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New York Fashion Week sees runways turning into a cultural melting pot

By Kristopher Fraser


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New York Fashion Week is slowly coming to an end, and the final day saw collections from brands including XULY.Bet, Naeem Khan, Bibhu Mohapatra, and Anna Sui. These particular collections showed the increasing inspiration from diverse racial, ethnic, and artistic backgrounds being brought to the runway at NYFW.

For XULY.Bet, designer Lamiane Badiane Kouyate debuted the first ever show at New York Fashion Week to feature all Black models. His collection was inspired by streetwear styles, hip-hop culture, and lots of prints. While Kouyate should be commended for his history making approach to diversity on the runways, his collection was a bit underwhelming.

It was everything that you would expect from a street style inspired line with urban influences, such as jumpsuits and oversized sports jersey jackets, but it got to be preditcable. Kouyate has potential though, as the collection wasn't bad, but one expects more wow factor from a show at NYFW. The potential is there, he just needs to step it up a notch.

Indian designer Bibhu Mohapatra took his inspiration from the image of the Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi. The collection was focused on exploring the prowess and poise of the female mind. Looks included offerings such as a colorblocked warrior crepe dress, an ebony double faced cashmere coat, and an imperial red crepe dress with embroidered Ginko leaves.

Anna Sui, Bibhu Mohapatra, Naeem Khan, and XULY.Bet bring cultural diversity to the runways at New York Fashion Week

While China has long been inspiring luxury fashion, Mohapatra's ability to pinpoint one main figure and create such an artistically original collection is quite impressive. He didn't miss a beat with a single look in this historically inspired collection, and brought the richness of Chinese history to contemporary high-fashion.

Another Indian designer who brought the magic to runways at New York Fashion Week was celebrity favorite Naeem Khan. He actually found his inspiration in America's art culture drawing inspiration from New York's Art Deco influence.

The first look in his collection, a multi velvet applique cocktail dress, was a slow build up to a jaw dropping set of looks such as an onyx velvet ankle length illusion gown, a silver metallic hammered sequin floor length cape, and a strapless gunmetal floral embroidered gown.

Khan reminded us how intertwined the worlds of fashion and art continue to be, and the beauty that is created when the two meet in perfect harmony.

Designer Anna Sui found artistic and cultural inspiration from all over the world for her Fashion Week collection. Inspiration came from artist Peter Blake's pop art collage based on The Beatles' 1967 album, sculptures by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, and sixties London cult label Biba which was founded by Barbara Hulanicki who designed a print for the collection.

Looks included a plum fur coat with Mongolian trim, a navy psychedelic floral print crepe dress, a cassis mohair plaid jacket, a black skunk stripe fox fur jacket, and a a black cat jacquard jacket. The collection culminated to create a cohesive line of retro fashions excellently fit for contemporary fashion times. Sui found beauty in the old, and made it young, fresh, new, and stylish.

As fashion continues its beautiful evolution, the diversity of designers, models, and inspiration shown on the runways is beginning to reflect global history and art. Gone are the days when just European craftsmanship and artistry had the monopoly on fashion, and a new era has begun on the runways.

photos:via Fashion GPS

Anna Sui
Bibhu Mohapatra
Naeem Khan
New York Fashion Week