Tuesday, July 23, 2024

What Does the Future of Fashion Look Like in 2024?

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As the saying goes, everything old is new again. Long-held fashion traditions, from tailoring to luxury retail, are being reinvented by a fresh generation of up-and-coming talents.

The New Names to Know

Four young designers who are working within—and simultaneously upending—tradition.


HENRY GORSE

The New Romantic: Paolo Carzana

Paolo Carzana isn’t one for succinct collection titles. Past editions include “My Heart Is a River for You to Bend” and “Imagine We Could Be the Ones to Change It All.” The Wales-born, London-based designer comes from a long tradition of eccentric UK storytellers in the mode of Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. (He is currently an artist in residence at McQueen’s Sarabande Foundation.) Working with plant-based dyes and upcycled materials, he shapes narratives with his clothing, as in his fall 2024 collection, “Melanchronic Mountain,” which was based on the idea of an upward journey and saw models in puckered, faded layers and elaborate headwear made in collaboration with Nasir Mazhar. No wonder his work recently earned him a slot as an LVMH Prize finalist.

The New American Name: Colleen Allen

Witches have inspired American artists from Arthur Miller to John Updike. Now you can add Colleen Allen to that cohort. The designer’s first women’s collection, for fall 2024, channeled female sorcery as a loose inspiration. She didn’t go in for literal, double, double, toil and trouble motifs, but a mix of Victorian underpinnings and modern, gorpcore-adjacent elements like Polartec. The Witch meets The Blair Witch Project, perhaps.

“I was thinking about my own femininity and how I identify with being a woman,” the designer says. “It was something I hadn’t really worked through; this collection was the beginning of working through that idea.” She wanted the clothes to feel spiritual and ritualistic, opting for a powerful palette of orange (she has “an obsession” with the color), red, magenta, and purple, contrasted with antique white. The Victorian influence came from her collection of pieces from that era. The delicacy of a pair of bloomers contrasts with what Allen calls “these big, extroverted, ritualistic garments,” like a velvet opera coat that feels made for Tilda Swinton to swan around in.

Once you start working like that, there’s no going back.”—Colleen Allen on her time at The Row

The minimalist, American sportswear mood of the collection makes sense, given that Allen is an alum of Raf Simons’s Calvin Klein, where she interned after graduating from Central Saint Martins. And her attention to detail was honed at another American brand, The Row, where she was a menswear designer from 2021 to 2023. “The Row works with the most beautiful materials in the world, so I think it really gave me an appreciation for fabric and a true attention to detail in terms of the way that things are finished and constructed. They’re not afraid to do things in the absolute finest way possible,” she says. “Once you start working like that, there’s no going back. It really made me thoughtful about the way that materials are sourced and the interior of the garment is finished.”

Some of her latest pieces are also intentionally left unfinished, lined with a washed muslin that designers typically use for drafting clothes, not in their final product. “I love the softness and the earthiness of it,” Allen says. “My aversion to a lot of womenswear was that things become too precious, and you don’t want to wear it because it’s too much.” But, she notes, the sleeves are lined in silk. “So you still get that luxurious feeling.”

The New Tailoring Whiz: Tolu Coker

tolu coker

Courtesy of Tolu Coker

Car boot sales, the British answer to garage sales, were Tolu Coker’s introduction to fashion. Growing up in London, she and her family used to both host and shop them. Her parents immigrated to the UK from Nigeria, and “in terms of our socioeconomic status, we had to be really resourceful,” she says. The process also gave her an early glimpse of sustainability and creative reuse. “It wasn’t so much because of a deep passion, initially, for the environment,” she says. “It was just how I grew up.”

After graduating from Central Saint Martins and founding her line, Coker began showing at London Fashion Week last year. Her fall 2024 runway show drew on a trip she took to Ghana, where she observed local street hawkers. Coker’s mother had done street hawking in Lagos, and the designer notes that many hawkers “still live significantly below the poverty line. It’s created commerce, but it’s almost as though everyone benefits from it but them.” Another thing she took in was the massive amount of textile waste from the Global North (industrialized nations), which, she says, “literally lines the streets. Initially, I thought it was some sort of landscape. I didn’t realize that they were clothes until we got closer.”

