There’s something magical about this season’s New York Fashion Week that is palpable, even for us watching it play out from a laptop screen. The city of New York and its inhabitants were badly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and this new season seemed to indicate that the city has been enveloped by a stirring sense of optimism, and a desire to celebrate all the things that makes the city so great. This is going hand-in-hand with the impending 2021 Met Gala, theme: ‘In America: The Lexicon of Fashion’, which will celebrate the past, present, and future of American design.
How fitting then that Joseph Altuzarra—one of the most important American designers working today—returned to his native New York for spring summer ‘22. Altuzarra has shown on the Paris Fashion Week schedule since 2017, but the restrictions of the pandemic drove him home, where he has been for the last 18 months. “It wasn’t easy, especially with the anti-Asian violence, but I felt this intense kinship with New York; I wanted to be part of the rebuilding or rebirth,” he told Vogue Runway after the show.
And be a part of it he was: today’s collection joined the legacy of iconic New York designers (Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Thom Browne) who showcased standout collections that revived their archives in creative and innovative ways. For Altuzarra, that meant resurrecting the iconic shibori print (a traditional Japanese hand-dyeing technique) that took the industry by storm in 2015, using it on shrunken knitwear, wrap skirts, and body-hugging day dresses. Elsewhere, there were lace-front plissè pleated dresses that moved like rippling black ink, knitted sweaters and dresses with crochet bodice overlays, and cocoon puffer coats belted at the waist.
The collection closed with a handful of flowing bohemian dresses, printed in soft florals or cream linens, and dress-up with tassel details, crochet harnesses, and beaded hems. They were inspired by French photographer Charles Frèget’s 2012 book ‘Wilder Mann’—a series of portraits exploring the history of pagan rituals across Europe. Much like Frèget’s images, the collection captured an unmistakable sense of magic that stayed with you long after the livestream ended. Fashion week—and all the childlike wonder it evokes—is back. May we never lose it again.