Margaret Howell Fall 2023 Ready-to-Wear Collection
Seeing a Margaret Howell show is one thing. Yet it’s a whole other experience to have Howell and her design heads—Rosamund Ward for women’s; Ioannis Cholidis for men’s—take you through the collection look by look, piece by piece. (And frankly it was a pretty fab experience at that.) Of course, designer show and tell isn’t exactly a rare occurrence in fashion. Studio and showroom visits are a dime a dozen.
It’s just that there’s something about a deep dive into not only Howell’s vision for fall 2023, but her whole ethos of fashion, a place where modernity and the past happily and beautifully co-exist, that reveals more than a show ever could. Get up close and personal and you’re reminded that with Howell nuance is everything. Not to mention that any given collection is part of an ongoing narrative: How many times do a designer and her team discuss whether to swap the belt loops on a skirt during the appointment? At a quick count, almost never. Yet that’s the thing: she’s fluent in a design language which is entirely comfortable with constant evolution.
For instance: This coming fall’s gesture of altering the length of one of Howell’s superlative softly unstructured jackets, denuded of any formality, which will run longer and looser for women, the better to accommodate one of her cotton shirts newly injected with a volume that’s capacious, allowing the hem to trail from underneath. (With Fall 2023 shaping up to be the Season of The Jacket—I know I’ve said that elsewhere this season, but honestly, it is—one of hers could be the way to get into the look if the idea of big shoulders is too much for you to, well, shoulder.) Kilts, the kind of traditional piece of British clothing Howell has long worked her magic with, are reimagined in black, and for men; it could be a really novel twist on black tie, perhaps, or just the thing to wear with her roomy hoodies and this fall’s update on the duffel coat.
The brilliant craft, heritage fabrics, and pragmatic and totally unselfconscious gender fluidity (the term might be recent, but Howell’s been doing it for years) are all present and terrifically correct here. That’s heightened by the way Howell chose to mix up her mainline collection with her more casual, sportier MHL line. There are ever so slightly oversized raglan sleeved coats (inspired by a design in her archive) in a plaid checked wool by the trad British fabric maker Fox Brothers; workwear and track pants in cotton woven to miraculously feel both soft and yielding but also with a pleasing crispness; and vaguely 1920s dresses with all the ease of tees which beg to be layered up every which way. The same is true of her utilitarian men’s collarless shirting, with their v-necks; actual tees, to make everything feel that bit more easy, treated to look a little lived in; and, square cut gilets in English shearling which would look good thrown over just about everything here, or more importantly, everything you’ve already got in your own closet.
Out of all this springs two thoughts. Firstly, the notion that while fashion rushes onwards, with Big Flashy Narratives to the fore, there’s something pleasing, reassuring and, frankly, inspiring, about constancy. In the harried and uncertain times we are in, it can feel like a welcome salve. And secondly, for young indie designers thinking about how to find their way in the era of global behemoths and their ever-increasing market share, Howell gives a salutary lesson in how you can start small with a clear voice and vision and last the course by staying true to yourself, growing and evolving over time. That’s true even if where you start isn’t necessarily where you end up. Gesturing to a display of cozy neutrally toned balaclavas, Howell laughed, and reminisced about how she’d started her career by knitting up purple ones herself. Purple balaclavas! It was like discovering Prince wore tweed hacking jackets when he wasn’t gyrating in panne velvet. Yet as Howell reveals season after season, even if you think you know the label, there’s always room to learn something new.
Rina Sawayama Has Fully Embraced Movie Star Style
Singer Rina Sawayama is no stranger to flexing a statement outfit on stage. For live performances, the pop star has rocked everything from all-leather looks to rhinestone rodeo getups. This past month, however, Sawayama has been channeling a different fashion energy on the red carpet—that of a movie star. Sawayama’s first movie, John Wick: Chapter 4, is out March 27. She stars alongside Keanu Reeves, and she has been busy embarking on the film’s official press tour. In the process, Sawayama has brought her unique edge to each and every ensemble.