For her show, she re-created the scene with a set that included food carts and tires on the runway. “I always think of Fashion Week as essentially being handed a microphone,” she says. She wanted “to honor hawkers, and the complete tenacity and innovation that is born out of a need to survive, but also just to be able to tell that story with dignity, because I think often in the Global North, we have a bit of a savior complex when we talk about the Global South, and it’s kind of like, ‘We’re not saving anyone. We’ve created the issue.’ ”

The collection drew on the way that Western clothes are repurposed and recontextualized in Africa. (“I was noticing stuff like people wearing a really great tailored suit, but they’ve got a football shirt underneath it that says Manchester United,” she says.) The models layered multiple bags and hats, the way hawkers do when advertising their wares. Most important was the sharp tailoring, which has become a hallmark of hers. “It’s very common for people from all walks of life in Nigeria to have an item that has been specifically tailored for them, which will be kept and worn to its absolute death and then revived, because there’s such a connection to the clothing and the process of acquiring it,” Coker says. She sees this kind of lifelong relationship with a piece of clothing as the definition of luxury.

Her clothing has another connection to the diaspora: She works with artisans in their sixties and seventies, some of whom come from her family’s community. “A lot of my friends think it’s weird: ‘If you like to knit, that’s an old person’s thing.’ Well, no, it’s a human thing,” she says. “I learn so much from craftspeople.”

a woman in a black dress

luca tombolini

The New Avant-Gardist: Duran Lantink

From Beyoncé to Billie Eilish to the pages of ELLE, the Dutch designer is everywhere right now. (And, like Carzana, he’s on this year’s list of LVMH Prize finalists.) He became known for his clever mash-ups using upcycled luxury fashion—think a half–Louis Vuitton, half-Gucci shopping bag. Long before the concept was chic, he experimented with upcycling back in art school. “They really didn’t appreciate the fact that I was using existing pieces,” he says. “I had to fight for four years to make sure that they understood.”

Nowadays, Lantink primarily works with his own found fabrics and recycled cottons. For fall, he deconstructed traditional skiwear. What could have been, as he puts it, “a bit of a banal, cheesy concept” turned into something very different in his hands, as he took Fair Isle patterns, fuzzy boots, and parkas in a left-field direction with the exaggerated foam padding that’s become one of his signatures. “I don’t care too much about what is considered commercial,” the designer admits, beaming in from his Amsterdam atelier in a UK Immigration Service baseball cap, his bearded face exploding in a grin. After all, when he sees designs that are just beautiful for the sake of being beautiful, “it doesn’t make my heart beat faster.”—Véronique Hyland


The New Runway Show Is Delightfully Analog

Pencils, paper, and old-fashioned theatricality dominated the season.


graphical user interface

Courtesy of Balenciaga

Are we all burned out on TikTok? At The Row this past season, attendees were asked to refrain from using their phones, encouraged instead to sketch the clothes with Olsen-provided notebooks and pencils, like old-school editors. The gambit may have counterintuitively gotten the label even more social media attention—attendees made sure to show off their analog gear post-show—but it also spoke to the fashion world’s fatigue with events built entirely to be showcased on a tiny screen.

Instead, IRL showmanship made a triumphant return, and some runway outings were bona fide events with elaborate, Broadway-worthy production values. Maison Margiela’s Brassaï-inspired couture outing under Paris’s Pont Alexandre III set the tone, with its theatrical spirit that recalled maximalist ’80s and ’90s runway spectacles. For fall 2024, Balenciaga’s set gave off the cluttered chaos of an ever-refreshing feed, while Chanel took inspiration from the Claude Lelouch film Un homme et une femme, with footage of its famed setting—the beach at Deauville—playing in the background.

