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NYFW: S/S 2014

NYFW 14

Two times a year New York finds itself at the centre of the fashion industry’s attention, playing host to a whirlwind week of world-renowned runway shows, up-and-coming design presentations, branded after-parties and a seemingly never-ending parade of street style action. While some may argue that the fashion capital holds the gaze of enthusiasts gazes all year long, it’s these two special occasions that have designers, models, photographers, journalists, publicists, and the obsessed public on the edge of their seats.

NYFW 14

BCBG Max Azria

New York Fashion Week is a display of countless collections that guide much of the designs that fast fashion will latch onto over each next six month stretch. Serving as a compass for what will inevitably hot or not, the S/S shows give you a sneak peek of what textiles, silhouettes and intricate details to be on the lookout for as you shop ahead for warmer months. While we may be just heading into autumn, these shows are the perfect indication of what to expect ahead, and keeping up with the do’s and dont’s lends insider information to the trend curve before it is even happening.

Fashion week, no matter the city, is all about trend forecasting and devoted fashionistas make it a point to seek out what’s next to allow ample time to secure the pieces or inspirations seen on the runway, and translate them into real world style. Here, you’ll find the best and worst of NYFW’s S/S 14 trends, to navigate the fashion field before you even step foot onto it.

NYFW S/S 14 Highlights

Donna Karan 14
Donna Karan 
Tracy Reese 14

Tracy Reese

Anytime a designer is taking risks, it’s a call to attention, and a stir of the pot that should be appreciated by any fashion-lover. Risks, good or bad, equivocate wow-factor, and when more and more of this tenant is missing from the fashion ladder, it’s important to stand up and take notice of those who are doing something different. Outside the norm outweighs playing it safe, and for Spring/Summer 14 this means throwing tradition out the warm-weather window.

In a much-needed scoff to cliche collections, a few American designers stood out amongst the crowd showcasing surprising lace and embroidery numbers, flowing, full-length silhouettes, and exotic elements. In a line-up which now feels run by recycled basics, crop tops and short, structured silhouettes, it was easy to see why Donna Karan, Rodarte, and Tracy Reese left lasting impressions. Refreshing Latin vibes, Marrakech moments, and opulent sheer overlays added something special to a stereotypically sporty season.

NYFW S/S 14 Disappointments

Michael Kors 14

Michael Kors

We were less than thrilled to see a sea of khaki, navy, and green shades, from some of the biggest names in the game like Michael Kors. Needless to say, these major players should know better, and instead of resting on their laurels, should continue to aspire to push boundaries. Collection after collection, season after season, it’s not about outdoing other brands, it’s about making brand history. Neoprene everything was a big snooze at the Tommy Hilfiger shows, considering the incorporation of the beach-ready textile already blew our minds a few years back.

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Tommy Hilfiger

Few things are more disappointing than when a label designs for current trends with an attempt to ride on others’ success. It’s great for a brand to build a recognisable aesthetic, but there’s a difference between signature style and regurgitated style. Designers are leaders that should help the industry’s creativity and art progress. Progress isn’t made by designing in circles, it’s made by making innovative strides and running forward from the pack.

NYFW S/S 14 Trends

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Alice + Olivia

Origami construction led the shapes, draping and structure of spring and summer’s upcoming designs. Proving that there’s a push for (what we imagine to be) futuristic dressing, the lines of clothing for this season seemed to mesh intricacies with a clean aesthetic.

Unique folds, full-length pleats, and deconstructed designs ruled the tents in terms of silhouettes, and although simplistic, the boxy styles certainly aren’t basic in composition. Creases, casing and architectural elements showcase stunning talents, and the execution of smooth and controlled construction only validates these designers’ discipline.

Modern and minimal garments were mixed and matched at Thakoon and pleated ball gown separates swept the runway floors at Alice + Olivia. DKNY blends halves of a white blouse and double-breasted trench coat, while BCBG Max Azria dismantles and reinterprets basics.

philliplim

3.1 Phillip Lim

Exotic inspirations were sprinkled like glimmering jewels throughout collections. Models made their way down the catwalk in Eastern-centric shades, intricate embellishments, and elaborate embroidery designs. Jenny Packham and Jil Sander packed on the spice in saturated mustard-hued garments, and Rachel Comeyadded added her own flavour to the mix by featuring paprika-peppered dresses.

Prabal Gurung draped his leading ladies head-to-toe floral branch prints, while it was all about the needle work over at 3.1 Phillip Lim. Rich in colour, detail, and pattern, these are the designs you’ll be using to pop your basics with a surprising statement come spring.

