New York AW17
Naeem Khan and Irina Vitjaz
Naeem Khan: A celebration of culture
On the morning of Valentine’s Day, Indian-American designer Naeem Khan unveiled his own definition of love with a very inspiring runway show. The intricate collection incorporated styles and techniques from around the world, including Poland, India and the Middle East, embracing diversity and celebrating unique cultures. Sophisticated bedazzled pantsuits and beaded dresses – some of them gold and feathered, echoing the ‘30s, and others in leopard and floral prints – were a few of the standout pieces to grace the runway.
Towards the end of the show, the music stopped and attendees assumed that it was over. But in fact, there was one last look to come that encapsulated the entire collection’s very purpose. A model wearing a regal-looking, gold, lace gown took to the catwalk, her floral crown as imposing and breathtaking as she was. As she walked slowly, Maya Angelou’s poem Human Family played overhead. “I note the obvious differences in the human family,” the poem began. “The variety of our skin tones/ can confuse, bemuse, delight/ brown and pink and beige and purple/ tan and beige and white.”
Naeem Khan’s message was heard loud and clear through a collection that was not only a showstopper fashion-wise, but that was a much-needed injection of positivity and love amidst this time of chaos. The last verse of Angelou’s poem stuck with everyone in the room: “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”
Irina Vitjaz: A sense of grandeur
Following her impressive New York Fashion Week SS17 debut, which was welcomed with a standing ovation, Irina Vitjaz returned to the NYFW catwalk to prove that she’s here to stay. The Austria-based, Russia-born designer presented the audience with ethereal sequined dresses and voluminous gowns drawing from Russia’s heritage, with a refined, modern twist. The lively colours and elaborate layers of these imperial gowns carried Vitjaz’s roots, which date back to the 17th century when her noble family served the Russian tsar. A lengthy cream printed cape transported us straight to her origins and her luxurious fabrics came to life in the most spectacular way.
Next to those more royal pieces, the sheer metallic evening dresses in straight lines celebrated femininity with smart cuts, oversized sleeves and intricate embellishments. Big, shiny bows adorning some of the dresses, stripes in different colours and intense floral motifs were also some of the collection’s elements that stood out, making this a truly memorable show.
If anyone knows how to smoothly bring tradition and innovation together, it’s Irina Vitjaz. Her second NYFW show opened a door to a more fashion-forward version of Russia’s past, one that’s not meant to close any time soon.
Words by Konstantina Pyrnokoki
Photos by Kristen Walther