Forget What’s Trendy, Think Thematically

Yes, sure, there were socks and boots and dresses aplenty but what does it all mean?


It is a universal truth worth reiterating that a fashion trend, like a fresh flower, is ephemeral. A seed is planted, cultivated, nurtured and then eventually, neglected. By the time it begins to blossom and is liable to metastasize, its creator is already harvesting a new birth elsewhere.

The only immortal property trends and flowers share is one of fairy dust. It’s how they make you feel, which is closely tethered to the amaranthine themes that support them from behind and push us, the spectators, who are consistently hungry for performance, to continue to want to indulge and participate in such fleeting experiences.

So, we can sit here and wax poetic on the infinite trends that let down their curtains last week in New York. We can continue on that trajectory through Milan and Paris. We can divide the trends into sub-trends and those sub-trends into micro-details that you can replicate at home, but what’s the use? By the time we’re all sitting on the same train clad in uniform muppet plaids, a handful of us will be jumping off, barebacked and eager to start farming at the intersections of unfamiliar and au courant. So let’s talk about the indelible affections, the bones over skin, the themes that make the trends go round.

1. Contemporary Designers Plus Edge


The fall/winter season of New York was not one of superfluity. Contemporary designers, like Rebecca Minkoff, Tory Burch and Tibi, previously known for their youthful and flowery takes on consumable fashion, became edgier. Case in point: the navy blue skirt/turtleneck looks plus thigh high socks of Tory Burch, the pinstriped pants and corresponding suit jackets of Rebecca Minkoff and though Tibi has been driving down this particular highway long enough to call herself a pro, there was a je ne sais English girl-vibe about the collection that came replete with thick wool overcoats, flat top hats and raw denim.

Is this the indirect result of Alexander Wang’s incipient ethos?

2. Collections Chock Full of Different Girls


At Rodarte, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Cushnie et Ochs, models did not encompass the spirit of one woman. Rodarte created clothes for the ethereal, the funky and the Star Wars obsessed while Marc by Marc Jacobs honed in on an athletic, motorcycle riding broad on the one hand and a tea-drinking femme, with her full skirts and large ankle-length skirts on the other. Cushnie et Ochs enmeshed its two women, delivering the sexy maverick dresses that have become endemic to its name with the dichotomous and vaguely cowboy-inspired hats that rested atop their heads.

3. They Know What They’re Good At


Some designers delegate power to their wearers but in a way that doesn’t compromise their own influence. Wes Gordon, Narciso Rodriguez, Jason Wu, J. Crew and Derek Lam made sure their aesthetics remained emphatically their own. The collections were effectively continuing sentences that they’ve been writing over time and they appeared confidently rectified where grammatical blunders may have previously stood.

4. The Shifting Paradigm


The designers of legion three run counter to those of legion four, which include Prabal Gurung, Band of Outsiders, Theory (namely because it has dropped its Theyskens’) and quite notably, Coach — all of which have cornered their respective markets and excelled at that. We know, for example, that Prabal could do a beautiful evening gown. But did we really understand that he maintained skillfulness in knitwear as well? There is an admirable sense of hubris that comes with these designers, who are willing to abandon what they know to try what they don’t.

5. Gender Ambiguity


Public School, Michael Kors, Lacoste, Opening Ceremony and Richard Chai used both men and women in their collections and as Vogue’s Katherine Bernard put it in a story on post-gender dressing (specifically in relation to Hood by Air), “there was no way to differentiate between the sexes.” Women in menswear, men in womenswear, women in menswear that looks like womenswear and vice versa. Does the future of dressing neglect a person’s gender?

We’ll see who plants what.

Get more Fashion ?
  • When I first began writing about fashion, i often wondered how trends came about and which ones were ones that would actually be incorporated beyond the catwalk. I definitely agree with this article (if there is room for opinion on an opinion!) im also interested in seeing which brands stick around longer.

    i write fashion columns. hope you enjoy, as well. xo

  • I love your last comment about Gender Ambiguity. I think good fashion is good on its own, and does not need to be limited to a gender category. At one point, it was unheard of for women to wear pants!
    It’s exciting for women to indulge in the fine tailoring of menswear, and I imagine it is thrilling for adventurous men to step out and try the different fabrics and silhouettes that one would not normally associate with menswear. At the end of the day, this just gives everyone more options to good things.
    In addition, lately I find that I feel more polished and ladylike when I am wearing some type of menswear. I think the contrast is nice, like when you mix modern furniture with antique pieces. It makes you appreciate both a little more.

  • Tayler

    I don’t know if neglet is the right word. Unless you’d like to and want to personally neglect your own gender and your preference is to not dress like your birthed gender. But I really like this movement of fashion that ignores it. Creating shapes and sillhouette that aren’t targeted to neither men specifically or womens specifically. I think it’s probably my favorite thing about todays “fashion” and industry.

    • Leandra Medine

      i like your point about my use of the word neglect and its implications — what word would you have replaced it with?

      • Tayler

        I think being rightfully “passive” about gender would be how I’d go about it. Even with the analogy, something less agressive like forgotten would work. Or the idea that gender is dying as a source of inspiration in design and how that fits in directly with the idea of gender in todays society.

        • Leandra Medine

          Passive it is — thanks!

          • “forego” might be the better choice.

    • JO

      Would like to point out that one is not born into a gender category. Gender is learned. It’s social.

      • Tayler

        Absolutely. I think both parties are aware. But its the ability to strategically overlook that in a way that isn’t abrubt that some designers have become quite brilliant at.

        • JO

          I think that they are not overlooking it at all…quite the opposite. They seem to be (I agree, brilliantly) defying the ‘rules’ of gender. Exposing them by virtue of ignoring them.

          • Tayler

            That’s what I meant by “strategically”…

          • JO

            right on!

  • The irony of trends is really coincidence. designers just create stuff in the hopes that it will catch on and just so happen multiple designers produce similar looks that we the buyers turn into bandwagon looks. Great write-up btw!

  • Chrissabella

    That has to be my favourite fashion week write up, loved reading it!

    Greetings from London,

  • Very inspirational post!

  • Really like reading about your view on trends!

  • Stephanie

    Very interesting point of view! I’m starting to wonder if we’ll begin to stop focusing on gender in clothing types. I love this revolution that we’re starting where women are wearing menswear type styles! It’s liberating, and it correlates with the same evolution of women’s independence that we’ve been experiencing for decades.

  • Dancingcheektocheek

    Does the future of dressing neglect a person’s gender? I hope not. Boyish clothing is a cute contrast on ladies when their hair and face appear very feminine but a mannish woman trend would be aesthetically disturbing.

  • Johanna J

    beautiful and articulate

  • MargaretInArabia

    Brilliant summation of NYFW. For my closet, the takeaway is know what you’re good at and give it an edge–when so inclined.

  • All of these trends are so eclectic and unique… Love them all!