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New York Fashion Week Fall 2024: 6 Designers to Know Now

— Collage by Ashley Peña

Whether you’re ready or not, New York Fashion Week has arrived once more—and with the big-name mainstays arrives a handful of designers making their debuts on the CFDA calendar for fall 2024. Usually, the list of NYFW virgin brands is filled with mostly unknown and independent names. But this time around, it’s rounded out by some more established designers. The big headline is likely Ludovic de Saint Sernin, who’s coming to show in New York for the first time in his seven-year career. He will be joined by Derek Lam, the newly appointed creative director of Câllas Milano, who is returning to NYFW five years after his last presentation. Of course, up-and-coming brands will also be represented, as Jane Wade, Meruert Tolegen, Bishme Cromartie, and Colleen Allen all take on the official schedule for the first time. Below, familiarize yourself with their work before they become household names.

Ludovic de Saint Sernin

If you recognize any name on this list, chances are it’s Ludovic de Saint Sernin. The Parisian designer has been around for a minute—and his sexy, body-embracing designs have become a favorite of Kendall Jenner, Troye Sivan, and Olivia Rodrigo. There was also his short yet memorable stint as the creative director of Ann Demeulemeester, if only for the creation of the wardrobe malfunction-defying feather-adorned top Hunter Schafer wore to the Vanity Fair Oscars after party last year. Now, however, de Saint Sernin is back to designing solely for his eponymous label, one he affectionately says is “autobiographical.”

“At its core, [the brand] is really about someone living their dream and sharing it with the rest of the world,” he tells W over Zoom. And for fall/winter 2024, that dream is taking de Saint Sernin to New York, where he will present outside of the Paris Fashion Week calendar for the first time in LdSS’s history. Hosting a show in New York has been a goal for de Saint Sernin for quite some time. The designer has an affinity for the city, and feels his work is often more appreciated in the States than in Europe. “It’s where I see the most people wear my clothes on the daily,” he says of America. “I’ll be on the street and see someone wearing my bag.” The show—which will be presented in collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation—will take place in Chelsea, “around all the art galleries and the queer artists I’ve always admired,” he says.

De Saint Sernin won’t give away too many spoilers when it comes to the actual contents of his upcoming collection, but history suggests there will be unapologetically sexy silhouettes which celebrate the form, regardless of gender. “I’ve never put this much research and work into any other collection,” he says. Of course, the hallmarks of his designs will likely remain—the lithe fabric choices, grommet details, the effortless draping on the body. “I always say my collections are like personal diaries that I share with the world,” he says. “And this one is kind of like the climax of that.”

Câllas Milano

Derek Lam is back at New York Fashion Week for the first season in five years—but don’t bother looking for his name on the official calendar. The designer, who shuttered his eponymous line in 2019, is returning as the creative director of Câllas Milano, the Paris-based label founded in 2020 by Marco Panzeri and Lam’s husband, Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann. Named after the famed opera singer, Maria Callas, the brand is known for producing lifestyle-driven clothing at a more accessible price point, inspired by the European sensibility and style of its namesake. Lam, who joined the team at the beginning of 2024, is adamant that this is not Derek Lam’s Câllas, though the designer does hope his involvement will help to add a “distinctive persona” to the brand to differentiate it from other labels in the saturated space.

For the designer, the ability to take on the role of creative director without the added burden of business owner feels freeing. “I can reimagine and get reinspired to create something unique that may be different from what I’ve done before,” he says. He’s also able to remove his ego from the process, which isn’t always easy for creatives. “It’s not about me. It’s about Câllas—where we want it to go and how we want it to be represented.” Lam’s presentation at NYFW will be a capsule rather than a full collection. But the tentpoles will stay the same. Of course, Callas and her style are an inspiration for the brand (“If you were to ask Jan, ‘Who do you think is the ultimate artist, someone who epitomized greatness?’ For him, it’s Maria Callas,” Lam explains). But Lam has built from that by further considering the woman for whom he is designing. “She is strong. She has a European sensibility and she really loves fashion and clothing,” he says. “But it’s about her personality first.”

Meruert Tolegen

If you think fashion takes itself way too seriously, Meruert Tolegen may be the designer for you. The Kazakhstan native uses words like “quirky” and “weird” to describe her design aesthetic—and while those terms can be fairly wide-ranging in fashion, when it comes to Meruert Tolegen, they’re actually fitting. Take a print Tolegen produced for her spring 2024 collection, topically named “Swans of Truman,” which depicts women in dresses with swan heads for arms. “I try to use a bit of humor in my own way,” Tolegen tells W. “I would say the clothes are more on the artistic side of the creative spectrum, rather than being cool or edgy like a streetwear brand.”

It all makes sense when considering the brand’s beginnings. After taking a break in her career in bio-sciences following the birth of her daughter, Tolegen decided she wanted to try her hand at something creative. So, inspired by her new role as a mother, she launched La Petite Anaïs, a multibrand retailer that specialized in children’s clothes. Children’s clothes turned to mommy-and-me dresses. She eventually ditched the mini versions.

