NYFW Kicks Off With Meaningful Stories From Black Designers
Photo: Chelsea Grays

After a series of digital Spring 2021 and Couture Week shows, experiencing Fashion Week via your laptop or cell phone versus the crowded streets of the world’s fashion capitals is beginning to feel like the norm. But that isn’t stopping designers from breaking down their creative barriers, especially at New York Fashion Week, which has always had a reputation for housing fresh and innovative brands that push the envelope.

This season’s American-based shows and lookbook presentations officialized by the CFDA calendar began as early as February 2, and will continue through March 9 with LaQuan Smith. Brands embracing the opportunity to slow down, or deviating from the traditional Fashion Week calendar for any other number of reasons, means a few brands such as Pyer Moss and Christopher John Rogers are absent from the schedule this month. Meanwhile, brands such as Negris LeBrum make a debut on the official schedule.

To kick the season off, designer’s tell palpable stories with their latest collections — be it one of roots, of struggle or of hope, each collection is in some way emotionally moving. Ahead, here’s how the showcasing of Fall 2021 collections is getting its start.

A. Potts

Photo credit: Gregory Wikstrom / Courtesy of A. Potts

In a presentation that can only be described as the moment of serenity and creativity fashion needed, A. Potts’ Fall 2021 collection lives largely within the realm of three colors — pale yellow, grey and black — and yet still feels larger than life. True to the brand, this season’s designs are genderless in nature, easily transitionable from cool to warm weather, and display the most freeing of silhouettes. Models Yannick Lebrun, Khalia Campbell, James Gilmer and Fana Tesfagiorgis danced lightly in Aaron Potts’ creations, wearing dramatically puffed sleeves, billowing oversized jackets, and ultra long gowns.

Chelsea Grays

Photo: Chelsea Grays

As fitting for the time as ever, Chelsea Grays’ named its latest collection “Homage to 2020,” bearing in mind the protesting, police violence, health crisis and issues around the election that shaped the last year, particularly for minorities. As a solemn track by Reggie hums “I don’t want to feel no more,” we see 12 models depict the lives of the urban youth. The collection itself embodies an intentional elevated ruggedness, featuring patchwork that feels ripped and worn, splattered prints, and raw edges, all which can be interpreted to represent the physical and emotional struggles 2020 brought on for many.

Victor Glemaud

Photo credit: Courtesy of Victor Glemaud

As a connoisseur of knitwear before the style became a default for stay-at-home dressing, you could of course only expect more knits from Glemaud this season. But as always, he continues to move his own needle forward. Using natural yarns, Victor Glemaud’s “Ode to Hope” collection seeks to discover the untapped potential in knitwear’s versatility. Incorporating the brand’s signature penchant for two-toned designs (black and white, and yellow and black), the brand explores a spin-off of workwear into knit territory with pinstripes, a patchwork jacquard design, and cutouts.

Negris LeBrum

Photo credit: Courtesy of Negris LeBrum

Negris LeBrum took to a park area in Houston, TX, design director Travis Hamilton’s current base, to film the brand’s Homecoming collection, which simultaneously channels Hamilton’s home of the Louisiana Bayou. Along to a bluesy rendition of California Dreamin’, Negris LeBrum’s first Fashion Week-presented collection as a designer listed on CFDA’s official schedule steps away from the brand’s love affair with black and white. With an approach Hamilton calls “conservative sexy,” the Homecoming collection feels ready for both day and night wear, incorporating a speckled maroon, leopard print and other pops of color such as yellow.