Wolk Morais, Dur Doux, and Others at New York Fashion Week Create a Clash of Past and Present
The varying designs of Wolk Morais, Dur Doux, Colleen Allen, and Duncan show that designers, while inevitably influenced by the turbulent present, are also glancing to the past.
If you are unaware how terrible the world is—there’s a starter understatement for 10—the good news is that New York Fashion Week won’t let you forget, while also trying to sell you some clothes. The prevailing vibe of the early videos for this mostly-no-runway, pandemic fashion week has been the jarring contrast of really nice, expensive things to wear coupled with an air of baleful reflection.
There is nothing wrong, as Wolk Morais and many others have done, to underline that this Fashion Week is taking place during a pandemic, during a time of racial and cultural reckoning and overwhelming political angst. Still, Planet Fashion is still reassuringly Planet Fashion, and my favorite quote spoken during the beautiful Wolk Marais video—celebrating “the resilience of Hollywood”—was “I miss energies,” which one man says as models strut and pose in a delicious collection of fitted waistcoats, tweedy plus fours, tight silver shorts, and baggy-trousered suits (including in Houndstooth), gazing mournfully and confrontationally at the camera.
This video, Driven, deservedly won Best Fashion Film Award at the London Fashion Film Festival. The precise, impressive styling spans decades, with a heavy 1940’s vibe running smack into the ‘70s disco era, as if Studio 54 left the city for a shooting weekend. The collection has tinges of both nostalgia and very contemporary anxiety; a marriage and clash of past and present. So, like a lot of stuff at New York Fashion Week September 2020, you’ll smile at the beautiful clothes and sumptuously directed imagery, and also feel a bit shit about everything as well. Tim Teeman
For her debut NYFW presentation, Colleen Allen took the idea of staging a “digital show” quite literally, putting her clothes on CGI models who walked empty, dystopian New York streets. Each one came up from a subway entrance in cartoon versions of suits made by the Central Saint Martins grad, who favors futuristic-meets-Y2K menswear like chunky cargo pants, mesh tank tops, and oversized blazers. Creative (and creepy) as the digitized models may be, these clothes are smart enough to be worn by real people. Alaina Demopoulos
Dur Doux, a label led by the mother/daughter team Cynthia and Najla A. Burt, made its debut at NYFW very colorful. Based in DC, but keeping dreams of far-off travel as an inspiration, the Dur Doux women made clothes that are bright, textured, and just plain fun.
Mini skirts were given voluminous bustles, capri pants were paired with sweeping tulle tops, and a tiger pattern cape topped off a party dress. There are more than a million reasons to wish for a return to pre-COVID life and entertaining; the Burts reminded us of a not-so-distant past when dressing up was part of life, and very fun to do. AD
According to Michelle Duncan’s show notes, the New York designer “builds armor for those edgier girls who have gone corporate but also for those who prefer their tailoring with a hint of after dark glamour.”
What does that mean, exactly? Take a look at her NYFW collection filled with drop-waists, pleated skirts, and a black-and-white color palette. The hems are long and the necks are high, but modesty goes naughty with the addition of fishnet gloves and combat boots. It’s a polished, punk evolution of the prairie dress trend that allows women to cover up and still be sexy. AD