The Coolest Kids on the Block: Public School, Opening Ceremony, and Band of Outsiders at New York Fashion Week

Fashionistas may be fighting for seats at the big-name shows, but the up-and-coming designers are the ones to watch, wowing with fresh and inspired collections this season.

Kathy Willens/AP

Public School—the line run by Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne—has been a brand to watch since the design duo won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award in November. On Monday, the brand, which until this point has been recognized for its strong menswear designs, continued to push its boundaries by introducing women's clothing into its repertoire. For its fall/winter collection, Public School presented menswear pieces that were about "turning old menswear patterns on their head," Chow told WWD. This inspiration became obvious when wider, flatter top hats, modernized suits, and tweed moto-jackets began parading down the runway. Although their menswear was as successful as usual, it was Public School’s introductory womenswear line that had the audience on its toes. The duo delivered slick trousers, oversized knits, and structured button-downs, all layered with some variety of parka, cape, or oversized jacket. The dark-hued collection was an extension of Public School’s men’s line, with similar cuts, colors, and the same cool, urban aura. Chow and Osborne once said they would only debut a womenswear line if it was perfect; with this collection, they nailed it right on the head. Plus, with front-row seats filled by Anna Wintour, Swizz Beats, Kelly Rowland, and Joe Jonas, it seems that Public School has officially graduated from the “up-and-coming” designer category.

On Sunday night, another design duo failed to disappoint, turning Spring Studios into a modern-day, chic-version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. After their fast and furious fashion week debut last season, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim had everybody wondering what they would come up with next for Opening Ceremony. Guests were greeted with blocks of Belgian chocolate upon entry, and the smell of the fresh sweet wafted through the open space. Inspired by a recent trip to Belgium and the folklore of Antwerp (which translates to ‘hand-thrown’), Leon and Lim showed a collection featuring zoomed-in fingerprints, hands, and other geometric prints on the streetwear designs that the brand has become recognized for. Male models took the runway first in athletic-inspired apparel—oversized sneakers, quilted clothes layered atop turtlenecks, and industrial-style outerwear. The women’s section, although a bit less cohesive, also delivered, with quilted sweatshirts (inspired by the pattern on a Belgian waffle), chic, updated versions of the fleece, and bright dresses with interesting cuts. As the models strutted down the runway, pounds of Callebaut chocolate poured down the backdrop. How sweet it was.

Scott Sternberg’s Los Angeles-based label Band of Outsiders showed Saturday afternoon in a serene, open space on Wooster Street in Soho (the building will soon be home to the brand’s first boutique, opening this summer). The collection was a mix of playfully preppy and downtown cool, and, as always, was wearable in a very different way. Sternberg showed a sweatshirt wrapped around a hips-style skirt, oversized faux furs, and thigh-length cardigans. "I was thinking about getting back to preppy, school roots but looking at it through a romantic, surrealist eye," Sternberg said of his collection, citing photographer Lee Miller, and her romantic partner Man Ray, and the late-fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli as his main inspirations. Statement pieces, including a “B” letter cardigan, an emoji-style printed sweatshirt, and updates of the classic varsity sweater, emphasized the brand’s whimsical approach to the standard Ivy League look. The final ensemble, a dip-dyed floral dress with above-the-elbow leather gloves, was the most surreal of all, giving a hint of the evolution to come from Band of Outsiders.