The puffer jacket was a fashion week oddity both on the runway and among the shows’ attendants at the start of the week. Leave it to Bill Cunningham, the 86-year-old street-style photographer, to find the “straws in the wind,” as he put it, among the ubiquitous shearling and furs: the stray black duvet coat with an “inflated silhouette.”
Days later, the puffer cropped up again and again in collections, most notably at Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow’s DKNY show on Wednesday, where black bomber coats and puffer scarves confirmed that sleeping-bag shapes are now a trend.
It was written in the show’s program: the design duo looked to “strong girl bands from the 90s who were able to show sexuality with a tomboy feel.” Puffy suspender pants and sheer crop tops evoked R&B bands from the era like TLC. The designers were “playing with proportions of what kids were wearing when DKNY first came out and messing with that.”
Osborne and Chow, also behind the emerging label Public School, made another tongue-in-cheek reference to the ’90s with logos—particularly their own. From denim anoraks to deconstructed satin dresses, pieces were printed with phonetic spellings of DKNY (DICNY and DICKNEE) and other plays on logomania (“insert logo here” or “dkny-logo-new.jpg”).
The finale presented statement-making variations of the DKNY acronym, as models came out in black graphic sweatshirts that read, “Don’t Knock New York,” “Dazed Kids New York,” and “Designers Don’t Know Yet.”
One major designer, Prabal Gurung, was dazzled by the collection. Walking out with J.Crew’s Jenna Lyons and former Lucky magazine editor Eva Chen, Gurung gushed that the show was “really, really good” and had “such great energy.” Chen and Lyons were less fulsome in their praise, though Chen thought it was “very confident.” Lyons lamented that the show itself felt rushed (“they didn’t have enough time!”), but she “loved” the sweatshirts.
Gurung gave Bill Cunningham a warm bicep squeeze as he rushed out of Chelsea’s Skylight Modern venue and onto 27th Street. Cunningham smiled and nodded hello. He was wearing a blue, quilted down jacket—his very own muted version of the puffer.
Anna Sui sent a series of swinging sixties looks down the runway on Wednesday: trippy prints, crushed velvet over-the-knee boots, shaggy coats, and baby-doll dresses.
The collection was inspired by some of Sui’s favorite painters, like Peter Blake and “a lot of pop artists in Europe in the ’60s,” the designer told The Daily Beast backstage after the show. She also looked to Niki de Saint Phalle, the French artist whose Nanas—multi-colored, voluptuous dancing women—were referenced on the back of a lacy dress.
“There’s a big feeling of psychedelia right now,” Sui said, right down to the music she played during the show: Todd Rundgren covers by contemporary bands like Neon Indian. “It’s really in the air.”
Indeed, Sui brought London’s Carnaby Street to New York’s Moynihan station. “She’s the only designer who can really do prints well,” said Barbara Hulanicki, whose Biba chain in London defined high-low dressing in the late ’60s. Sui somehow managed to fuse hearts, stars, cats, and flowers in a series of cutesy but not at all kitschy prints.
“You can tell that she styles everything herself, she doesn’t bring anyone in from outside,” Hulanicki said, adding wryly, “It’s homegrown.”
Hulanicki was among the more inconspicuous front-row guests at the show, and certainly the most deserving. She designed a print for the collection: a dolly girl sketch reminiscent of her Biba illustrations.
“It’s like the old days,” Hulanicki said of Sui’s collection, “but completely modernized.”