New York Fashion Week: Jason Wu, Markarian, and Private Policy Try to Rouse Us From Our Sweatpants
New York Fashion Week carries resolutely on, pandemic be damned. Jason Wu, Markarian, and Public Policy show us the beautiful things we could be wearing—if we could be bothered.
Once again, New York Fashion Week—er, the newly renamed “American Collections Calendar”—is a mostly digital affair, with one exception: the opener, aka Jason Wu’s fall show. The designer turned an empty SoHo pop up into a socially-distant farmers’ market to showcase his fall lineup. There were 30 models and around 25 guests, per WWD. One of them was Pose's Mj Rodriguez, who showed up in a blue monochrome ensemble and bedazzled face mask. Unlike the audience, models did not wear masks, signaling an unsaid promise (or maybe jinx)—by the time these clothes hit stores in the fall, maybe we will have some semblance of normalcy as we go about our days and errands.
None of the clothes were especially "pandemic fashion"-y, and plenty would have looked fine on a runway this time last year, before everything shuttered. The tailoring was simple, there were long lines seen on peacoats and high-waist trousers. A few coats and dresses had low-hanging fringe embellishments that would not be visible on Zoom, again perhaps heralding an IRL future. If this writer has any complaints, it's that a few of the sweater and jacket sleeves were too damn long. Cute in a demure way, but not quite sensible for grocery shopping... or doing anything at all, for that matter.
If the name Markarian sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because that's the line Jill Biden’s team plucked from relative obscurity to wear for the presidential inauguration last month. So now all eyes are on the New York-based line led by Alexandra O’Neill. For fall, the designer took inspiration from another failed empire, not our slowly crumbling American one, dedicating her vision to Ovid’s Metamorphosis.
The resulting looks are luxe and glamorous enough to almost make you want to risk it all and attend a super-spreader wedding, just to have an excuse to wear one of the gowns. (Don’t!) Most of the line-up are close-fitting, tea-length dresses with playful embellishments: bows, jacquard patterns, a bedazzled neckline or two. Especially interesting, and decidedly not very first lady-looking, are a few fancy pajama sets. One has Swarovski crystal detailing on the collar, buttons, and cuffs. These days, why would you want to wear literally anything else?
Private Policy's fall collection, “We Remember You,” honors the Chinese workers who built America's transcontinental railroad, while examining how the era’s xenophobia continues to the present. “No longer silenced, people are speaking up about the past and ongoing racism, violence, and prejudice against Asian communities,” show notes read. Private Policy chose the story “because it declares existence and pride for the previous Asian generations’ phenomenal attributions. We look to them for inspiration to stand tall for who we are and welcome others to learn about Asian culture.”
The line’s creative directors Haoran Li and Siying Qu chose to showcase their clothing in a series of TikTok dance videos. Some of the inspiration is literal—one button-up shirt is printed with an 1868 map of the railroad route. Other nods are more symbolic, like a puffer vest with a Mandarin collar and a jacket with knot buttons. One t-shirt features the sketch of a crane underneath the Private Policy logo. As the brand wrote on Instagram, the bird “represents longevity, elegance, auspiciousness, and loyalty in the Chinese culture.”