It all started at the film’s London premiere earlier this month, when Sawayama showed up in a silver gown by Ashi Studio. With its high neckline and slightly puffed shoulders, the silhouette was modern, but still had the sparkle factor that’s fitting for a film premiere. For a screening in New York City last week, Sawayama switched things up in a plaid Thom Browne look that featured a cropped, sharp-shouldered jacket. Hardly your classic Old Hollywood gown!
At the L.A. premiere just last night, Sawayama embraced a more rock ‘n’ roll vibe. She slipped into Luis de Javier’s leather gown, covered in silver grommets and an asymmetrical fringed train. While the ensembles are wildly different in style and attitude, they’re united by a sense of risk-taking and experimentation. It’s a refreshing change from your standard ball gowns. That’s what movie premieres should really be all about—creating a fashion fantasy. One movie in, and Sawayama clearly understands this assignment.
Below, more of Rina’s best John Wick press tour looks.
Meet Matiere Premiere, the French Farm-to-Fragrance Brand That’s Finally Arrived Stateside
Raw materials also happen to be a family tradition. His grandparents grew jasmine, roses, and verbena. And having been raised in the south of France where perfumery is one of the big industries, there’s a cultural know-how that the locals possess. It also doesn’t hurt to have the land, which the Guichard family does. “After 15 years of work, I said, ‘What if I go back to the basics? What if, on top of creating fragrances, what if I grow some ingredients?’” The farm-to-fragrance pipeline is unique for a perfumer, and Guichard is the only master perfumer to grow his own ingredients. Most fragrance brands work in tandem with other farmers and plantations for their resources, for good reason: it’s just not very economical to garden. “You don’t make any money when you grow flowers. It’s very time-consuming, so you really need to have a dedication for it.”
Take roses, for instance: once planted, a rose bush will flourish in about three-to-four years. Five-to-seven years is peak flower-production time in a rose bush’s lifespan (which is about 15-to-18 years total), Guichard explained to me. It’s not the most economical production schedule for a modern fragrance brand in our fast-paced culture. Tuberose, which he also grows, takes a bit less time to harvest: about three months. Perhaps slightly more economical, however, tuberose absolute from the south of France will run you about €250K a kilo, versus its more commonly used Indian counterpart, which fetches about €10K a kilo.
French Flower is the only fragrance that exclusively uses tuberose from the south of France. It’s a rich, nectar-y, creamy tuberose enfleurage and absolute, mingled with ginger, Chinese tea leaf, and pear, meant to evoke the scent of a tuberose field at night (fun fact: tuberose flowers only release their scent in the evening). Compared to other tuberose fragrances I’ve smelled, which can sometimes veer greener or more vegetal, French Flower feels like the full-fatted, cream version of what I’d previously only experienced at the 2% or 1% level (if we’re talking in terms of milk). “We don’t say it’s better in France than it is elsewhere; it’s just different. You have different olfactive qualities, different olfactive facets,” Guichard said, describing the difference to me.
As for the rest of the hero fragrance notes, he’s selective about his sources. “We work with companies that [practice] ethical sourcing, like this amazing company for sandalwood based in Australia called Dutjahn. It’s owned by [indigenous] Australians and they own more than 50% of the company.” Guichard cites this kind of choice as part of the fragrance formula. “The choice of an ingredient is an act of creation. When you introduce a new formula—an orange flower, for example, coming from Tunisia—it’s an act of creation of selecting this very specific orange flower compared to one made in Morocco, in the south of France, or elsewhere.”
Todd Snyder Fall 2023 Menswear Collection
“There’s this ’50s thing happening,” wrote Todd Snyder in his fall collection notes. He’s correct, designers continue to mine a deep vein of post-war nostalgia and the result is a return to form, expressed through tailoring. That means Snyder is in his element. The designer trained in a tailor shop and when he first moved to New York he made all of his own clothes. “I know construction and how to put things together,” said Snyder, and it showed in this polished, yet relaxed collection, which he called American Classics.
