10 Most Unforgettable Collections of NYFW

by Charles Manning

In a season full of beautiful collections, these stick out as some of the most memorable. (Presented in no particular order.) 

1. Oscar de la Renta
History, architecture, religion — these were the starting points for Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia’s latest collection for Oscar de la Renta. The duo were inspired by the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, Spain, with its ornate interior and vibrant hues. The results were outstanding. The textiles, as always at ODLR, were to die for, but it was Kim and Garcia’s cuts that showcased the lavishness of texture this season. Cocktail dresses gave a youthful undercut to overwhelming patters, while structured outerwear served as a canvas for beautiful embroidery. And the gowns? Show stopping.

2. Dion Lee
Is it possible for a collection to be architectural and romantic? Structured and flowing? Constrained and free? Yes to all, as evidenced by Dion Lee’s stunning Fall 2019 collection. Dichotomy has always been an important aspect of the brand, but this season, Lee’s ability to balance opposing aesthetic forces was striking. Without a doubt, those corsets will be everywhere in six months — from the pages of magazine to the backs (and busts) of the world’s top street style stars.

3. Marc Jacobs
Marc Jacobs closed out Fashion Week with a glorious collection that reveled in volume and bold choices. A citrine off-the-shoulder gown worn by Adut Akech seems destined for red carpet greatness. Feathers abounded, giving a heavy dose of glamour to the collection, which was more tightly edited than in season’s past, but no less magnificent for it.

4. Brandon Maxwell
Brandon Maxwell presented his Fall 2019 collection with an intimate show at the Penn Plaza Pavilion in Midtown Manhattan. The collection continued to build on his brand’s defining aesthetic of streamlined silhouettes and nipped-in waists, which paraded down the runway in a monochromatic color palate with pops of neon green and candy apple red. That is not to say Maxwell didn’t shake things up a bit. Though he has long favored fit and tailoring over flashy prints and embellishment, this season he dressed things up a bit with subtle details like zippers and fringe.

5. Tory Burch
For Fall 2019, designer Tory Burch took particular inspiration from Black Mountain College, which, founded in North Carolina in 1933, is known for its unconventional approach to education and for shaping the trajectory of modern art in America. “This season is a mix-match of revamped classics,” said Burch in her show notes. “Floral prints, graphic stripes, menswear materials and romantic silhouettes. There’s a modern eccentricity to raw fringe, exaggerated ruffles, knife pleats, cut-glass jewelry, deconstructed bags and sharp boots.” The overall look was similar to what Burch has done in the past — the designer certainly has a signature style — but that’s not a bad thing, especially not when the results are this charming.

6. Gabriela Hearst
Gabriela Hearst’s refined, if stoic, Fall 2019 collection highlighted the tailoring that has made the designer a star. This season she was inspired by the life of Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya. “The abundance of inspiration from Maya’s remarkable and resilient career is a creative team’s bounty,” Hearst said in a statement. “She grew up in one of the most oppressive and murderous regimes in history. Her childhood was full of trauma; her father was assassinated by Stalin, leaving the family with the mark of ‘enemy of the people.’ Her mother was incarcerated in the Gulag with a newborn infant for refusing to betray her husband.” The designer’s biggest strength this season was in the smallest of details — she used replicas of Uruguayan coins for buttons, and recycled cashmere was used in an effort to reduce the collection’s environmental impact.

7. Tom Ford
Ford’s Fall 2019 collection wasn’t wild and it wasn’t trendy. It was just chic. And, honestly, that’s enough (and more than many designers these days seem capable of TBH). “I always begin each collection as a reaction to the previous season,’ said Ford, “and last season I returned to what I feel that I do best and that is to make clothes that are chic, desirable, modern and wearable. Clothes that are not ironic, or clever but simply clothes that are beautiful. Clothes that enhance the wearer’s lives. That make one feel more attractive and secure. This collection is a continuation of that spirit.”

8. Tomo Koizumo
Designer Giles Deacon turned Katie Grand on to Tomo Koizumi’s work after discovering him on Instagram. Grand was so enamored of Koizumo’s work that she decided to rally her substantial network of industry professionals, supermodels, and celebrities to put on the Japanese designer’s first ever runway show at Marc Jacobs’ Madison Ave. boutique. The collection might not be terribly wearable, but it is the most joyful and wonderfully editorial debuts to happen at NYFW in many years and that’s certainly worth celebrating.

9. Michael Kors Collection
Fall is often Michael Kors’ strongest season; it just lends itself so well to the earthy colors and luxurious textures that are his hallmarks, but this collection was particularly lovely. An ode to New York in the 1970s, references ranged from Bianca Jagger and Studio 54, to Roseland and the Russian Tea Room.

10. Longchamp
For her second show at New York Fashion Week, creative director Sophie Delafontaine captured the free-spirited energy of women who rove the globe with a rock ‘n’ roll attitude and a wardrobe to match. Billowy silk dresses and pleated skirts in embroidered tulle or wool gauze were juxtaposed with crisp black leather tops and architectural coats.

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