I wanted to create an emotion, with a beating heart.”—Courrèges artistic director Nicolas Di Felice

At Courrèges, artistic director Nicolas Di Felice may have scored the surprise of the season with a sculpture made from Lycra and polystyrene that “breathed” like a living being. The designer collaborated with his friend, the set designer Rémy Brière, on the structure, which was nearly 30 feet in diameter and took eight days to construct. Instead of a made-for-TikTok spectacle, “I wanted to create an emotion, with a beating heart,” Di Felice says. The collection’s theme was “In Search of a Thrill,” and his innovative set delivered on that front, resulting in a moment best witnessed IRL, alongside fellow living, breathing audience members. “I wanted to work around sensuality, sexuality, intimacy—trying to reconnect with emotion,” Di Felice says. “When [the set] started to move, it really created an emotion, building up like shivers in the surrounding scene.”—Véronique Hyland


The New Fashion Flex: It’s From the Vault

There’s nothing quite like snagging (or re-creating) a hard-to-find piece of style history.


a person wearing a garment

Stephane Cardinale – Corbis

Unable to afford a prom dress at full price, Alexis Novak had to dig through the Goodwill racks. At the time, she found it embarrassing. Now she sees things differently. As the founder of Tab Vintage, an online store devoted to rare vintage clothing, Novak has transformed the thrill of the hunt into a curated luxury experience.

Harnessing the deluge of archival material online, Instagram-friendly sourcers like Tab Vintage and Shrimpton Couture can contextualize the pieces they’re selling with pictures of Kate Moss wearing the same look. It’s exclusivity rooted in nostalgia for older generations revisiting looks they loved—and a chance to introduce younger fashion enthusiasts to the original iterations of trends they see today.

new york, new york may 06 lana del rey attends the 2024 costume institute benefit for "sleeping beauties reawakening fashion" at the metropolitan museum of art on may 06, 2024 in new york city photo by taylor hillgetty images

Getty Images

Stylist Marc Eram noticed the rising interest in vintage transform into a full-blown trend during the height of COVID. “We were spending a lot of time on social media, where we were more exposed to these incredible archives,” he says. Shoppers can set an eBay alert for “1999 Prada” or “Phoebe Philo Céline,” and wait. Or they can let Novak do the work for them (she often helps source specific pieces for clients, and wakes up to thousands of alerts for searches she’s saved).

Customers are sliding into Novak’s DMs, searching for that piece no one else can have. “I can go online and order the same thing from the runway that a celebrity can,” she says. “Now what’s the next exclusionary thing? It’s these rare pieces.”

And it’s not just red-carpet regulars worried about someone stepping on their sartorial toes. Jamie Lenore McKillop, founder of home decor brand Lazy Jamie, wanted something one-of-a-kind for her wedding. “You definitely get a little bit of that fear,” McKillop says of wearing a current-season piece. “Is it going to become known as ‘her’ dress before I even get a chance to wear it?” McKillop worked with Novak and chose a fall 2006 Maison Martin Margiela dress as her welcome-party look.

On the red carpet, dipping into the archives isn’t just about rarity; it has also become a method of storytelling for stylists. A look might be chosen because it fits a theme, like Zendaya’s armorlike 1995 Thierry Mugler bodysuit at the Dune: Part Two London premiere; or it can be about the history of the piece itself, like Marilyn Monroe’s iconic gown, which Kim Kardashian wore to the 2022 Met Gala. As controversy around Kardashian’s look made clear, however, the risk of one-of-a-kind vintage is that it can be delicate (experts were concerned about damage to the piece’s structural integrity), not to mention expensive to care for. Novak works with a tailor who specializes in restoration, but not every piece can be saved. For the Academy Awards in March, Carey Mulligan wore a modern re-creation of a 1951 Balenciaga gown as a nod to the year her Maestro character, Felicia Montealegre, married Leonard Bernstein, while at the Met Gala, Lana Del Rey sported a custom Alexander McQueen design that referenced the house’s archives. Though an original design may be too fragile to rewear or impossible to track down, a re-creation can embody its best qualities, custom-made for a modern red carpet.