Miles Davis, Phillip Johnson, and Frank O’Hara were a few of the personal heroes Snyder had in mind this season; there seemed to be shades of Edward Hopper in there too. The designer played with three-piece suiting, proclaiming the return of the waistcoat. The high-necked ones were most distinctive, and might even make a viable alternative to finance bros’ Patagonias. Wishful thinking…
Snyder’s tailoring fell softly around the body because of the roomier cut, but also due to the materials he used, including cashmere and piled materials. Velvet pants offered a rich and tactile alternative to corduroy, which was also on offer. Country tweeds and checked wools added rougher textures and rustic or collegiate elements. All the looks are grounded with heavy brogues. “I’m ready to move beyond sneakers, it was like a chance to turn that page,” said the designer with a laugh.
The designer recently opened a new store in Los Angeles. In response to requests to dress glitterati, there are cashmere tuxes with satin lapels in unexpected hues like chocolate and pearl gray here. But when Snyder says “there’s a return to dressing up again,” he’s thinking across the board, not specifically about evening wear. And he relates this change in direction to the seismic changes we’re living through. Abandoning sweats for sartorialism is a way of distancing ourselves from the recent past.
“I always feel like clothing is a way to cloud or cover people’s insecurities and I do think that that has a tendency to come out as you start to see things shift,” Snyder mused. “I always used to struggle about getting into fashion, but I used to work in a store, and I got such joy out of making somebody feel better about how they look or present themselves. I’m not saving the world, but for me fashion has always been about the person and understanding where their comfort levels are and pushing a little bit.” This accomplished fall collection should make it easy for fans to lean into that evolution.
Rachel Comey Spring 2023 Ready-to-Wear Collection
Over a recent breakfast Rachel Comey was reminiscing about the Chelsea flea market. In the 1990s, before zoning laws made way for luxury high rises on Sixth Avenue, antique dealers and junk collectors turned the empty lots from 24th to 27th Streets into a weekend paradise for vintage-lovers. Comey once stumbled across a cache of printed textiles that she still uses as references today, among many other treasures fashion-oriented and not.
Walking into her Crosby Street store in SoHo conjures something like the sense of kismet that a Saturday morning trip to the Chelsea flea market once did, the racks full of pieces with a one-off sense of the special, from a summery crocheted top with dragonflies knit into the pattern, to a poplin slip dress picked out in baguette-cut glass beads. They look like they could be vintage, only without all the tedious legwork.
Not that Comey has anything against legwork. She’s been at this for 20-plus years. It’s a career stage when some designers (especially male designers, especially in Milan and Paris) retreat to ivory towers and lose touch with what women want. She’s still working on personal instinct, which in turn keeps her relevant with her customers. A black denim apron belt in the spring lineup is a nifty accessorizing piece with a zip pocket that eliminates the need for a bag, because Comey herself is happier when she’s hands-free.
She’s also looking outward for ideas, of course. With an eye to summer weddings, she whipped up a one-shoulder peplum in stretch smocked cotton along with a matching skirt. Together or separate they have serious re-wear potential.
Kendall Jenner Goes Out on a Limb in Spring’s Best Sleeveless Silhouettes
Anonlychild Fall 2023 Ready-to-Wear Collection
“Who is the woman?” When it comes to fashion, that’s an age-old question. Buyers, stylists, editors, and publicists all seek to distill the essence of a designer’s point of view to a singular person—an existing archetype, a made-up persona, a real-life muse; any will do as long as the reference to which the garments are tied to is tangible and understandable.
At anOnlyChild, Maxwell Osborne gave himself the unofficial mission of defining his woman this season. “Last season was about this gathering, a house party where everyone is living under the same roof and wearing everyone’s clothes, so we showed it on different ages and sizes as a big range,” Osborne said. “This collection is more of a darker approach, about a person outside the party looking in and they’re pretty much taking things from the party and wearing them themselves.” The protagonist of the story is “making something out of nothing,” a founding principle of anOnlyChild along with the use of deadstock fabrics. But rather than projecting scarcity, Osborne’s fall lineup exudes opulence in a wealth of options.
