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Despite a rainy morning, the weather at New York Fashion Week on Friday ended up sunny and temperate — the perfect weather to explore how fashion is evolving over the coming seasons.
One of the most notable themes of the day was the increasingly blurred line between women’s and men’s fashion. At Nanushka’s fall-winter 2019 presentation, designer Sandra Sandor debuted her first collection where she designed both men’s and women’s wear at the same time.
It was evident both from the designs — most of which would have looked right at home on any of the male or female models lounging around the Greenwich Village venue — and from the presentation. The men and women showing the collection stood all mixed together, with no separation between the men’s and women’s clothes.
“For me, designing the two together has really changed how I look at things,” Sandor said, shouting to be heard over the live band that was playing during the presentation. “Usually when I do only womenswear, there’s a lot of menswear-inspired stuff, but now that I’m doing both, they really blur together. I see it as a whole, together, and it shows to me that there is a bond between the genders. They are not so different. That’s a huge theme at fashion week now, and a lot of designers are approaching fashion that way.”
Others followed the same pattern, even if their collections were exclusively women’s wear. At Hellessy’s show at Spring Studios, the women’s collection was a bold mix of the masculine and feminine, with legendary model Pat Cleveland wearing a boxy trench coat in a traditionally masculine color one moment and a billowy, ultra-feminine dress the next.
For the Nonie show later in the day, Canadian designer Nina Kharey purposely designed her fall-winter pieces with the idea that they do not easily fall into traditional gender roles.
“I’m very inspired by menswear,” Kharey said after the show. “I’m a very classic person. I’m very traditional, so I study how menswear is traditionally designed and fitted. Then when I make womenswear, I’m thinking about menswear. But there’s no inherent difference between the two. Men wear our women’s clothes, and they look amazing. I categorize it as womenswear, but I’m designing with the idea in mind that this can be worn by anyone –– and it frequently is.”
But there were still traditionalists among New York’s fashion shows. The second Kate Spade show to be designed by creative director Nicola Glass was filled with traditionally feminine designs, from the clothes, which were a colorful mix of floral dresses and pastel pants, to the setting of the show itself, which was blanketed in lilac carpeting.
Last February, NYFW saw the first hints that co-ed fashion shows and unisex clothing were catching on for real. But the crossover between men’s and women’s fashion goes beyond the runway. Late last year, we saw a slew of brands that traditionally catered to one or the other branching out across gender lines.
For some of the designers at NYFW, this loosening of restrictions on what men and women can wear has been creatively freeing.
“I’m definitely more daring in what I design for both men and women now,” said Sandor. “We have a lot of women who want to wear our men’s clothes and vice versa.”
Five questions with…Sandra Sandor, founder of Nanushka
What were some of the the things you were thinking about while designing this collection?
So it’s called “Mystery Child,” and that kind of sums up what I wanted the feel to be. A child is really free-spirited, optimistic. Being childlike is a state of mind that’s free from preconceptions. That’s what I wanted to say and what I wanted people to feel when they look at it.
Why did you decide to do a presentation instead of a runway show?
I really wanted to have a close space, almost like a living room. It’s almost like you walked into someone’s apartment. This is our third presentation in New York, and we always do it this way. I just love this concept.
It definitely feels like you’re in someone’s home. There’s even a dog running around. Is he yours?
He is not mine, actually! That was not planned at all. One of the models brought his dog with him, and we just loved him so much, we’re letting him run around the show.
Are you going to any other shows this week?
I don’t usually go to the other shows, no. I’m too focused on what we’re doing now and what we’re doing next. I usually only see them through Instagram.
How are you going to celebrate after the show? Taking a break?
No break! Flying right to Paris after the show for a shoot, and then right after that, there’s a three-day premiere that I need to be working on. But after all that is finally done, I’m taking a much needed vacation.
“Can we take the stairs? I can’t stand waiting for these damn elevators.” — an incensed attendee at Spring Studio
“I don’t know anything about her, but I love everything about her.” — audience member before the Hellessy show about the brand’s designer Sylvie Millstein, who slipped out after the show without giving any interviews
“Everyone here is dressed like they’re in middle school.” — a guest at the Slam Jam x Nike NYFW afterparty, referring to the preponderance of flannel shirts, beanies and skateboards
NYFW Briefing: Rachel Comey and 11 Honoré set the tone with diverse castings
New York Fashion Week launches with a statement on diversity
How Adidas is using fashion week as a launchpad for new collaborations
Among tonight’s noteworthy shows are Jeremy Scott and Chinese streetwear brand Refuse Club. The latter will be hosting its debut show, which will mix traditional Chinese materials with Western styles, as the presence of Chinese brands at NYFW grows each year.
This article is part of our series on New York Fashion Week. For more NYFW coverage delivered daily to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter.