NYFW S/S '12 Designer Preview

This year’s spring/summer ’12 New York Fashion Week collections coincide with the ten year anniversary of 9/11, the most devastating day in the city’s history. Although the catastrophic event tested New York in multiple ways, the city’s resilience never wavered—a can’t-knock-me-down attitude that Gotham’s fashion industry also engenders. A decade later, brands are still slugging away and neophyte designers are stepping up to challenge them—and this season, there’s plenty of exciting talents to look out for. After all: if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

Fashion Next is an initiative handpicked by W Hotel’s Global Fashion Director Jeanne Lombardo and will showcase Bibhu Mohapatra, Michael Angel, Juan Carlos Obando as well as deserving newcomers. The spotlight falls on emerging talents like whimsical womenswear line Electric Feathers, which channels vintage silhouettes and feminine textures, as well as Rochambeau‘s casual luxe menswear (think simple folding on classic staples) and Brooklyn cool Nomia, which takes geometry to a new level with precise lines that are at once commanding and relaxed.

Also hailing from the hipper second borough this season are Gretchen Jones and Creatures of the Wind. For a memory refresher, Jones was on the eighth season of Project Runway and she now returns with neutral toned, elegantly draped designs that are perfectly suited for women who embody effortless chic. Creatures of the Wind, meanwhile, is a starkly cool, retro-inspired label that produces sumptuously layered, dynamic pieces that pop with unconventional colors, patters and combinations. Look out for the label’s surprising yet appealing clash of cuts and prints.

When it comes to stunningly unexpected combinations, few labels rival Suno. Designers Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty step up their already acclaimed NYFW showcases (Anna Wintour even deigned to stop by the then fledgling label’s debut) with their first catwalk presentation this season. The label’s intoxicating prints and innovative designs have already encompassed a wide range of influences and tones, suggesting that this young label has much, much more up its sleeve. Elsewhere, keep an eye out for Rachel Zoe, whose zesty offerings will be in line with her signature stylist aplomb, and Giulietta, which promises a taste of ’70s glamour gowns and unhindered femininity.

Not for meek gender neutral wares, Dominic Louis is best known for outsize layers, animal skins and bold statements. His store in the Meatpacking district and multi-functional, versatile pieces speak to a talent who is intent on leaving his mark on society’s aesthetic consciousness. Even if his dramatically angular and overly embellished looks aren’t for everyone, Louis is a statement-maker who is refreshingly unperturbed by traditional tailoring conventions or gender restrictions.

When it comes to classic menswear, Marlon Gobel is hardly a traditionalist. The young designer is already challenging industry conventions thanks to his training from Michael Bastian and Thom Browne as well as an eye for flamboyant visuals. His use of unique textures and outlandish print designs (in suits and sweaters alike) make him a bold presence in the typically restrained world of menswear design. Alexandre Plokhov, the now defunct maestro of Cloak, debuted his menswear in Paris, but will now show a polished collection to include women at Barneys. After making waves a few years ago, Tribune Standard by Tawfik Mounayer promises to be comeback story with designs that straddle sophistication and functionality in a meticulously crafted take on American sportswear.

As usual, the international roster presents a varied menu from around the world. Both Concept Korea and Arise Magazine continue their seasonal showcase of the best designers from their respective regions, while Argentina introduces its best talents at Lincoln Center and Focus Taiwan, sponsored by the country’s Textile Federation, will spotlight national designers including a veteran with a strong retail presence and a recent Central Saint Martins graduate. British talents abound, including Victoria Beckham, Mark Fast, who will be showing his Faster by Mark Fast line of economically accessible lascivious, cut-out dresses, Dean Quinn‘s futuristic strict silhouettes and journalist-turned-designer Anna Laub‘s prism eyewear. Elsewhere, Canada’s Juma brings its colorful digital printed sportswear to the HPGRP gallery on September 13th.

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