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Was anyone else a little underwhelmed by New York Fashion Week‘s Autumn/Winter 2021 offerings? I can’t tell if I’m being cranky or if there was truly nothing special to behold. Granted, things have changed greatly due to the fact that 99 percent of shows and presentations are now virtual, but can that really be to blame for everything looking so…meh?
OK, now I’m definitely being cranky. There were certainly some undeniable highlights! In a sea of looks I swear I already saw random Gen Z girls wearing on TikTok, a few beautiful fashion moments still found their way. Claudia Li had their best show in a hot minute, Alice + Olivia did a cute Gossip Girl theme and STAUD reminded me why I should really stop buying fast fashion and save up to start shopping them exclusively.
The only good thing about this season being so simple? More than ever before, the designs were especially wearable. From sweater vests to puffer jackets and knit dresses, pretty much all of the clothes this week were “ready to wear” in the most literal sense, aside from a few dreamy gowns. Not a bad thing for those of us who have a shopping addiction they need to justify, am I right ladies?
That said, I can’t talk about this season without acknowledging the majorly disappointing lack of body inclusivity. Over the past handful of seasons, we’ve seen more and more designers take action (cough, do the bare minimum, cough) and include a wider ranger of sizes on the runway, but it seems as though this year, they put their performative desires for inclusivity on the back-burner. I looked through hundreds of images and sat through dozens of streams and I could count on my fingers how many plus bodies I saw. Do better, designers.
Below, I’ve rounded up my 30 very favorite looks—which, although I said I wasn’t impressed this season, actually ended up being pretty difficult to narrow down. I’m a pessimist, ignore me! I really do love all the looks below and give the designers major kudos. In fact, I’ll be saving them all to my Pinterest boards to revisit (cough, copy) when fall 2021 is finally upon us and I need some outfit inspo.
I never thought Claudia Li would be my favorite of the season, but I honestly enjoyed almost every single look. Catch me and my BFF twinning in these knit sets on a tennis court near you very soon.
Eclairage sees your knit sweater vests and raises you this puffy pat-of-butter asymmetrical vest instead! Seriously, what’s not to love here?
It’s the hat for me! Seriously, the genderless collection was all fine and dandy, but painting these hats—which can be traced to the Pearl River Delta region—hot pink and adding a chunky chain was an inspired though that gave the whole range a little more oomph.
I already have both of these pieces in my closet in black, but seeing them in this perfect shade of purple is a game-changer. It’s somewhere between cornflower blue, violet and periwinkle, and although I can’t put my finger on it, I’m obsessed.
To be honest, I loved these photo-suits so much that I was really upset to see the collection included anything else. We need a whole line of just these! So playful and strong.
I love a good Ulla show, and while there were tons of pieces I found gorgeous, something about this chunky-to-the-max white knit has been on my mind ever since I first laid eyes on it.
Cardi B in this dress. Cardi B in this dress. Cardi B in this dress. Think about it, and help me manifest it!!!
This ‘fit brought to you by “Watermelon Sugar High.” Seriously, though—I love everything about this, even if I thought the bag was a Que water bottle at first glance.
This Frederick Anderson set was my favorite suit of the season, bar none. The glitz, the green, the glam…and of course, the fur.
GET. CHER. IN. THIS. DRESS. We love a Bob Mackie homage, intentional or not!!!
This PH5 color scheme wins major brownie points, mostly because it reminds me of being a Brownie in Girl Scouts. Anyone else?
Please take a moment to drink in this detail work. Zoom in on the material if you must! Bravo, Sukeina.
Alice + Olivia
Alice + Olivia’s Gossip Girl theme was a fun escape from the reality of a currently-very-gloomy New York City, and this embellished babydoll dress was definitely my favorite piece of all. Very Blair meets Jenny.
Gen Z, rejoice: I’ve found your new favorite brand. The green colorway, the checkered print, the turtleneck, the mohair…this one checks (pun intended) all the right boxes.
Black-owned Theophilio really shined this season, and my favorite piece was this sherpa menswear blazer. Shearling outerwear is everywhere at the moment, but this is the first blazer I’ve seen, and I’m so on board.
Kim Shui is for hot girls with great style, and I’d pay big bucks to see Megan Thee Stallion rocking this set. So good.
This Sandy Liang moment gives me emo ballerina in all the right ways. If you have small boobs, please buy and wear this so that I can live vicariously through you. Thanks in advance.
Anna Sui stayed true to the beat of her own quirky drum this season, and it was a nice creative spark in a sea of pretty basic ready-to-wear. I’d throw on this dress and matching mask in a heartbeat (The only mask in this lineup. Can you believe?!).
Definitely one of my favorite moments of the week was this grand two-piece ballgown moment by Prabal. I love the button detailing at the waist and the styling with long black leather gloves. In white, this would totally be my wedding dress.
I’m all about a matching set, so this skirt/blouse/coat situation from Maisie Wilen was right up my alley. Also adore the styling with those yellow tie-dye tights and turquoise feather heels. Fun!
Nothing at Veronica Beard truly blew me away, other than their extreme use of sweater vests and this very cool suit. The black knit detailing gives a very sporty feel guaranteed to leave non-fashion folks confused (My favorite pastime).
Have you ever wondered to yourself, what would Wednesday Addams wear to Fashion Week? Wonder no more.
Ka Wa Key
Ka Wa Key had some of my favorite knits of the week. This brilliant blue and asymmetrical hem? Stunning.
Hearst has created the perfect post-quarantine dress. Sweater up top, silky on the bottom, and just enough lace to make us feel like we’re still sort of sexy. I’d wear it.
Not going to lie, this kind of looks like Phillip Lim for J Crew—but not in a bad way? This coat is honestly a fall 2021 must-have. We love a “goes with everything” piece!
Libertine’s visuals are always a little hard to focus in on thanks to the busy backgrounds, so I definitely prefer attending their shows in person. That said, I enjoyed this trench with what looks like their take on newspaper print.
Norma Kamali said Make! Bell! Bottoms! Great! Again!!! And then she did just that. In leather, no less!
The high-low silhouette of this gown is fine, but it’s the color combination for me! The burnt marigold dress paired with chocolatey-brown latex gloves? Delicious.
You want to talk gowns? Tia Adeola made the Swan Lake of gowns! So ethereal. So good.
Yes, I’m including a second Claudia Li look to complete my list, because I honestly could’ve included four or five! This blue square-printed fur coat with matching tote is what cold NYC winter dreams are made of. Claudia, please hook a girl up.