New York Fashion Week did not feature some of the big names and staple designers we are accustomed to seeing on the runway. Tommy Hilfiger, Altuzarra, Rodarte and other prestigious names decided to show their collections elsewhere this year, which opened the floor to some new talent. The vacancies were filled by designers from all over the world. Many viewed this change of pace and newfound wider representation perfectly timed considering the current state of global affairs.
Among the new faces taking the runway this year was Vaishali S, an Indian designer based in Mumbai. Vaishali’s looks are the perfect blend of contemporary fashion and culture. She showcased a handcrafted collection inspired by the elements of her homeland. The collection featured predominantly neutral colors, clearly inspired by the traditional sari; but instead of simply layering shawls and dresses, Vaishali presented them on sheer A-line dresses and skirts.
Vaishali described the collection by saying, “This collection is all about going back to your roots. I choose my own thread, and I make my own fabrics, and I create my own silhouettes. Everything is handcrafted. That’s the beauty of the collection.” She is hoping that the opportunity will allow Vaishali S to establish itself in the United States market.
Runa Ray, another Indian designer featured at New York Fashion Week, decided to take a more political approach to her collection. Her clothes celebrate the beauty of nature, while urging guests to also preserve it. Ray used completely natural materials to bolster the point. Possibly the most iconic piece was The Bleeding Dress, which read “Imagination is the Only Weapon Against Reality.”
Ray used handwoven and organically dyed fabrics, such as bamboo cottons and silks, pomegranate peels, and areca nuts. The fabrics were then dipped in aloe vera to “create a medicinal benefit.” The designer said, “Together we can save our planet from ecological waste and fast fashion. Fashion can be a powerful tool to educate and push people to join in saving and preserving our planet.”
Cindy Monteiro is just 27 years old, and hails from Cape Verde. New York Fashion Week marked not only her first visit to the United States, but also her debut to the U.S. market. Like many of the other international designers, Monteiro used her heritage as inspiration for her collection.
The collection is called Bernadina, and featured raw materials, such as cotton line and jute line, with embellishments of shells and sugar cane. The models walked barefoot down the runway, adorned with simple materials expertly made into intricate designs. The young designer used shells, beading and leaves to transport guests to an island destination.
There is no doubt about it—This is an exciting time in fashion. What an honor to have designers from all over the globe share not only their designs, but their cultures as well. It is truly a testament to the power of art, which has the ability to bridge gaps, share worlds, express ideas and be a force for change. Hopefully this is just a glimpse of things to come and the NYFW runway will be graced with even more new faces in the future.
(Photos by Thos Robinson)