Gatherings and bubble hems were common denominators in the collection, cleverly used on tops, dresses, and coats. Osborne employed volume and shirring as a tool for building a consistent silhouette and signature design details. Most striking were cropped bomber jackets made in leather and fabric with the shoulder dropped and the sleeves and back shirred, creating a spherical shape from every angle. The shirring also appeared under the plackets in quarter-button shirts, in the center front of silk dresses, and as details in elevated tracksuits. “The idea is that you’ll see these bigger proportions gathered or with cinched waists, but that comes from someone taking found jackets or pieces and making them work with their sizing and proportions,” Osborne explained.
He also carried over the short-sleeve suit from last season, which was inspired by the Kariba suits created by designer Ivy Ralph once worn by the Jamaican prime minister Michael Manley. This time around, the jacket was deftly cut in an exaggerated hourglass silhouette with puff short sleeves, worn both as a mini dress and as part of a fantastic two-piece suit. “People keep talking about a ‘West Indian’ aesthetic or the brand being a ‘Jamaican heritage brand,’ but that feels very strict. The brand isn’t about Jamaica, it’s more about the mentality of playfulness and having nothing and making something,” Osborne explained.
While Chapter 1 was personal in that it was Osborne’s return to New York Fashion Week, this season is even more so because “I can see myself wearing it,” he said. “It’s more in my wheelhouse, and I feel more comfortable here telling the story about who this girl is.” When asked to define her, he started, “you know, the girl on the go, very New York, she wants to dress up…” before stopping with a laugh. “Everybody always says the same thing, but this is her,” he said, pointing to a model in a sheer blouse and wide-leg pants. At anOnlyChild, “the girl” is defined less as a specific person and more by a sensibility. That mindset will help Osborne keep growing as he settles into this next chapter.
Keisukeyoshida Tokyo Fall 2023 Collection
Keisuke Yoshida is one of Tokyo’s brightest young fashion talents. This season he closed an overall strong Tokyo Fashion Week with a collection that felt like he’d leveled-up. The 32-year-old designer has spent the past few seasons wrangling with his own design identity, making clothes about his internal struggles. This time, he put himself in another person’s shoes, and by doing so managed to unlock a new level of depth.
By chance he’d met a 17-year-old fan, who came to see a talk of his. The boy, who was with his mother, was wearing one of the designer’s popular and impactful trench coats, and said that after being suicidal, his love for Yoshida’s clothes—which his mother had bought for him—had saved his life.
“Every season I face myself and delve into myself to make things, so it was encouraging to me that what I was doing was helping someone else,” Yoshida said backstage. The designer related to that boy’s feelings—he found solace in fashion after being bullied as a young person himself. Inspired by the relationship between the boy and his mother, Yoshida began by making a collection that spoke to the affectionate power of a feminine guardian.
Working with the Paris-based stylist Léopold Duchemin, he came up with a way to nod to that image of a gloomy boy and the mother-like figure that protects him. “We kept using the word ‘strict,’ and thought that this collection needed to be strict, like a family, a lover, or a teacher,” said Yoshida.
That narrative came through in the ‘lonely’ and ‘love’ motifs painted in white and red on latex vests, and in more serious pieces like the vampish dresses or tailored separates, as well as office-gray coats with power shoulders, all tempered by the tender glamour of the silk-satin skirts and shirts beneath. On some looks, the satiny lining of the coats wrapped around the neck like blouses, in a way that seemed to suggest the inside coming out, while that incredible black leather trench coat added a Matrix vibe that somehow felt fresh.
He had named his collection “THE LAST” after a note he’d scribbled early on in the season, but watching the show it felt like the start of something new. Yoshida’s boy muse himself opened the show, while the Japanese supermodel Kiko Mizuhara closed it with the song “Young and Foolish” playing over the speakers.
There’s some finessing Yoshida needs to do in the finer physical details—some of those silhouettes on the upper half could have been sleeker—but now that he’s raised the bar, keen eyes in the wider industry will be watching how he continues to mature. That will come with more responsibility, more exposure, and perhaps more success. But oh, to be young and foolish again.