To the naked eye, the clear trend on the runways at New York Fashion Week was nearly no clothes at all.
Nudity and varying levels of nakedness seemed to reign supreme for the Spring 2023 season at NYFW, which ended on Wednesday. Several labels put out barely there creations, like Prabal Gurung, who sent Vice President Kamala Harris’ model stepdaughter Ella Emhoff out in a shocking sheer green curtain-like garment tied around her neck which exposed her bare breasts.
Collina Strada boldly freed the nipple with a floral design constructed of wires and airbrushed areola that attached to a long pink chiffon dress. “Girls” star Jemima Kirke also walked the runway with a bikini top made out of flowers with the nipple area conveniently punched out.
Julia Fox wore a similarly experimental “dripping wet” outfit designed by a Parsons MFA student designer, Weiran, who saved even more risque designs for the runway.
At Puppets & Puppets one model was mere millimeters from a wardrobe malfunction with makeshift butterfly pasties, while Bella Hadid was a cough away from a similar fate for Fendi, which celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Baguette handbag.
At Sergio Hudson and Mowalola, nip slips were part of the program, as several models purposefully bared flesh.
LaQuan Smith showed a black bodysuit with cut outs and a thin string covering a model’s nipples while other looks from the designer beloved by Beyoncé and Rihanna weren’t so subtle, with completely sheer fabric and nary a bra in sight. Jason Wu also championed see-through, a trend certainly in the zeitgeist already thanks to Florence Pugh’s heavily debated Valentino dress.
Even Tory Burch, normally one for sophisticated sportswear, let the nip slip, sending models Vittoria Ceretti and Emily Ratajkowski in extraordinarily sheer knits and brassieres. All of these body-baring looks will undoubtedly have stylists for pop stars, Kardashians and other look-at-me peacocks clamoring to wear and bare.
While bras were largely ditched on the runway, plenty of street style stars and spectators skipped shirts altogether, donning just their bras at shows for shock and awe.
But beyond good ole fashioned skin, it’s tough to rally together trends in the era of TikTok where anything goes as long as it goes viral.
One immediate trend emerged — much to the nightmare of New Yorkers’ preferred head-to-toe black — and color is definitely back and bolder than ever, here to wipe away all muted tones from pandemic-era athleisure. The safe-for-work trend was omnipresent, as predicted by Pantone. Bright orange was a common thread, seen at Altuzarra, Supima Monse, Dion Lee, Naeem Khan and more.
Marni showed blood red during the Italian brand’s NYFW debut, purple at LaQuan Smith, bold shades of blue at Michael Kors, electric yellow and green at Proenza Schouler, which celebrated its 20th year, and Maisie Wilen, with lime green in a collection — and appearance from Emhoff — meant to showcase the art of the green screen. Telfar was a rainbow of perfection, and even sold an array of colorful Bushwick Birkin bags at a Brooklyn Rainbow store. This fad has been bubbling for a while, so those hoping to test out the rainbow can ease into color now before it really takes off come spring. Pantone summed it up as “individual expression,” so just pick a color, any color — but preferably neon — and rock it.
It’s also safe to say nostalgia for turn-of-the-millennium milieu isn’t going anywhere either, judging by Fendi’s furry hats, not unlike Pamela Anderson’s 1999 VMAs hat, jelly sandals worn by Lil Nas X at Coach and flared trousers with slits from Brandon Maxwell. Cargo pants, already making their way into fast fashion, were aplenty, with Dion Lee, Tibi, Fendi, Collina Strada and more channeling their best early aughts fashions. It’s Y2K all over again, without the hysteria.
Also, sending sincerest regards to fellow fashionistas still suffering PTSD from low-rise, but the cut really is back, seen at Prabal Gurung, Tom Ford, Puppets & Puppets, Fendi and too many more to name. The same goes for baring the navel in general, center stage at LaQuan Smith, Coach and the star-studded Vogue World show, which featured a multitude of brands and famous models like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid. This generation seems to have skipped belly button piercings, thankfully.
That’s not to say elegance is dead, though. Sergio Hudson had it in spades, Wes Gordon for Carolina Herrera put out a garden-inspired party full of fancy frocks, Michael Kors went for 1970s-inspired tailoring, Tom Ford showed “Dynasty”-esque sequin gowns and Serena Williams shined bright in a silver metallic Balenciaga dress at Vogue World. Christian Siriano and Pamella Roland could always be counted on for glam, as can New York high society’s go-to courtier Zang Toi, who went full haute couture with a modern black and white ball. After years of dressing down, glamour is in demand.
And yes, expect some florals for spring. Carolina Herrera, Ulla Johnson and Brandon Maxwell are doing it and doing it well. Malaysian-born Toi dazzled with a silk gazar minidress that included a hand-pinned arrangement of white silk peonies and butterflies covered in an intricate cloud of tulle, fashioned into a bolero. Now that’s groundbreaking.
For design buffs hoping to see real risks taken in form and fabric worth talking about, the Concept Korea show should not be overlooked. K-fashion labels like BESFXXK, Cahiers and ULKIN should be credited for inspiring structural designs and taken seriously as players in the landscape — much more than, say, Tommy Hilfiger, whose homage to Andy Warhol’s iconic Factory, a counterculture mecca of originality in the 1960s, somehow translated to Hilfiger’s tired stripe motif and preppy letterman jackets as well as, most puzzlingly, one-third of a Blink 182 performance.
Only the tin foil Silver Cloud re-creations and faces on the runway — Warhol Superstar Donna Jordan and Bob Colacello, longtime editor of Warhol’s Interview mag — were remotely Warholian in his highly anticipated return to NYFW on Monday. No wonder it rained.
If New York felt dizzying or uninspiring, it’s a long fashion month with London, Milan and Paris to look forward to.