From Feb. 9 to Feb. 16, New York was about more than skyscrapers, subways and street food — that’s because for those seven days, all of Manhattan was under the spell of New York Fashion Week. Showing off the Fall 2017 styles of designers like Derek Lam, Ralph Lauren, Anna Sui and more, NYFW gives us a preview of the trends, colors and silhouettes that will be popular in the months to come. However, this fashion week wasn’t just about the clothes; from engaging in political commentary to taking a stand for diversity, NYFW made a statement beyond the styles debuted. In case you were busy with homework and snow day parties, here are the most buzzed about highlights from the recently concluded fashion week:
Ashley Graham walks for Michael Kors
Ashley Graham seems to be everywhere these days: from her stint on America’s Next Top Model to placement in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition with swimwear line Swimsuits for All, Graham is literally America’s top model. So while it should come as no surprise that she was tapped to walk the runway of the Michael Kors fall/winter fashion show, ELLE magazine offers that her appearance was “notable” because last season, Kors said that it would be difficult to send plus-size models down the runway. Arguing that he would “have to have a football stadium filled with clothes before I was able to put on a fashion show,” considering the amount of sizes he would need to have on hand; yet Kors seems to have changed his mind on the matter, letting Graham show off a curve-hugging bodycon dress — while also showing that beauty is not a function of size.
Politics takes centerstage
While the arts and politics are realms that tend to overlap, this year was certainly no exception. TIME magazine notes that a host of designers and fashion figures used NYFW to make a political statement, noting that even Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour got in on the action by wearing a pin in support of Planned Parenthood. Some designers, however, took things a bit further. TIME reports that designer Mara Hoffman “opened her show with a reading from the leaders of the women’s march, Bob Bland, Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour,” which included quotes from Angela Davis and Maya Angelou. Prabal Gurung incorporated political messages into the clothing itself, says TIME, sending models down the runway in T-shirts emblazoned with feminist messages, one of which read, “Yes, we should all be feminists.”
Designers are (finally) getting diverse
Other fashion shows decided to make a statement by increasing the diversity represented in the models they sent down the runway. As Mic reports, several designers and brands chose to showcase models of different sizes, ethnicities and even gender identities. Chromat — an “architectural swim and athletic wear” line — had one of the more diverse runway shows, featuring Swedish plus-size model Sabina Karlsson, reports Mic, as well as several transgender models, such as Aurel Haize Odogbo and Leyna Bloom. Christian Siriano also contributed to the increased diversity at NYFW, according to Mic, though not just in size or ethnicity; instead, he chose to send older models like Alek Wek (age 39) and Karolina Kurkova (age 32) down the runway, something that contrasts the young crop of models that typically populates fashion week.
While NYFW will always be about debuting a host of new styles and trends that will infiltrate retailers for months to come, this fashion week may just produce a change in the industry that will influence diversity and inclusivity for generations.