Walk This Way

Walk This Way

by Liz Black

Writer Liz Black Reviews The New York Runways that are Reshaping Fashion Week

When I began attending New York Fashion Week ten years ago, the sartorial landscape looked drastically different. No plus models strutted down the catwalk and no high-end designers seemed to even consider plus size women as potential customers. I was often the biggest woman in every room, and frequently felt scrutinized by the majority of thinner people who permeate the industry. Thankfully, so much has changed since then. Runways have become more body diverse, designers have expanded their size ranges, and inclusivity has begun evolving from a buzzword to an actual goal by many forward-thinking designers.

These five 11 Honoré designers spoke candidly about their inspiration, decisions about expanding their sizing, and what they’re lusting over for spring.

MARA HOFFMAN
Spring 2019 Collection look from Mara Hoffman / PHOTO: VOGUE RUNWAY

MARA HOFFMAN

Showcasing in a room filled with melodic jazz and sprays of beautiful blooms, Mara Hoffman offered a clean pallet of predominantly neutral hues, spiced by pops of vibrant orange, puce green, and a subtle peppering of prints. Graceful dresses, puff sleeve details, and semi-structured separates dominated the scene. “[I’m] creating a versatile, joyful collection that women actually want to wear and feel good wearing it,” explained Hoffman. “Very timeless pieces that are going to be in your closet for a long time and not just be like a trend moment. The theme of the presentation was ‘hosting a funeral’ and the idea that we're here to let things go; bury it back in the earth. Look at it, love it, learn from it, put it back in.”

This season marked the first that Hoffman cast plus size models, and we’re confident that we will continue to see increasing body-diversity from the designer. “It's part of our world and that's what we've been building towards, and making sure we're speaking to all the women who love us and all the women we love back and trying to do it in a elegant way where she's represented,” mused Hoffman. “Each season we keep adding [in plus sizes] to what our bandwidth is capable of doing. So this season is more pieces than we had from the season before; so each season we're growing until hopefully one day it can be the whole collection.”

CHRISTIAN SIRIANO
Spring 2019 Collection look from Milly / Photo: Greg Kessler

MILLY

Boldly feminine with a sporty bent, Milly’s spring/summer ‘19 collection exploded in vibrant color, with neon notes, abstract painterly prints, and futuristic-yet-totally-now silver chrome sets. Effortlessly-chic maxi dresses in a rainbow of hues and angular asymmetric pleated skirts set the tone for an easy-breezy collection, but athletic-inspired streetwear offered a structured balance, providing a counterweight style for those not taken by the dramatic dresses. “My collection is called ‘Metamorphosis’ and its about taking flight and embracing new stages in your life, and beautiful inside and out, feeling amazing and going for it,” explained Milly designer Michelle Smith. With such a variety of designs, Smith clearly intended for a piece to appeal to every life stage, providing stylish options for every opportunity. Stuck on what to invest in for spring? Fret not, as Smith advised, “A flowy dress...fun for all body types, and makes you feel easy and effortless!”

CHROMAT
Spring 2019 Collection look from Chromat / PHOTO: GETTY

CHROMAT

When I think of the epitome of diversity on the runway, only one brand comes to mind: Chromat. Designer Becca McCharen-Tran shows us season after season that she truly understands that there is beauty in inclusivity, and for spring/summer ‘19 she’s directly calling out the designers who are woefully outdated with the addition of her “Sample Size” t-shirts (which is also her must-have item for spring). “[The t-shirts] were to force the question for everyone, because I feel like that's the major thing that designers cite when they say why they don't have plus size models on the runway is that they don't have multiple sample sizes,” exclaimed McCharen-Tran, “And I wanted to prove once and for all that it's the designers’ choice what size to make the samples in.”

Besides McCharen-Tran’s statement t-shirts and gorgeously inclusive model casting, her sporty aesthetic took a slightly witty and irreverent turn for spring/summer. “This season we were inspired by wet t-shirts, and specifically when you're too embarrassed to wear swim in public and you put a ginormous shirt on top and swim in a t-shirt, so we wanted to reimagine that moment and make it high-fashion, make it something to be proud of,” explained McCharen-Tran. “And so we wanted to explore the vulnerability that comes with being in swim. We collaborated with a great black woman photographer named Dana Scruggs, and she shot models wearing wet t-shirts and we used her photos as the print of the collection.” McCharen-Tran denoted that collaborative effort by splitting the show in two parts; beginning with dry looks and evolving into wet looks, with models literally dripping down the runway in soaked t-shirts, swimsuits, pants, and dresses crafted from chiffon and other diaphanous materials that captured that wet t-shirt concept perfectly.

CHRISTIAN SIRIANO
Spring 2019 Collection look from Christian Siriano / PHOTO: DAN LECCA

CHRISTIAN SIRIANO

Miranda Priestly may have rolled her eyes in derision at florals for spring, but if anyone can make them “groundbreaking,” its Christian Siriano. Dusky blossoms and three-dimensional bouquet details decorated several styles, while acidic hues and natty neutrals, as well as fierce animal prints and sparkling crystal-studded styles, provided an edgier touch to the initial garden party. “It's a little bit like a Hawaiian holiday but it kinda turned into a dark and sexy Hawaiian holiday,” explained Siriano. “We have a lot of references from all kinds of different elements that felt natural, still beautiful and elegant; it's not overly floral but there are references of floral. I wanted it to be a bit of a different vibe as what you typically think of as ‘Hawaiian’." With so much stunning style up for grabs, it can be hard to narrow down what to invest in for spring/summer, but Siriano recommends, “We did some really cool kind of leopard and cheetah print moments and I think that would be a fun piece to have.”

Besides his intricately-artistic designs, Siriano is known for his inclusivity, both on and off the runway. This was his fifth season working with both straight size and plus size models, and he has no plans to return to homogenous runways of the past. . “I just think the customer inspires me. It's great to see all these different types of people out there; that's what fashion is, that's who's shopping, that's who's buying the clothes. So that's why we do it!”

CHRISTIAN SIRIANO
Spring 2019 Collection look from Naeem Khan / Photo: Dan Lecca

NAEEM KHAN

Naeem Khan may have been inspired by his past this season (specifically his first impressions on NYC and the party scene), but he is looking to the future, particularly to the next generation of party-hopping glamazons. Aggressive pops of color burst down the runway, with swishy fringe accents, sultry mesh designs, and of course a heavy-handed dose of glittering beads, sequins, and crystals. “You saw it was 70s, 80s, high glam but fun, young. Love is a battlefield; it's all about the next generation of women who love glamour. And they like fun things. So it's all about that next generation.” Khan especially was proud of his “little cocktail dresses,” naming them as his investment piece for spring.

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