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Historically, women’s suiting in the Western world was associated with freedom and power, and, on several occasions, controversy. In the 1870’s, actress Sarah Bernhardt shocked audiences by wearing a custom-made trouser suit, which she called her “boy’s clothes;” she continued to challenge gender roles when she played Hamlet in 1899. In 1914, Coco Chanel designed her first suit, a fur-trimmed jacket with a matching ankle-length skirt, and in the 40’s, the zoot-suit became the uniform of female pachucas, a subculture of Mexican-Americans associated with gangs, nightlife and flamboyant public behaviour. In recent times, the suit has perhaps regressed into a reputation of conservatism or restriction but fashion designers continue to riff and expand on the classic, extending the definitions of power dressing. Taking a closer look at New York Fashion Week’s Fall/Winter 2020 collections, Something Curated highlights three young labels rethinking women’s tailoring for today.

Kim Shui || Kim Shui

Celebrating her Chinese heritage in her dynamic collections, designer Kim Shui was born in the US and grew up in Italy. Having dressed pop icons like Solange and Cardi B, this season saw a more covered-up version of Shui’s eclectic aesthetic walk the runway. Alongside her trademark silks and mini-dresses, models donned woolly coats, flowing pants, and various contemporary twists on suiting. Dissected, wrapped and re-joined, looks fused classic tailoring elements like pinstripes with ornate Chinese embroidered silks. Elsewhere, drawstring sleeves closed the ballooning arms of a heavily patterned blazer-dress hybrid.

Area || Beckett Fogg & Piotrek Panszczyk

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AREA FALL WINTER 20 – Look 17 #areanyc

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This season, Area designers Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk announced an on-going partnership with The Africa Center, where their show was hosted, in an effort to support the multidisciplinary New York cultural institution’s work, highlighting the influence of people of African decent in the city. The collection, inspired by the famed draping of Madame Gres, sees the designers re-contextualise this influence into their own visual language, nodding to Japanese costume-designer Eiko Ishioka. Sensual suiting, boasting sleek lines and plenty of cut-outs, came styled with pieces from a collaboration with myreality, designer Harry Nuriev and Tyler Billinger’s newly launched project. 

Eckhaus Latta  || Zoe Latta & Mike Eckhaus

Eckhaus Latta return to NYFW with their energetic designs, this season spanning a progressive and, at times, incongruent series of pieces, ranging from metallic parkas and colour-blocked knitwear to defiant tailoring. This eclecticism underscores Eckhaus Latta’s widespread inspirations and the label’s equally diverse following. Partnering with designer clothing reseller The RealReal, the label sourced second-hand shoes for the show, in keeping with their ethos of reuse. Among the most striking of the looks was a series of lurid traffic-cone-orange pieces of suiting, intelligently reinterpreted for a younger audience seeking a touch of executive realness.  

Feature image: Area, Eckhaus Latta & Kim Shui Fall/Winter 2020 Shows (via NOWFASHION)

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