But for those collectors and designer fangirls hunting for the real thing, Novak is there. Currently, she’s trying to acquire a white John Galliano slipdress that she discovered when someone posted on Reddit hoping for help in ID’ing the look. “White Galliano slips are huge, especially with brides, because of that Kate Moss picture that’s been going around, circling just like a plane,” she explains. A pristine version “is very hard to come by…and this one still has tags on it.” If Novak secures it, the future bride who has the chance to wear that piece will be assuming her own place in fashion history. —Aemilia Madden


The New Luxury Visionaries

This season, four creative directors’ debuts caught the spotlight.


two women wearing clothing

Courtesy of Moschino

Adrian Appiolaza at Moschino

Argentinian designer Adrian Appiolaza’s résumé is so luxury-filled, it might as well be a Bergdorf Goodman rack: He’s worked at Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Loewe, and Chloé, among others. For his debut as creative director, Appiolaza channeled house founder Franco Moschino’s trademark sense of humor, with pieces like a “baguette” bag (that, yes, looks like bread), a shirt patterned with suspenders, and oversize question mark and smiley face motifs.

Chemena Kamali at Chloé

Did you get the memo? Boho is back, and Chemena Kamali has a lot to do with that. The French house’s new creative director racked up several stints there prior to taking on the role, so she’s hyper-familiar with everything the feminine-but-hippie Chloé girl wants. Namely, floaty chiffons, groovy ’70s trousers, and delicate logo belts. The ultimate bohemian dream girl, Sienna Miller, was seated front row.

tods

Courtesy of TOD’S

Seán McGirr at Alexander McQueen

The Dublin-born Central Saint Martins grad Seán McGirr held posts at JW Anderson, Burberry, and Dries Van Noten, among others, before coming to the house of McQueen as creative director. For fall 2024, his inspiration was the East End of London, which translated into looks that were dark, sleek, and clingy (along with exaggerated funnel-neck sweaters that instantly went viral).

a person in a red coat

Alberto Maddaloni

Matteo Tamburini at Tod’s

Born in Italy into a family of theatrical costumers, Matteo Tamburini knows a thing or two about creating dramatic fashion. For his first outing at Tod’s, the Pucci and Bottega Veneta alum drew on the house’s strong associations with leather. The material found its way into trenches, skirts, and cloaks, modeled by an all-star cast of supers that included Irina Shayk and Liu Wen.—Véronique Hyland


The New Retail Innovation Is the Very Niche Drop

With An Ocean of Ideas, Farah Marafie is reimagining what a fashion brand can be.


coat

Courtesy of AN OCEAN OF IDEAS

The divide between emerging designers and conglomerate-backed megabrands is getting wider every day. Newer labels are increasingly less likely to buy into traditional fashion business structures, while the top brands are churning out dozens of collections a year and seeing more and more returns. Younger brands need to focus on what they are good at, and for Farah Marafie, that means craftsmanship and true luxury. With An Ocean of Ideas (AOI), her multidisciplinary design house, craft comes before categorization.

Born in London and of Kuwaiti-Lebanese heritage, Marafie grew up immersing herself in the arts before making the move to New York to attend Parsons. After stints at several brands, including Opening Ceremony and Oscar de la Renta, she found herself exhausted by the fashion cycle, lamenting, “I can’t design the best coat on the runway, then rush back to my desk and design the next one.” After chatting with friends about having “an ocean of ideas,” she decided to set a new course.