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Ralph Lauren

The retro revival was also out in full force, as army after army of models were decked out in 50′s and 60s influences. From picnic plaid fabrics to dresses that looked to be designed with Twiggy in mind, a nod to this golden era is an understatement. Expected from the always classic Kate Spade camp and Marc by Marc Jacobs’ constant obsession with the swinging 1960s and 1970s, Oscar de le Renta, Carolina Herrera and Derek Lam all joined the ranks this time around.

Polka dot prints, florals, and tea-length dresses combined for an ultra-feminine composition at Oscar de la Renta. Glammed up gingham at Derek Lam turned a once casual table cloth pattern into an uber-chic, new neutral. Recycling trends is common amongst the design world, as consumers crave a good play on nostalgia.

NYFW S/S 14 Details

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Trina Turk

The difference between fashion and style is all in the details. Fashion can be left to describe clothing, the singular pieces, the haute couture items themselves. Accessories on the other hand often fall into the style category, as they are the selections used to tell a story. This season’s stories varied differently between casual and occasion dressing.

Flats in every flavour were seen keeping looks light and easy – boat shoes, birkenstocks, grecian sandals and beyond. Jewellery ranged from fun and flirty pearls and lady-like gloves to dress up retro inspirations, and dainty floral hair pieces sprouted from more casual looks at shows like Honor. No matter the aesthetic, the running accessory theme seemed to circle back to the idea of simplicity, a welcomed change from the gaudy and baroque styles we’ll be wearing for autumn and winter.

NYFW S/S 14 Beauty

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Narcisco Rodriguez
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Rag & Bone

During the summer months, we want to stay fresh and avoid clogging up our pores with too much make up. Often, we find the make up a little too heavy, which is why we were happy to welcome the nude faces and minimal makeup showcased for S/S 14. The focus appeared to be on glowing skin, which any beauty enthusiast knows can be achieved with the help of a little tinted moisturizer or BB cream, and a sweeping of bronzer and highlighter to accentuate the features. Little to no eye makeup and just a simple colour pop on the lips (coral or orange are the way to go) were additional wins for the old wallet.

Honor Hair

Honor

As far as hair goes, stylists are keeping us on opposite ends of the spectrum next season. This means playing it tight with a slicked back look, or going wild with a voluminous and untamed mane. Anything that falls in between, well, falls flat. Whether you choose to go minimal or over the top, either is a successful bet when you ditch last year’s oversized floral crowns and finish your look off with dainty trend-right floral touches ala Honor.

Just like any year in New York, the American aesthetic ran the gamut, and while there’s plenty of unconventional trends to try for S/S 14 our best advice for pulling them off is working them in intermittently. Step outside your comfort zone, try out a new idea that speaks to you, and take higher risks for higher rewards and return. Looking forward to London fashion week!

African Designers Struggle to Make an Impact on The Fashion World

Dutch wax Prints often used by African Designers

Do you know any designers from the African continent?

Chances are good that you will say, ‘No.’ There are various reasons for this as African designers are faced with a multitude of challenges when attempting to enter the international fashion industry and hence struggle to make an impact on global fashion.

Firstly, there is the perception that African fashion is a type of curio fashion. Something that you buy at the end of a Safari trip like a printed a-line skirt, a kaftan or a Zulu hat. The fact of the matter is that this massive continent has no reason to step back when it comes to variety of styles, design talent or contemporary application of world fashion trends. Although many African designers draw inspiration from their African roots the results are a fresh new take on current fashion. Nikki Sher, liaisons officer for African Fashion International feels that all designers, irrespective of their origin, have something special to offer as all creatives express themselves differently.

As a result, designer styles vary from South African label Lunar Clothing’s etherial, ethical design esthetic, through the use of Ankara prints in Nigeria’s Ella and Gabby Tropical Sophistication AW13 collection right to Moroccan maverick Amine Bendriouich’s twist on the use of wax prints in his casual men’s wear collection for Fashion Week Tunis 2013. The majority of African designers that have successfully managed to break into the global market have studied abroad and generally do not live on the Africa anymore. Testament to this is Africa Fashion Week London, which highlights the industry’s established and emerging African designers. Capturing the surge of African inspired trends in the fashion industry, this event aims to elebrate the work of African and African inspired designers in the UK and worldwide. While this is admirable, it encourages those with the talent and the means to stay abroad and, as a result, fuel the success of the fashion industry in a country that is not their own.

Africa Fashion Week London Catwalk

Photo from Africa Fashion Week London

African designers have developed an understanding of world fashion trends and the application of their own African handwriting in their interpretation of it. However, the skewed perception of what African fashion encompasses needs a paradigm shift into the truth of what designers from Africa have to offer. Sher believes that is always beneficial to showcase in international fashion weeks as it will give the brand exposure, but brands need to keep up constant brand awareness in the international target market. Ideally too, they should aim to develop resources and talent at home.

