Fall Forward: Delightful Surprises From New York Fashion Week

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As New York Fashon Week struts on, those of us enamored with the world of fashion and design find ourselves glued to the blogs and slideshows and runway-side seating arrangements eagerly awaiting the thrilling “first-looks” of collections that are sometimes crazy magical, sometimes perfectly wearable, or happily both at the same time.

Already there is plenty to ruminate over. Day 2 in the Big Apple gave us Zimmermann’s long wool coats (in camel and soft purple), wide-brimmed hats and Seventies prints we’re dying to work into our own Fall/Winter repertoire.

Although autumn is on the mind, spring is always in the heart (and a highly anticipated part of fashion week). In his Moroccan-inspired Spring 2016 collection Christian Siriano featured lithe models in a sea of soft pastel shades (corals, blues, greens and yellows). They easily draped headscarves up top and paired the accessory with mini dresses, cut-out gowns and even flowing, luxe pant suits. Siriano told fashion site Refinery29 he was drawn to the culture and lifestyle of North Africa and the desert, particularly the “Feast of the Throne”–an event celebrated in Marrakesh where women and men swath themselves in brilliant white.

In a similar show of whimsy, long jewel-toned gowns were the thing at Tadashi Shoji, BCBG Max Azria on September 10. This time sensual Italy was the geographic locale that inspired the “Venetian Dreamscape” collection. Imagine a parade of long sleeves, belted waists, and statuesque silhouettes gliding down the runway. Lots of the ensembles proved that designers are enamored with modest options here and there.

Of course it’s fun to dream and speculate and adapt ourselves into new worlds and new work clothes ala the world’s top designers. But what of real-world application? It turns out, not all of Fall 2015’s goodies are exclusive to New York’s garment district. This month affordable fashion retailer H&M announced a groundbreaking, noteworthy campaign that reuses old clothing and incorporates it into new designs. The innovative move shows the popular Sweden-based clothier continues to change with the seasons, this time showing its customers they are doing their part to practice sustainable fashion (and in a very fashionable way).

H&M partnered with Close the Loop, the world’s largest recycling and resource recovery company that recycles major brand items and offers “an end of life solution tailored to your needs,” according to their site.

The fashionable partnership stands out for a few reason. When I first stumbled upon the web ad on H&M’s homepage, I did a double-take. (Not a small thing for those of us who are inundated with flashing banner ads and promotions day-in, day-out.) This ad was different. It featured an 70-something, shirtless man whose “look” could best be described as “haggard”: saggy skin, lots of wrinkles, and he wasn’t Mick Jagger, either–just some guy.

Furthermore, the video promo pieces encourage people to “Leave your unwanted garments in any of our 3,300 stores. We reuse them or recycle them into new clothes” and goes on to showcase an enormously diverse cast (in print and online). “Be chic” they say, featuring a stylish young women in hijab, and a group of sikh men in turbans, and a man with prosthetic limbs, the “ugly” and the “beautiful”, the rich and the poor, the old and the young. Real people in a fashion campaign … what a concept!

It feels like the beginning of something exciting. We’ve all heard of eco-conscious fashion. But does “conscious fashion” and “editorial fashion” always successfully connect? Will “little” H&M succeed in their do-goodery? And can such an endeavor ever catch on with other retailers?

Either way the fresh anticipation of events like NYFW, or even just a crisp new catalog on the stoop, could not come at a more appropriate time of year. This momentum is not unlike how we gear up for that first chilly evening or crunch of leaves underfoot. It coincides with the blessed seasonal closet rotation from sundresses to sweaters.

We intuitively know it’s a time to turn the page and research tomorrow’s trends, and in doing so we find ourselves inspired all over again.