Tolegen’s lack of formal design knowledge means she’s had to learn on the job, but her outsider perspective has also proven to be an asset. The designer has embraced artificial intelligence in the design process, turning toward tech to help with the development of prints (including “Swans of Truman” and her fall 2024 collection, for which she worked with AI to create two new prints. Tolegen is quick to clarify, however: “AI doesn’t create the art for you, it just helps get results faster.”). The creative side comes from a more genuine place—Tolegen’s childhood in Kazakhstan, her relationship with her grandparents, and her current state of mind. “Every season, I look at the collection, and I can see roughly what kind of mood I was in when I created it,” she said. “Right now, the world is pretty turbulent, so I wanted this collection to help center me and the people who wear it. I just wanted to provide some lightness.”

Jane Wade

Jane Wade’s third full-size collection, which will mark her debut on the CFDA calendar, is titled Out of Office—a meditation on bridging the gap between work and officewear, something Wade has been pondering since she launched her brand in 2022. The idea stemmed from her parents, who were both salon workers. Wade recalls her mom in designs by Junya Watanabe and Comme des Garçons, while her father, who also dabbled in carpentry, “wore Dickies, Carhartts, the classic men’s workwear uniform of the ’90s.” Jane Wade exists somewhere in between these two ends of the spectrums. A look through Wade’s last collection, The Commute, confirms such inspirations. The officewear staples are all there, in the form of blue button-down shirts and blazers, as are those workwear tentpoles in khakis and canvas. But everything is deconstructed in the vein of CDG or Junya, and nothing is as it seems at first glance. Tool belts are miniskirts and jackets are modular, sliced in half with one unzipping. “I try to look at the use for garments, not just their beauty,” Wade tells W.

Out of Office is the next step in a design concept Wade has been building for a few years. In this iteration, she’s looking at the “corporate machine” for inspiration. “We never really clock out of our offices,” she says. “And there’s this idea of a fantasy, utopian vacation that really doesn’t exist for creatives because we never leave our e-mails.” Wade herself has plenty of experience in an office environment—before starting her own brand, she took jobs at Alexander Wang, Danielle Frankel, and Elena Velez, working with the latter two in a development director role. Those experiences helped push her to eventually launch her own line. “It gave me the confidence to say, ‘Okay. I’ve done this twice now within these small brands, and now, I have the resources I need.” All of those tools are now tucked neatly inside her chic miniskirt tool belt—and she’s ready to show off her work.

Colleen Allen

When Colleen Allen enrolled at Parsons School of Design, she decided to go the menswear route. “I really wanted to do tailoring,” Allen tells W. “It felt like the best way to immerse myself and learn the true craft of it.” The second reason for her choice was slightly less empirical: “At the time, there was more to say about menswear. There was a lot to unpack and break down.” Now, though, about a decade later, Allen believes she (and the fashion world at large) is ready to move on from the menswear conversation. “I feel it has been worked through, considered, and now there’s this shift where we need to talk about women and their embodiment.” So, as Allen launches her self-named brand at New York Fashion Week this season, she’s stepping away from her menswear roots entirely, and showing a collection inspired in many ways by her connection to femininity.

The skills she gleaned at Parsons (as well as Central Saint Martins) are evident in the collection, which is filled with unexpected tailored pieces. A Victorian-style waistcoat is rendered in an athletic fleece, making it more appropriate for a hike in the mountains than a high-powered office meeting.

Allen speaks like she designs, with a slightly esoteric tilt. She talks of the “archetype of the witch,” another inspiration for her collection. Her work lives within a philosophical world she has created, and every decision made is considered on a spiritual level. There’s a mysticism to her that isn’t obvious in her designs, which are rendered in warm, bright hues. But that just makes Colleen Allen, both the designer and the brand, all the more enticing.

Bishme Cromartie

Bishme Cromartie is no stranger to career highs. In 2023 alone he won Project Runway All Stars and dressed Michelle Williams for the Renaissance film premiere. Maybe that’s why he seems unnaturally calm ahead of his fall/winter 2024 presentation at New York Fashion Week. Or, it’s because he doesn’t consider his upcoming show—which will be held at the Ritz Hotel—his NYFW debut (He presented last season, he just didn’t make it onto the official CFDA website). This time, though, there’s no questioning—he’s made it.

Anyone who watched Cromartie on season 17 of the Bravo design competition show already knows about his design sensibility: strong silhouettes, bold colors, and unexpected textures. “It’s very in your face,” Cromartie tells W of his aesthetic. “I love to showcase the woman in a bold way.” He’s taken to describing the look as “street-garde,” a mix of streetwear and avant-garde, and those influences are clear when looking at his work—bombers and hoodies are elevated to new levels while cargo pants are topped with tulle skirts.

This season, Cromartie has titled his collection “The Batrix,” a play on the hit 1999 science fiction film. “There won’t be in-your-face references to The Matrix, but if you pay close attention, you’ll see it,” he says. He also hints that Project Runway fans may recognize touches from his days on the show, though don’t expect the over-exaggerated shoulders that became his signature on the program. Cromartie doesn’t want to be forever characterized as the Project Runway winner, though he’s grateful for what the experience has done for the growth of his brand thus far. “I love that Project Runway has been a part of my career,” he says. “But the hard work comes after. If you don’t do anything bigger than that, you’re just stuck in that time. I have so many plans and goals. Project Runway will be a chapter in my life that helped me get to the next step.”

Source: W Magazine

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