insights into the five shows worth remembering this NYFW F/W23 season
words by BRENDA NASR
The atmosphere was already “abuzz” outside of the venue Saturday, with swarms of celebrities exiting one luxury vehicle after another – the likes of Jordyn and Jodie Woods, Ming Lee Simmons, Brittni Mealy, Meredith Duxbury, Tina Leung, and more – anxious to witness the brand’s highly-anticipated S/S 2023 show (thanks, in part, to the brand’s clever invitations and intriguing social media teasers) titled “Fabulous Fruits.” Once seated, the metaphoric buzz materialized into a literal heart-pumping, ear-ringing cacophony of flies blaring through the speakers as the fruit-forward looks descended down the runway. The opening look, a colorful two-piece crop dress with banana shapes pointing outward in a sort of upside down jester-hat silhouette left the audience spellbound. If one assumed, though, that the rest of the collection would be entirely surreal, that assumption was belied by highly wearable pieces from a black-laced catsuit to tie-dyed denim mini dress. Gowns and dresses with signature architectural components and elaborate constructions were seen in a plethora of textures and silhouettes all playing to the theme of rotten fruit. The spectacular pieces spanned the color-wheel from bright to muted, signifying the process of decay. A delightful surprise was the brand’s incorporation of feathers and headpieces adorned with faux flies that, once again, tempered the surrealist tones with elegance and classicism. In this way, the collection was not only beautiful and captivating, but balanced and accessible.
While their spring 2023 collection approached clubwear through the lens of strangers escaping the world together via a Biblical doomsday scenario (specifically, Noah’s Ark), this season it seemed as if the designers wanted their audience and customer base to see themselves as the animals on that Ark. Siying Qu, backstage, made it clear: “It’s not even to be any specific other animal because we are animals, that’s what I want to emphasize. . . it helps us to be in touch again with where we come from.” This theme – that human beings are animals and consciously desire to connect with our animalistic nature – was made readily apparent in the show’s opener – an interpretive performance of the Japanese folktale, “The Fox’s Wedding.” Following this scene, and much to the crowd’s delight, Rickey Thompson opened the show in a navy blue-collared upcycled denim jacket with a signature cascading checkered patchwork motif layered overtop denim pants. Genderless, wearable, and utilitarian stood out as personal show notes. Surprising (for the brand, not the theme) faux fur embellishments seamlessly integrated into the collection’s signatures: knits, harness tops, slogan T-shirts, drawstring hoodies and other staples. Sculptural matching nails, bold makeup looks (think bleached brows with loud, chunky lashes), and edgy, untamed hair completed the looks in a way that embodied the “animal” theme perfectly.
RICHERETTE BY RICHIE RICH
It took years – in fact, over a decade – for iconic designer and legendary Club Kid Richie Rich to return to the catwalks with the debut of his new label RICHERETTE. The answer as to whether the wait was worth it was answered at BKLYN Studios at City Point in Downtown Brooklyn Sunday evening. The show was exciting, inclusive, daring and nostalgic. The brand also announced a collaboration with SKECHERS for this season, who outfitted the models in bright and colorful statement sneaker styles, several pairs of high-heeled strappy sandals as well as a pair of flats. The show was a three-act affair: an opening homage to Stevie Nicks’ 70s and 80s style; Richie Rich’s Club Kid days of the 90s; and a modern take on Disco. Models sauntered – and sometimes skated – down the runway in club-ready staples with moods from the fierce to the jovial embodying the brands’ statement: “RICHERETTE is all about pop culture. FUN.”
The reverberating sounds of a beautiful soprano melody blanketed over the audience as Opera singer and actress Rebecca Hargrove opened the show in a floor-length dress piped in ruffles hugging her shapely figure. Her hair, woven in an updo reminiscent of the 90s Black cult classic film “BAPS,” accented by skinny brows and a glossy lip outlined by a warm liner (T. Cooper for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and Mike Martinez for Cutler Salon) set the tone for referential themes that would be repeated throughout the evening. Brand signatures were on display – sheers, ruffles, lace and mutl-gender designs – oscillating between a more classic palette of black and white to more in-your-face hues of blues and yellows, an interesting choice that perhaps signifies the designer’s intention to stay true to her colorful roots, while also elevating her client to a place beyond merely sexy and sensual in a true “Black Renaissance” fashion.
While bold colors were embraced by brands across the board for F/W 2023 as a rebuff against minimalism, Tiffany Brown’s collection in signature monochrome – this time in gray – served almost as a reverse palette cleanser – offering us a classically chic and smart collection that just felt right. With more dramatic motifs than in previous seasons, the collection was thoughtfully-tailored, featuring offerings for a range of occasions from evening wear to athleisure. From ruffled skirts, voluminous puffer coats to men’s capes and lux gowns, the classicism of the collection along with its timeless but modern silhouettes is Dr. Brown’s answer to a post-Covid world, stating, “We have all experienced a rebirth. A rebirth of what we believe is normal, what is important, what we truly value. We are three years out of the transition of the life changing experience of Covid, and I believe it has made us aware of what truly is important in our lives. We are constantly awed by the myriad ways human beings create ingenious, powerful, and at times simple strategies to overcome life’s many challenges. We bear witness to stunning acts of courage, dignity, and grace, even in the face of anguish. We are all survivors in our ways. We must be able to live, to love and to be fashionable under all circumstances. Through our new collection, we want to give hope to all to continue to live and never stop searching and being in love. Love is all that truly matters”.The show marked the brand’s 10th anniversary of showing in New York and its debut at the landmark Spring Studios. Notable guests included Kelvyn Colt, Didi J, Serayah, Zuri Reed, Cleotrapa, and more.
photos by PERRY JOHNSON and BRENDA NASR