Looks from Diotima’s spring 2024 collection.Credit…Deirdre Lewis
The designer Rachel Scott’s focus on tailoring and craft — in particular, crochet made in her native Jamaica — has been clear since she launched her brand, Diotima, in 2021. But it wasn’t until she held her first presentation, at a gallery in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood earlier this month, that fashion week attendees were able to observe the line’s detailing up close: Models traversed the room in intricate bead vests and floor-length gowns made from delicate, netlike cotton fabrics. Scott, 39, formerlya vice president of design at Rachel Comey, also collaborated with the Jamaican visual artist Laura Facey this season, drawing inspiration from the work in Facey’s 2022 solo exhibition at the Kingston arts venue Ormsby Hall. “It had a haunting energy,” Scott said in a statement, “one that prompted me to reflect, once again, upon the history and legacy of slavery in the Caribbean.” Facey’s chalk drawing “Seed” (2022) appeared as a textile print, and the artist made small versions of her heart-shaped wooden sculptures, which Scott hung like talismans from long cord necklaces and silver hoop earrings.
The New York-based line Fforme held its first runway show last week, establishing its status as a rising star of understated American sportswear. The label’s creative director, Paul Helbers, 54 — who has worked at Maison Margiela, Louis Vuitton and the Row, where he helped launch men’s wear — elaborated on his vision of what he has called “a uniform for living,” offering loose, elegant pieces intended to mix easily with those from the brand’s past three collections (and whatever else a wearer might have in their closet). His signature palette of black, off-white and navy was updated with soft earth tones including amber, taupe and shell pink, and silhouettes ranged from coats with sculptural gathered sleeves to flowing tunics that can be transformed, via zippers, into shift dresses. But it was the fabrics that spoke loudest: fine rib knits, felted cashmere and a shimmering hammered silk lamé that glistened like water.
Slowness is an overarching theme for the New York-based artist and designer Wenjüe Lu, 25, who established her namesake label in 2022 with the line’s co-founder, Chufeng Fang, also 25. The pair set out to challenge the fast pace and wastefulness of the fashion industry, releasing a debut collection rooted in traditional craftsmanship; their all-white pieces, adorned with padded flowers, featured sashiko, a Japanese embroidery method similar to hand quilting. Last week, the designers presented their second annual collection at a warehouse in Long Island City, where models walked about in a trancelike state, seemingly summoned by the sound of snake rattles. They wore ruched, scalloped and quilted garments made from natural textiles such as raw linen and muslin — all in shades of white. Pieces including a stuffed toy rabbit cross-body bag and schoolboyish shorts suggested that New York’s avant-garde fashion scene is alive and well.
The Indian-born London-based designer Harikrishnan Keezhathil Surendran Pillai, 29, made headlines earlier this year when the singer Sam Smith wore a custom piece by his line, Harri, to the Brit Awards: a black latex bodysuit with dramatically ballooning arms and legs. The designer, who grew up in Kerala and assisted the New Delhi-based designer Suket Dhir before attending the London College of Fashion, has become known for his theatrical explorations of proportion, often executed in rubber. But if the shapes of his signature inflatable pants are purposefully outlandish, they’re often offset by more subtle cotton and bead-woven separates, showing Pillai’s skill for mixing textures. The designer received the British Fashion Council’s Newgen grant for the second time this year and showed his third collection last week.
Since founding her namesake brand in 2018, the London-based designer Tolu Coker, 27, has produced a collection in the Democratic Republic of Congo to honor women who survived violence and created T-shirts to benefit the humanitarian nonprofit Choose Love. At the core of her practice is a belief in community, and she draws frequently on her Nigerian heritage for inspiration. She titled her spring 2024 collection “Irapada,” which means “redemption” in her parents’ native language, Yoruba, and its pieces — which ranged from flared dresses made from upcycled denim and houndstooth jacquards to ’70s-inflected suiting — are a celebration of her ancestry.
Named after the Dutch word for “summer,” Zomer, a new women’s wear brand from the Russian-born designer Danial Aitouganov, 30, and the Dutch Caribbean stylist Imruh Asha, 32, will present its first collection in Paris later this month. After meeting in Amsterdam as teens, the friends went on to establish themselves separately in the fashion world: Aitouganov has worked in the design studios at Burberry, Chloé and, most recently, the French men’s wear brand Études; Asha has styled for brands including Dior and Louis Vuitton while also serving as the fashion director at Dazed magazine. The pair say their debut collection, which will be sold by Dover Street Market, will emphasize their deep connection to art, with floral prints by the London-based set designer Ibby Njoya. Their tongue-in-cheek preview campaign — featuring images of children dressed as fashion world figures such as the designer Rei Kawakubo and the photographer Steven Meisel — implies it will also draw on their industry backgrounds, at least winkingly.