I celebrate differences.
As a third culture kid, I appreciate and almost expect fusion and cultural melting pots to be a mainstay in my life. Whether its food or fashion, cultural mixes evoke a familiarity with me. Which is why, seeing three New York designers with a worldly perspective and cross continental background at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) was a joyous experience.
With a mix of both avant garde and ready to wear, Runa Ray made my home country India quite proud by showcasing her flowing garments on the NYFW runway. From Bangalore, South India, she studied further in Paris and worked for Galliano and Dior. Based in New York, she was one of the few designers from the massive potential of the city who was selected to present at NYFW, calling her show “Evolution”.
The first thing I noticed was how the models did not wear any heels – nor any shoes for that matter. Besides literally jumping in joy in their heads, this truly spoke of evolution and comfort. Dominated by white and beige, there were specks of green, black and khaki olive spotted on her dresses. The beiges were predominantly cottons and suedes, as well as a very customary Indian fabric jute, alongside organza, often in radiant stripes with embroidered colored florets. There were several origami style cuts, loose fits with sheer and check that reminded me of sarees, as well as details on the backs of dresses.
I quite liked the single florets snaking up sleeves, backs, bodices and slithering up skirts. An inventive cleavage cut and pleats on sleeves were other ways of showcasing immense creativity on a monochromatic collection.
The blacks and greens followed suit with similar inventive cuts, with a crochet style black knee length dress with a bouquet of florets on the front. An elegant shirt-dress style rawsilk green dress was a perfectly seductive morning after style, too.
Xuly Bët is a colorful and bright fashion line inspired by the loud 80s, by Lamine Koyaté, a Mali born Parisian based designer. The words mean “keep you eyes open” in Wolof / Senegalese, adding a global perspective to the creations. His was an interesting history of designing clothes for the kids of his active clubbing friends’ kids, which made sense given the vibrancy of his colors. After opening a boutique in New York on Orchard City, one hears he holds graffiti contests and uplifts the local art spirit of the vibrant city.
The collection was an explosion of color, with whimsical prints and pairings and a dash of bohemia with the 80s swag. It was dedicated to his 86 year old mother, who was active in women’s rights being a doctor, and to his native country Mali. Each model sported sunglasses in stark contrast with their outfits – green with yellow, blue with pink, and every box of crayons gone wild! Several models also wore a distinct head wrap which I was used to from my home country in Tanzania where I was brought up.
Ethnic African ‘tinga tinga‘ style prints were aplenty, on totes and shirts and shirt dresses and bomber jackets, accessorized by funky eyewear and traditional looking head gear.
These soon gave way for Jeremy Scott style designs of motif prints like lipsticks or silver glitter on pink and blue body hugging dresses. The glittery neon pink leopard print dress was an obvious favorite owing to my penchant for feline things, as well as a silver lengthy bomber.
A plaid jumpsuit with contrast print sunglasses and a headscarf, a tactic repeated with plaid pants and a disco style pink bomber. The runway show ended with raincoat style outerwear, a transluscent cover on neon pink and blue gear, making the collection a weather friendly one!
Jerome LaMaar has a history of working with Baby Phat at a young age, and has also designed for Mariah Carey and Beyonce. The line 5:31 Jérôme conveys summer in New York and the Hamptons, with forest green and white vibes literally shining through a radiating collection! Plus with a heart warming slogan: ‘Gratitude is Glamorous’.
Based out of a boutique in the Bronx, where he was also born and raised as a fifth generation New Yorker, there was an element of disco merged with streetwear, given the whimsical footwear and oversized sweaters, robes and shirts on both men and women. The disco-ball shoes in particular were the new Hamptons flip flops that were forecasted to be a staple on private pools everywhere! Of Portuguese, Cuban and Ethiopian heritage, the cultural elements shown through the collection presented at Pier 59’s sunlit studios, with camo, sequins, straw hats, straight cut shorts and impeccably tinted eyewear.
Whoever said you can roam the world while in New York… was absolutely correct.