Material Gworl. LaQuan Smith AW22

Before debuting his fiery autumn-winter 2022 collection on the runway this evening, New York-based designer LaQuan Smith took a moment of silence to acknowledge the late and great André Leon Talley – the longtime Vogue editor who changed the industry as we know it, due to his discerning eye and unparalleled enthusiasm (to be honest, it’s shocking that no other brand in the city mentioned Talley’s passing this season). During the hectic, fast-paced week, it was a classy touch on Smith’s part that reminded one to take a moment and to reflect. It also allowed spectators to quite literally take a breath, before having it taken away by the ultra-sexy clothes that followed. The opening number, for instance – modeled by Julia Fox, It girl of the moment – was a black turtleneck dress with bold chest cutouts. The crowd went wild for it. After two years of the pandemic, and the overuse of terms like “comfort dressing” or “loungewear,” Smith wanted to dial up the sex factor for autumn and vouch for the return of naughty glamour. This resulted in loads of sequins, fabulous mink coats, and extremely-mini skirts that just skimmed the buttocks – like a modern-day take on wild Studio 54 style. “This collection was really about the revival of New York City and celebrating life again,” said Smith. “I wanted to create a collection that gave women a sense of hope and celebration.”

His color palette of neutrals, paired with electrifying golds, reds, and blues, certainly woke you up with a jolt. Smith does sexy well. Sequin- or mink-covered body suits were paired with low-slung trousers that exposed hip bones. The dresses were cut short with deep-V necklines, while his version of leather pants came all zippered up like a moto jacket. Outerwear was a new category push for him, Smith said: “It’s all about these super-strong, big, New York shearlings, with these little itty-bitty sexy silhouettes underneath. It’s cold outside, but she’s going somewhere.” Smith’s clothes are certainly not for wallflowers. In the spirit of recent collections from, say, Blumarine or Versace, Smith sees the future of fashion as a time to be raunchy and show some skin. After two years of sweatpants, this feels right. There were a few key women who stuck with him during the design process as well. He cited style icons like Lil’ Kim and Grace Jones, as well as the regular everyday Manhattan women he’s witnessed growing up in New York. “I’d see women teetering in their heels in the Meatpacking District, when New York was vibrant, fun, and all about nightlife,” says Smith. “That kind of energy and level of excitement is what I’m trying to revive.” His latest assortment, he says, is what he envisions the current crop of New York party girls wearing. “It’s fresh, young, and sexy,” said Smith. “To me, it’s the new New York bitch.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Chic Awkwardness. Maryam Nassir Zadeh AW22

Maryam Nassir Zadeh‘s style and aesthetic language (re)defines what New Yorker women (and men) really wear, love and want. Trying to understand the nuance of the label can be like cracking a secret code – and the autumn-winter 2022 collection is quintessentially MNZ. To her and her community, a sort of chic awkwardness – which never feels like a costume! – is everything. Here is Susan Cianciolo, the godmother of all Lower East Side style, in a plaid scarf wrapped around her head, and a leather, boxy skirt set. Putting Drake Burnette in a slender ringer tee and charismatic long pencil skirt means something. Lexie Smith’s sheer butter-colored trousers under a sort of uncanny work dress are intentional; layering coats for Angel Prost mimics Prost’s own magpie style. On the whole, these clothes come with a gentle handfeel, lent by shell buttons on a lichen short sleeve shirt and the Sharpie-drawn logo on a tee. Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s clothes, always styled in a seemingly spontaneous and intuitive way, help build character which is 100% authentic – and mysteriously quirky.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Autumnal. Tory Burch AW22

