Black Excellence At NYFW AW21
By Jason Kwame
With the post-Covid 19 transition in full effect, New York Fashion Week is delivering new offerings from a whole new creative angle and approach. Global fashion week traditions are slowly shifting to strictly live-stream, digital and photographic presentations. Last week’s New York Fashion Week pulled all the stops to make way for this, especially by opening the virtual floor to more black fashion creatives.
The highly-anticipated NYFW schedule was this year as refreshing as ever in many senses. The US fashion capital’s take on the new normal was one that went all in on inclusion and solidarity, through open and inclusive conversation.
With the hybrid installation of NYFW The Talks (made to fit the zoom-era of 2021), the newly formatted Black in Fashion Council (BIFC) were given full reins with a Town Hall-themed discussion to officially christen the week with real diversity. Emerging black designers were invited to speak up on matters of transparency and actionable change in the industry – at all levels.
Co-creator of BIFC and editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, Lindsay Peoples Wagner, highlighted how imperative their efforts were this year in “ensuring [provision of] full calendar of events something to support young designers of color”.
And they didn’t stop there. It only made sense to put the words spoken into action. With a return of an unprecedented move from September 2020 fashion week, BIFC in collaboration with IMG took over and switched up quintessential New York office spaces, to shed a spotlight on 16 black designers with a 3-day showroom. Talents included statement jewelry designer Lola Ade (meaning wealthy crown in Yoruba). Also, Nicole Shante and her collection best described as sleek, cultured, boardroom prowess – inspired by Grace Jones circa Boomerang. Other must-sees were Edas handbags, Kendra Duplantier, Nicole Benefield and Kenneth Nicholson (as seen on Jaden Smith).
And what is a fashion week without a showcase of new trends and styles for the fall/winter months & seasons ahead?
Mother and daughter design duo at House of Aama set pace by incorporating the upcoming trend of monochromatic pieces into their top and bottom halter neck and skirt sets. The team honed in on the sometimes forgotten romantic, periodic style of the black south, by offering lacy shirts and pussy bow accents.
Since being spotlighted last year Jamaican-born Edwin Thompson has kept his creative streak going for Theophilio. This season’s instalment – impressively self-funded – paid homage to the Matrix and concepts of “blue pill, red pill” heroic decision-making, something we know oh so well these days. Especially with the endless amounts of half-truths, truths and conspiracies we must filter through these days.
Still, Thompson kept to the pulse of his Caribbean roots, also fitting well with this season’s simmering grunge-punk trend. From JA-inspired black-green-yellow Doc Martens to string sets, then cream textured blazer jackets and matching bucket hats. The pieces were reminiscent of the edge and swag of yesteryears Caribbean dub sound system parties – from Kingston to Notting Hill.
All in all New York Fashion Week was another move forward towards the fashion “industry improving, making equitable change and making representation possible,” as Peoples-Wagner reiterated. Warranted space is being made for black designers to take up, and there’s no question about the high level of creativity on display.
Whether we are intending on dressing up to be homebound, to collect groceries (and takeaway pre-orders…unashamedly), NYFW and the emerging black designers had us set. They say pray for rain, but in this case pray for a return to safe outings to wear these fits to!