On its final day, NYFW fuses fun and activism
The final day of this September's New York Fashion Week schedule capped off a week of live streams, fashion films and lookbook reveals, with a Thursday marked by surprise collaborations and designers using their platform to promote social and political causes.
The shortest day on the CFDA's NYFW calendar -- outside of the unexpected Sunday lineup -- the day included streamed presentations from Faith Connexion, a "collective-driven brand" composed of multiple young creatives: Taiwanese brand OqLiq; Jato Group-owned womenswear brand Amen; New York City-based brand Tanya Taylor; British designer Christian Cowan; and Christian Siriano.
Instead of showing her namesake brand's spring 2021 collection, designer Tanya Taylor chose to use her time slot on the NYFW schedule to encourage audiences to vote. With the United States presidential election coming this November, Taylor presented a video emphasizing how watching a fashion show takes more time than it takes to register to vote.
"Registering to vote only takes two minutes, which is less time than most things you do every single day," Taylor says in the video's intro. "Just ask some of our friends."
As the video continues, multiple celebrities -- including Mindy Kaling, Hillary Clinton, Stephanie Beatriz, Aurora James, Rosario Dawson, Stacy London, Michelle Buteau, Michelle Kwan and Sasheer Zamata, among others -- are shown doing a variety of tongue-in-cheek activities that take them longer than two minutes, including hula hooping, making tea and getting their makeup removed.
The video's final moments include the message, "Fashion can wait. Registering to vote can't," before showing a link to register through the Tanya Taylor website.
British designer Christian Cowan brought his famed avant-garde eye to a spring 2021 collaboration, with rapper and rising style icon Lil Nas X, for a collection to benefit youth in the rapper's hometown of Atlanta.
Modeled in a fashion film by 28 beloved members of the LGBTQ+ community and the fashion world -- including Lil Nas X, Amanda Lepore, Marc Jacobs, Violet Chachki, Jari Jones and Rachel Cargle, among others -- the collection exhibited Cowan's classic playfulness and theatricality: feathers from the shoulder to the floor; latex gowns with bows; dresses drenched in Swarovski crystals; and shiny pink suits, along with more everyday pieces like t-shirts co-branded with both Cowan's and Lil Nas X's names; decorated with large graphic safety pins. Looks were styled to have a high-energy punk feel, with models sporting liberty spikes, spiked collars and black combat boots.
100% of proceeds from the collection will benefit queer youth through a new fund set up with the Loveland Foundation. Founded in 2018 by one of the collection's campaign stars, activist and academic Rachel Cargle, the organization typically focuses on benefiting communities of color, particularly Black women and girls.
Closing out the calendar, Christian Siriano was one of very few designers to hold a live fashion show -- complete with socially-distanced guests -- in his own home's backyard in Westport, Connecticut.
Evoking the fun and glamour of the 80's and 90's, the designer's spring 2021 collection combined dramatic ruffles with bolero hats; massive puff sleeves with opera gloves; lace corsets with billowing satin pants; and bra tops with huge tulle skirts; all interspersed between the designer's signature red carpet-ready gowns (including a butter yellow, translucent floor-length number covered in hovering white, pink and red daisies -- stems included).
Like Tanya Taylor, Siriano also took the opportunity to advocate for voter participation by presenting multiple looks emblazoned with the word "vote", including a full-length black gown.
Models were a variety of body types, and all looks were accessorized with matching face masks, as well as Sarah Jessica Parker footwear.
Closing out the show, a pregnant Coco Rocha modeled a massive crimson gown complete with a ruffled train, before jumping into Siriano's backyard pool.
“I wanted this to be an escape for everybody — fantasy, to have fun with fashion,” the designer told Vogue.
Siriano's show served as an appropriate end to a NYFW that saw designers existing in the same emotional tug-of-war being experienced by the masses; pulled between hope for a new tomorrow and a longing for past joys.
In the midst of a pandemic, brands had to lean heavily on digital tools that made their presentations more accessible than ever -- a detail that didn't go unnoticed, as many brands made an effort to show that the fashion world is ready to acknowledge the important issues of the tumultuous present.
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