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New York Fashion Week spring/summer 2023 highlights

Designers took to the NYFW runway with dramatic flair.

September 15, 2022
By Brooke Lefferts, Ragan Clark, Nardos Haile
15 September 2022

From sleek, sexy, streamlined, resort-wear meets the city at Michael Kors; to sheer, flowing, fabulousness at Tory Burch, blooming marvelous Brandon Maxwell featuring his mother’s favourite colour purple and Usain Bolt walking for Puma, New York’s spring/summer 2023 fashion shows are upon us.

Tory Burch embraces flats and flowy form

With a spectacular Hudson River sunset as a backdrop, models wearing dusty colors streamed onto a cement runway, as Tory Burch’s vision for spring and summer 2023 came to life during New York Fashion Week.

The open-air space at Pier 76 was unusually large for a fashion show, with two rows of seats lined up on either side of the runway and a giant Alexander Calder-inspired mobile dangling in the centre, catching the light. Burch said the venue celebrates the beauty of New York.

“To have a space like this with the sunset and just have something that was vast for the collection, I really wanted it to be focused, but have the space just sort of enhance it in a subtle way,” Burch said.

Model and actor Emily Ratajkowski was one of the first to strut the catwalk in a brown sheer top and jersey bandeau wrapped tightly around the top of a bright orange silk chiffon skirt that blew in the wind off the water.

One constant theme throughout the collection was sheerness: cotton and viscose tops with lace bras peeking through, and whole outfits covered with organza and silk that muted colors underneath. One T-shirt and long skirt was covered completely like a bubble with what Burch calls a “tech taffeta overlay.”

“I wanted it to be more architectural and richer than just a minimalist piece. I wanted women … to feel unencumbered, so I really was thinking about the concept of the shape and form of their bodies, where they can move and be as empowered as they are feeling today,” Burch said.

The overall colour palette was earth colors of brown, grey, olive, mustard and cream, but Burch often added a contrasting color like a bright white or yellow handbag, a shiny silver slingback flat or pea green mule.

There were many spring coats in the collection. A silk taffeta trench billowed easily in the river breeze, creating a lighter, freer look, and another – in stretch brown satin – took the classic staple up a glamour notch.

A shiny gold mid-length trench coat made of foiled leather was a standout look, and surely would brighten a rainy day. A calf-length silk shantung skirt with mirrored embroidery sparkled in the evening light.

The Burch brand – known for shoes and handbags – showed structured and boxy purses with double handles or short straps this season. The shoes were primarily very flat flats, another nod to comfort but with unique shapes that Burch said look “super interesting.”

“I really thought about the architecture behind those flats. There was a mule that had a built-in toe ring, but it’s the most comfortable shape and it’s also incredibly flattering.”

Celebrities in the front row included actors Sydney Sweeney, Jenna Coleman and Lana Condor, who called the collection “beautiful” and said she loved the show. “The flats are amazing. I saw a really, really cool one where it’s like the arch wasn’t there. It was just like the sole and then the heel and no arch.”

Saturday Night Live castmember Chloe Fineman said she’s a huge fan of Burch and is excited about the new collection. “I often said fashion before death,” Fineman joked. She was ogling the clothes but perhaps also taking notes. “This is my great love,” Fineman said. “My dream is to do a capsule collection with my sister.”

Michael Kors brings resort wear to the city

Michael Kors says he’s been doing some revenge travel since the pandemic and wants to help dress women who are doing the same.

“When I go to a resort, people are more dressed up than they’ve ever been before,” said Kors. “And the minute the weather gets warm in any big city, suddenly resort dressing comes to the city.”

Kors’ spring/summer 2023 collection features business wear and night-out looks with a resort-style sensibility. At his New York Fashion Week show, unbuttoned shirts billowed, fringe flowed and kaftans swept the floor as he focused on a more relaxed silhouette.

Semi-transparent linen pants were paired with a one-shoulder bodysuit and blazers were draped over dresses, blouses and crop tops in what Kors called an “urban-resort convergence.”

“You’re polished when you’re away on vacation and then you have a sense of easiness when you’re in this city,” Kors said.

Among those with a front row view of the new designs were Serena Williams, Anna Wintour, Anne Hathaway and Vanessa Hudgens.

“I grew up in a family of very strong, opinionated, successful women and I’ve been dressing women who are that smart and successful my whole career,” said Kors. “So, when I see someone like Serena, who truly is an icon, a game changer … it’s a wonderful validation that we must be doing something right.”

Bright reds, blues, pinks and greens brought pops of color to a collection featuring several monochrome white and black looks. Gold accessories, cutouts, small clutches and sequins added flare. In her second of two looks, A-list model and frequent Kors collaborator Bella Hadid wore a sequined black dress with a plunging neckline.

“People want to get dressed up again,” said Kors. “They want to look great; they want to make an impression.”

Beyond his goal of creating impressionable designs is his desire to make clothes that last. Before premiering his spring/summer line, Kors launched Michael Kors Pre-Loved, a resale market for gently used items from the designer.

“The worst thing in the world that you can do is engage in the whole idea of fast fashion,” said Kors. “We’ve always believed in timelessness, that people can hold on to something from Michael Kors.”

Brandon Maxwell blossoms in lilac

Home is where the heart is for Brandon Maxwell and it showed in his use of purple, his mother’s favourite colour, throughout his New York Fashion Week spring/summer collection.

Tuesday’s show at Christie’s New York in Rockefeller Plaza opened with moody blue lighting and the sound of chirping birds as if it was just before daybreak. The atmospheric lighting gradually shifted to an airy lilac, evoking sunrise in the countryside.

Opting for pastels, layering and relaxed symmetrical silhouettes, Maxwell focused on a theme of soft feminine beauty. He mixed neutrals with pastels like baby blue, sage green and blush pink in everyday staple closet pieces for women. The show opened with a blush pink layered look: silver sequined mini skirt layered with a classic white graphic T-shirt, glittery cardigan and a pink blazer with structured shoulders.

Maxwell, a Texas native, said his inspiration for the collection came when he moved out of New York City.

“So (the collection) is still inspired by the people that raised me because a lot of I think what went into this collection were like involuntary memories that have been triggered in my time, in the silence outside of the city that took me back to my youth and the things that I loved,” Maxwell said.

He said that’s reflected in the clothes and their late 90s, early 2000 vibe. “I think that that’s when I really came to love fashion and and so yeah, my family’s always in there,” he said.

Maxwell’s nostalgia was reflected in looks like denim overalls with a matching black sequined top embroidered with yellow sunflowers and a plunging v-neckline. Other looks included wide tan cargo pants with a matching strapless halter top layered under a white cotton tank top. The most notable 90s-inspired look was a sheer full-length tulle dress layered on top of a white graphic tank.

The show closed with another slouchy layered look, featuring a floor-length silvery skirt resembling a Monet painting paired with a white T-shirt, rose pink blazer and chunky platform heel.

Sitting in the front row were Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, TV personality La La Anthony, supermodel Karlie Kloss and singer Kelsea Ballerini.

“(Maxwell) just gets it. He’s versatile, fits all body types (like) curvy like mine, which I love. He just gets it,” Anthony said.

Usain Bolt walks for Puma

Athlete Usain Bolt discovered a new talent for modelling as he walked the runway for Puma.

Describing his “look” as a “a tuxedo mixed with the classic jacket”, Bolt said “It’s definitely different walking this slow. I was just following all the models. They said ‘slow it down, enjoy the moment,’ so I did just that. For me, it was wonderful. A great job by June (Ambrose) as always and I’m excited just to be a part of this.”

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