NYFW was Blacker than ever before, with a few Caribbean designers making waves at this season’s event
Black culture has always been at the forefront of mainstream fashion, so it is only fitting that the tide has dramatically shifted in showcasing their talents and contributions across the industry. The fashion world is finally beginning to acknowledge the depths of Black style and the many ways in which pioneers have fought tirelessly to break down barriers and forge new paths that have allowed new creators in the business to truly flourish. New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2023 was bristling with major news that will make waves in the industry for years to come.
One of the biggest announcements was news of Louis Vuitton’s next creative director, Pharrell Williams taking over the reigns in what many predict will be one of the most transformative eras for the titan brand. Williams has been a major force in entertainment for a generation already, first making an impact as a music producer and songwriter. Visually, he has inspired many looks through the singers he has worked with that have incorporated his music as well as iconic looks into their music videos, which have been mass distributed across the world. Music and fashion have always been intrinsically linked, so it is no surprise that Williams has parlayed his initial acclaim directly toward the fashion world. With his first collection due this summer, anticipation is already mounting and a new creative legacy for the fashion auteur is seemingly right around the corner.
Caribbean Designers Make a Splash with Latest Collections
If their latest releases are any indication, there are two Caribbean designers destined to elevate their stature in the fashion industry with collections that highlighted the pride of their countries and illustrious artistic direction.
Marrisa Wilson Shines with Stunning Collection
If one were to describe Marrisa Wilson’s collection in a nutshell, it would emphasize the brand’s mantra of high fashion at the intersection of quality, functionality, and inclusivity. The Creative Director and founder of the eponymous label has taken a multicultural approach to fashion which straddles the fence between her studies in Paris and New York, combined with her heritage as a first-generation Guyanese-American with a background in art and dance.
Wilson’s passion for dance has influenced her design process from the beginning, and for her Fall/Winter 2023 collection, this relationship was explored in depth with pieces that included the laidback styling and handmade prints the brand is known for. Relaxed silhouettes and bold, dramatic prints are at the center of her latest collection, and the melodies and rhythms seem to flow throughout every look witnessed on the models on the runway. The collection, titled ‘Rhythmic’, was a wink and nod to Katherine Dunham, one of America’s most acclaimed Black American dancers and the muse behind the presentation that included live musicians playing traditional jazz as dancers moved down the runway to the beat. Wilson’s philosophy leans heavily into women claiming their personalities in abundance, and the fabrics chosen for her latest collection celebrates real women with real lives – a colorful display unapologetic in its premise.
Celebrated for her innovative use of prints, the Marrisa Wilson offering for NYFW2023 featured the colors and culture of Guyana, the country her parents emigrated from, with highlights including a maxi dress with intricate hand painting, a mid-length form-fitting dress combining three abstract prints, and a wool gaberdine popover with matching pants. The piece de resistance for Wilson’s show was a special appearance by iconic fashion model from the 70s, Pat Cleveland, who was welcomed to thunderous applause upon her entrance. Celebrities in the audience included Karen Blanchard, Thania Peck, Jenee Naylor, and model-turned-actress Leyna Bloom. Marrisa Wilson teamed up with Cuban-American Oribe Canales of Oribe to produce a show that enforced the principles of empowerment and inclusivity on all the models featured on the runway – a triumph of a presentation taking Caribbean design to the forefront of mainstream fashion.
Junny Unveils Transcendent Collection
“The clothing in this collection represents the human mind, an exploration of the lived experience, darkness and light,
and my own experience with Dusk to Dawn”– Junny Ann Hibbert
Proving the future of New York Fashion Week is digital, Junny Fall/Winter 2023 presented its latest collection at NYFW Online, which also included a short film along with the unveiling of the newest offerings from the Jamaican-American designer. Titled ‘Dusk to Dawn’, the label explored the darker dynamics of human emotion, which was sponsored by CFDA Runway360 and NYFW.com.
Junny is a brand basking in a vivacious and tender style the is reflective of its Creative Director and founder, who has gained recognition for celebrating her Harlem and Jamaican roots to produce genderless and size-inclusive designs. The decidedly personal collection from the eponymous brand brought the multiculturalism of America to the forefront by featuring models of various ethnicities wearing distinctive looks that were progressive and elegant. The four looks seen on the runway emphasized playful yet luxurious dresses that were reminiscent of the designer’s memories of the women growing up around her as a child.
Highlights include a black silk sheer dress with windowpane design that incorporated a dual motif of darkness and light, another dress an obvious homage to her West Indian and Afro-Caribbean roots featuring exaggerated sleeves, and another brimming with sequins and designed in collaboration with multimedia artist Oluwaseyi Awoyomi in gray silk charmeuse. Each piece served up another slice of an overall narrative stressing the importance transcending darkness to reach the light.
Luar Takes a Definitive Style Lane
If there is any label that knows the process of reinvention, it is Luar, helmed by founder and Creative Director Raul Lopez. Returning to New York Fashion Week after a hiatus due to the global pandemic, Lopez took an unconventional route to display a collection that brought the industry and audience to its knees.
Lopez penchant for thinking outside the box has made him a name to know in fashion circles for well over a decade, initially discovered by the masses for his designs as one of the co-founders of Hood by Air. Since launching Luar in 2011, the brand has experienced a meteoric rise that is impossible to ignore, his designs seen on some of the biggest names in entertainment, including Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and fashion mogul Rihanna.
The return of Luar to NYFW was reason enough for celebrities and industry titans to come out in full support and the brand did not disappoint, celebrating his Dominican heritage with each look showcased on the runway. As a brand that expertly navigates the intersection between streetwear and upscale luxury, Luar is known for using belts and accessories throughout his shirts, coats, and dresses to create asymmetrical pieces that are innovative and unforgettable. Highlights of the brand’s NYFW2023 offering included structured gowns with elaborate shoulder pads, pinstripe spherical suits, knit dresses embellished with feathers, caped hoodies, and a dynamic display of denim and fur that reminded enthusiasts of where Luar comes from and more importantly – where it the brand is going. Overall, a collection embracing a decidedly outre yet refined aesthetic that marries textiles and construction to precision.
Top Trends Seen at New York Fashion Week Fall 2023
New York Fashion Week started with a bang and ended just as spectacularly, and as expected, there were several trends seen on the runways across collections that promise to dominate the streets for the coming year. Pinstripes, the color red, huge totes, and metallic designs ruled the runways for several designers. A few of the other top trends include:
A Rose Is Still A Rose
Seen on several models this year were roses, whether on frilly lace dresses or on printed fabrics. One of the signature looks of love will be budding in closets your way in 5 4 3 2…
Several designers chose to seal their looks in ribbons and bows, seemingly gift-wrapping a look with a classic staple. The versatility and fun accessory makes for the perfect complement to a great outfit.
The Fishnet Effect
An iconic look that is always game for a comeback, fishnets were seen everywhere at NYFW this year, with several variations seen on the theme – featured across tops, over skirts, and even hats. From a custom label look to DIT, fishnets have come back to revitalize the upcoming seasons.
Hat and Headband Haze
Marrisa Wilson headbands
Newly minted Creative Director Pharrell Williams made oversized hats a big thing a few years ago, and fittingly, they came back with a vengeance on the runway in 2023. Expect hats and headbands in leather, knit, and more in the coming seasons as more labels present their signature headpieces.
The 80s were all about decadence and over-the-top fashion, and in 2023, large shoulder pads have returned in jackets and statement dresses as part of a draping trend many men and women are adopting as part of their look. The bold, provocative design is back!