain, and Noel selected it for this segment, augmenting its delivery with panels of rich ivory, with detailed tailoring for the menswear included in this part of the presentation. Noel stressed that the designs were inspired by her own personal grief, but the touches of light represent the undying element of hope that lives on. rich ivory, with detailed tailoring for the menswear included in this part of the presentation. Noel stressed that the designs were inspired by her own personal grief, but the touches of light represent the undying element of hope that lives on.

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Celebration

The third and final act was by far the most vivid of them all, which encompassed pink florals to and black tulle, to shades of dark green and the rich regality of purple. Also on offer for this segment? Structure! And to great effect as Noel re-examined the historical classic looks by including draped goddess dresses. Closing out the show was ‘The Dre$$’, a magnificent, sweeping mermaid-silhouette dress, complete with a 16-foot train. The first couture gown ever from the label, ‘The Dre$$’ featured hand-sewn bills meant to represent the $1.6 million gender retirement income gap, a 30% that drastically affects generational wealth for women of color in particular. The epic moment that remained was a thought-provoking sartorial statement which Fe Noel is synonymous for. 

credit: Instagram

A 2022 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, Fe Noel’s collection presented 25 looks that were expansive in where they delved and what they encapsulated. With puff sleeves, daring asymmetry, and an abundance of volume, the designer played off of many themes to state her sartorial case – from ostrich feather cuffs in a light mint hue and regal trains on dresses, to elegant ruching and elegant gloves, the label used various techniques to play up the themes that included romance, beauty, and grief. With blazers and pantsuits exquisitely tailored alongside romantic slip dresses and gowns, Fe Noel presented a showcase that the thoroughly modern woman could fully embrace and appreciate. The models were adorned with makeup and hairstyling to showcase raw emotion from smokey eyes to reflect tears to textured waves that represented serenity. 

The Celebrity Quotient

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Defined as sophisticated fashion for the adventurous woman, it is only fitting that Fe Noel’s designs find their way into the closets of several high-profile people. Notable fans include Beyoncé, Gabrielle Union, Katy Perry, and the former First Lady herself, Michelle Obama. At this year’s Fashion Week presentation, southern rapper Latto made a splash in one of Fe Noel’s creations, a multi-colored ombre, body-hugging dress with a matching jacket and puffy white sleeves. It was a decidedly different aesthetic for the rap star, and her social media buzz approved the style statement and nearly immediately recognized her as a serious influencer on trending fashion.

For NYFW23, Fe Noel’s mission to spark conversation through exceptional fashion was yet again a mission thoroughly accomplished from start to finish. The label made a statement that will resonate well after the season ends. Through Fe Noel, the complexities of womanhood are challenged, fortified, and emboldened in transcendent style. 

Triston Brewer

Triston Brewer is a performance artist, journalist, activist, and fearless bon vivant. He has been published in The Huffington Post and featured in New York Times, Vogue Italia, Washington Post, Turkish Huriyet to name a few. As a jetsetter traveling across the continents, Triston is a dandy not just covering fashion, but discovering it!