Amine Bendriouich’s exclusively designed Dutch Wax Prints

Fashion Week Tunis  2013

Moroccan Amine Bendriouch FWT 2013

The opportunities are ample with many African countries having their own fashion weeks or even two. Fashion Weeks have sprung up all over even in unlikely places like Zimbabwe. Besides national fashion weeks there are also many collective efforts such as Africa Fashion Week annually hosted by African Fashion International in Johannesburg South Africa. Additional off continent Africa Fashion Weeks in London, Barcelona, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Toronto have also become portals to international markets. The platforms to promote African designers seem to be in place. What is stopping them from getting to the next level? Lucilla Booyzen, the founder and director of South African Fashion Week(SAFW), does not beat around the bush when it comes to this subject. Her 17 years of experience in taking South African designers to trade shows and Fashion weeks abroad give her the liberty to speak authoritatively when she says, “It is a total waste of time and money if no business comes from it.  For a designer to be away from their business for a week or more is not good business practice especially if they are struggling to make it in their own country.  No big designer in the world will just leave their business and be part of any event that brings no business. If the African designers were business ready it would be another story.”

Once designers have managed to pass through the red tape of getting exposure on an international level and manage to secure orders, the true challenges arise. Often buyers are wary of ordering from African designers for logistical reasons, time needed to produce the orders and fear of the unknown. These designers often do not have the means to produce orders abroad and therefore benefit from the cheaper labour available in other countries.

Though fortunes are spent by international sponsors for Fashion Weeks such as Mercedes Benz, those sponsorships could be put to better use by supporting designers in producing and supplying their actual orders. The aim of these events are slightly misguided as the back up needed to reach the goal of taking goods to market and ultimately delivering, is non existent. One cannot hold every designer’s hand when it comes to creating a successful business but the exercise somehow wags the dog. Booyzen points out that African designers are not serious enough about the business of fashion. Once designers start taking their trade seriously, stop expecting hand outs and fully understand their business, they will fly.

Bad attitudes aside, there are other flawed systems that impact on the designers ability to reliably produce goods. Quality fabrics and trimmings are often limited creating an unnecessary price hike that push the garment into an unreasonably high retail category. Availability and delivery issues  also cause problems before production is even started. Courier and postal services leave designers waiting for fabrics to arrive or struggling to get them to their client. For first small orders that are placed by buyers, the initial make-up and shipping costs can be exorbitant. The size of Africa is very often underestimated. The lack of infrastructure in a developing country can be immensely challenging. Buyers concerns are quality issues and return policies. A way around these problems would be foreign investment into the training and education within the clothing production sector so that economies can grow under the guidance of experts in this field and therefore create peace of mind for buyers. However many African designers do not produce massive quantities at a time and often produce their small orders in-house. Often the local labour is expensive.

LUNAR Clothing at South African Fashion Week 2013

Photograph by Simon Deiner

Etherial, conscious design esthetic by Lunar Clothing
African governments notoriously fail their designers by not supporting the the manufacturing industry and setting up trade partnerships within Africa and beyond its borders that will benefit this sector. African designers have to compete with cheap Chinese imports in a already struggling market. Allana Finley, Founder of Herstorian Productions is of the opinion that governments can do more for the clothing and textile industry in the form of fashion councils or federations. With the new saying of Africa being “Trade not Aid,” the manufacturing, clothing and textile sectors can continue to be a great contributor to a country’s GDP. Governments should look to the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) and the BFC (British Fashion Council) as examples.

With the world constantly shrinking, opportunities arise daily for designers to explore new markets and to put their goods “out there” through the use of social media and online stores. African designers have ample opportunity to create highly successful businesses. Many of their challenges don’t differ from the ones faced by South Americans or designers from other developing countries. Booyzen advises that designers need to take themselves seriously and build their businesses, not their egos. They need to know world trends, learn to interpret them and design keeping their culture in mind. They should not  be designing costumes and should invest in visiting fashion weeks and stores around the world to see current trends are, keeping that in mind whilst designing.  “If you want to play in world fashion you need to know world fashion – it  is as competitive as banking.”

At the end of the day, Africa needs to help itself – even in fashion. It should not matter where a designer is from or what their challenges are. Finlay points out that with international recognition comes people looking more closely at the product and the competition is fierce for a well made, cost competitive, quality product that lasts in the market.

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NYFW 14

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Dutch wax Prints often used by African Designers

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