Marafie now designs what she is passionate about, working around what’s available and who can help her realize her vision. Her “Drops” of “collectibles not collections” offer two distinct product categories, with limited runs of each piece, ensuring there is zero overproduction. Marafie rejects the idea of fashion ever being completely sustainable, but creating in this way allows for less overhead and waste, down to the initial patterns of her pieces. She’s made sunglasses, overcoats, and cashmere sweaters with Italian craftsmen and ceramics with Spanish artisans in Barcelona. She is seeing firsthand the effects of larger brands using fewer artisans to create products, diminishing the need for these largely family-run businesses. “There is a caliber and a standard they don’t teach you in school or at any job,” she says. Fashion newsletter writer Leandra Medine Cohen has a few pieces from AOI and echoes this sentiment: “The brand is as much about the process as it is about the items themselves.”

The world doesn’t need another fashion brand, so how do I make it count?”—Farah Marafie

AOI’s website notes how many hands worked on each product, which country it was made in, and how many hours of craftsmanship it took to create. Creative consultant Amanda Murray owns a patchwork leather coat from Drop 2 that passed through six pairs of hands over 195 days of craftsmanship. “The care and meticulous attention to detail is extremely special,” she says. “It’s all energy at the end of the day.”

In an oversaturated market, where it seems every influencer is starting a fashion brand because they can, AOI is the ultimate counterstrike. Now that she’s reaching tastemakers who truly understand her vision, Marafie feels vindicated. “The world doesn’t need another fashion brand,” she says, “so how do I make it count?”—Kevin LeBlanc


The New Savile Row Is on the Lower East Side

Daniella Kallmeyer is bringing the tailoring experience to a young, female audience.


kallmeyer

Courtesy of Kallmeyer

Suitmakers in New York are a dime a dozen—for men, that is. Several contemporary American brands offer tailoring for women, but none have cracked the code quite like Daniella Kallmeyer, who has set the New York style set ablaze with her progressive vision for female-forward suiting—minus the stuffiness associated with traditional formalwear.

Kallmeyer started her brand in 2012, after stints at Alexander McQueen in London and Proenza Schouler in New York. Her know-how comes from the worlds of Savile Row and downtown New York, where she saw firsthand what having a fashion business in America looks like. She also, as she puts it, “was raised by matriarchs—powerful women who asserted themselves in a kind of, ‘I’m dressing for myself’ way.”

The bread and butter of Kallmeyer is its suiting, which has taken on a life of its own and spawned countless copycats. She starts her cutting and draping process, like a traditional tailor, from the shoulders and hips for jackets and pants, respectively. But that’s where the old-school ends and her contemporary approach comes in. Her blazers are roomy without being baggy, her pants swooping without dragging. The Kallmeyer vest has become a staple for the downtown set and for celebrities like Katie Holmes and Sarita Choudhury, who actually purchase some pieces themselves (unheard-of in the celebrity world). It’s the new casual uniform for women who want to look effortlessly put-together.

a display of clothing

KATE OWEN

Kallmeyer is now a full-service ready-to-wear business, and every step has been intentional. The price point sits between contemporary brands and luxury, and with the cost of luxury clothing creeping ever skyward, Kallmeyer says that “to have an entry price point feels like a gift I’m able to give to people—and then they come back.” Every piece is considered, from her now-signature tie shirts to her belts and simple T-shirts, and she still cuts her patterns and makes samples right in New York, around the corner from her store.

Kallmeyer is growing her team, yet isn’t in a rush to expand. “I want to make sure that this is a profitable business, that we are creating deeper roots than we are leaves. You don’t need to please every single person,” she says. Her Lower East Side store is a cornerstone of the brand, allowing direct feedback from customers and creating a 360-degree shopping experience. “The four walls of this little shop became my whole world,” she says of opening the outpost during the pandemic. “Sometimes, when your world gets smaller, it gets bigger.” For the past few seasons, she’s shown at New York Fashion Week, bringing her vision to a different set of eyes: the fashion set. Her casual salon-style presentations draw equal parts fashion press and clients. And her slinky draped long-sleeved red dress and preworn leather jacket were the talk of the week, proving that sometimes, simply making great clothes is all it takes to set a city ablaze.—Kevin LeBlanc

This article appears in the August 2024 issue of ELLE.

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