2021 Fashion … Let’s Get ‘Phygital’!

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Masked-Up NY Fashion WeekThe New York Fashion Collections for Spring-Summer 2021 gave new meaning to the term ‘designer original’ for 2021. Top fashion designers outdid themselves during the pandemic season that not only challenged their inner innovation, but also prompted them to resource new ‘socially safe’ venues with very limited audiences.

It wasn’t easy to keep it all exciting, but designers took on the task and got ‘phygital’. Beyond the traditional Fashion Week showings, the creatives combined both digital and physical formats to show their work – and still kept the ‘show and tell’ fashion momentum alive. From runways to rooftops … catwalks to street walks … from inside the tent to outside in the designer’s own private backyards surrounding Manhattan … the show went on brilliantly, often live streaming to the masses while presenting ‘live’ to extremely limited but ‘safe’ audiences.

‘Masked up’ was a major fashion statement this season, as designers turned a must-wear safety criteria into a must-have seasonal ‘accessory’.  Casual elegance abounded at Christian Sciriano’s own backyard picnic-and-pool experience in Connecticut. His ruffled hi-low hemline taffeta dresses and mutli-tiered ruffled chiffon skirts with wide-brimmed hats and masks to match were stunning in red, pink and black and beautiful colors.  Typical of Sciriano, there is always an element of ‘playfulness’ about his collections, including full and free natural textured hair looks, island-inspired halter tops and the message ‘Vote’ seen imprinted boldly from hats-to-toes.

Designer Jason Wu chose the Spring Studios Terrace in Tribeca (and online) to show his easy Bohemian looks and Tulum-inspired nuances that made for an eclectic collection. Models wore eyelet lace-hemmed sundresses and striped sandals … lots of middle-parted, naturally textured curly hair. Via ‘virtually phygital’ live streaming throughout, he expressed that ‘the world needs beauty and optimism’ …  and that’s exactly what the world got from Wu this season. Brimmed hats added to the spirited mix.

New York Fashion Week HairThe creatives are also focused on bringing back ‘a new normalcy’, as values shift from ‘consumerism and materialism’ to adapt to new priorities and values (People.com). ‘Masked up’ remained de rigueur with jumpsuits and jackets being huge with Chromat, while Alice + Olivia celebrated artists and creatives via featured performers dancing in the New York streets.

Continuing the concept of ‘post pandemic’ were designers Veronica Beard, Nicole Miller, Rodarte and Cynthia Rawley, with the lockdown experience showing itself with sweatshirts and pants-inspired clothes. It’s all about resilience and relaxed, adapting to a new lifestyle that demands comfortable but presentable pieces. … put together but not overdressed. Jason Wu also focused on comfort, versatility, and accessibility throughout his collection.

Zac Posen created couture in Central Park, as he took one piece of fabric and draped it elegantly over mannequins. To paraphrase, the designer wanted to ‘thank the people of New York who have handled COVID like heroes’.

Hair fashion followed suit throughout all the collections, allowing hair its own natural ‘free and easy’ behavior, be it totally straight, soft waves, multi-textured (a la Ana Sui) or crazy curly. Bobs and messy buns have never really left the catwalk yet, along with lower ponies and classic sleeked-back gel chignons and updos that are still turning heads in any season (watch for ‘squared off’ knot rolls at the nape). The classic longer page continues to survive among all trends, along with super long bangs. The operative phrase for most Spring-Summer 2021 easy hair fashion looks is “I wake up like this”!

Sharon Esche Irving

Beauty/Fashion Writer, Author

Sharon Esche Irving is a writer and publicist who specializes in the fields of fashion and beauty. An award-winning journalist, columnist, and multi-published author (MacMillan and G.P. Putnam Publishers), Sharon has covered all aspects of the retail and professional beauty industry. The former head of Public Relations and Advertising for Clairol Professional, Inc., she has come to love and specialize in the professional side of beauty, working with the most respected individual experts, salons, spas, distributors, manufacturers, associations, and media representing all segments of the industry. Formerly based in New York, Sharon’s beauty public relations company, Esche & Alexander PR is now headquartered in southern CA. Contact: sharon@beauty-pr.com; www.beauty-pr.com

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