I kind of can’t believe it, but yes – I loved a Tory Burch collection. I actually don’t remember when was the last time I even looked at her collection. Details from autumn-winter 2022 line-up sneaked into my Instagram feed, and then I browsed through the runway photos, and… it’s really great. The offering sprung from Burch’s observations of New Yorkers’ style throughout the pandemic. The freedom of expression was what she noticed – not trends, but characters. “I see women in New York taking more risks, they’re more creative with the way they put themselves together,” she said after her show. “It’s all ages, and that’s something I really appreciate.” Burch tapped into that energy for her latest collection, which she set against a backdrop of midtown Manhattan, with red light from the New Yorker Hotel sign glancing off the runway, like neon reflecting on rainy streets. The idea, she explained, “was to give women a toolbox; I want them to feel they can take this collection and create their own personality with it.” The variety was the thing. This collection had range: there were tech-knit track jackets worn with high-waisted, tapering pants and voluminous jackets and skirts reined in with dramatic belts. The designer, as many designers in New York this season, doubled down on outerwear. Sasha Pivovarova wore a wool coat on top of a hooded raincoat. Bouclé coats had drop shoulders, for easier layering. All of it skimmed out on low-heeled mules or boots, another reflection of real-life chic. There was nothing as predictable as a cocktail dress. Instead, embellished T-shirts were layered over jersey turtlenecks and Lurex-shot full skirts. Burch also paired embroidered bustiers and baggy pants in a cotton-linen shantung with day-to-night versatility. In all likelihood, it’ll be the lively colored geometric pattern jersey dresses – clingy, cut on the bias for ease – that become the collection’s big movers. For the days when the closet is too daunting, or there’s just not enough time for putting together a look, they’re a one-and-done solution for channeling a confident New York vibe.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Batsheva Charm. Batsheva AW22

“It’s big, broad, and for everything she might want to do,” says Batsheva Hay of her autumn-winter 2022 collection. Her blooming label is no longer just about timeless prairie dresses. Now she has pushed her aesthetic into housecoats, and sweatshirt skirts, and pajama sets, and quilted vests, and blouse and skirt sets, and tiny scalloped edge knits, and… well, you get it. Hay is putting her twist on almost every category, denim to debutante dresses. It might read as a commercially minded play, and, yes, more clothes means more opportunity to expand the business, but as Hay tells it, this season was really about taking all the her friends and customers have been giving her for years. “People always send me pictures of Sharon Tate’s wedding dress,” she says, “so finally I just made one.” Her take is denim with dusty rose velvet trim. For those who want body-con, there is a tight maxi dress covered in funny crochet granny squares. Simplicity seekers have asked for black: now Hay has her most streamlined, no ruffle black velvet dress with vintage ribbon trim. A gray cardigan with hand-crochet trim is a tip from Jenna Lyons, who advised Hay to just remake all her popular blouse shapes as knits. The many velvet coat-dresses, with prim bows and sweet little hoods, are Hay’s advice to herself: something cute and sweet for all weather. The glue that binds her diverse work together is her own sense of quirky weirdness. Of the grandma-style florals she says “you need something a little repulsive!” Not abandoning her weirdo sensibility while being able to expand into new realms is her great strength.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Industrial Sexy. Khaite AW22

Here’s the picture of what’s fashion like this New York Fashion Week: it’s either an over-the-top fantasy (Area) or a pragmatic, down-to-earth look at the re-emergence wardrobe (Proenza Schouler). Khaite is rather in the latter camp, but not entirely. Launched in 2016 as a resource for classic essentials, the ethos of the brand hasn’t changed: it’s still constructed on a foundation of cashmere sweaters, leather, denim, and tailoring. But Cate Holstein shakes up that properness lately. Last season, she dimmed the lights almost to black; for autumn-winter 2022, she channeled the glam and grit of pre-Bloomberg New York, with Kurt Cobain wailing “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” on the soundtrack. Khaite is getting edgier than it was in its early days. “It’s our most New York show,” Holstein said, “the most industrial,” and she pointed out that the freight elevator from that scene in Fatal Attraction was down the block from the show venue. Holstein built this collection with the outerwear as a priority. It started with a zip-front leather jacket, with an exaggerated collar and full sleeves. Much more leather followed: an aviator, a trench, double-breasted blazers, snap-front work shirts, and a Perfecto like Emmanuelle Seigner’s in Frantic, a movie Holstein quoted backstage. Jackets and coats sorted, the Khaite customer will need a mini for autumn. Khaite’s are shapely— – igh waisted and neatly belted, with a zip all the way down the front. Should she require a dress, she might fancy an off-the-shoulder number traced in a harlequin of Swarovski crystals, a fully fringed cocktail number that took three weeks of work to complete, or the crocheted column studded with crystals that was the collection’s showpiece. As sexy as the vibe was, Holstein achieved it without the towering spike heels we’ve seen turning up elsewhere this week. The post-pandemic stiletto comeback isn’t anywhere in sight. Holstein gets that – another notch in her favor.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.