The saying goes that behind every great man is a great woman. If this logic stands, then after every good menswear show should be an even better womenswear show. Philly Fashion Week 2016 was no exception to the rule, showing two consecutive days of women’s ready-to-wear and couture after the somewhat brief menswear stint. This city of Philadelphia has always had the penchant for glamorous, over-the-top dressing, but this year its womenswear designers stretched the limits of silhouette and embellishment. Here’s my round up of the top womenswear collections of the season (and also my video recap of all the shows during Philly Fashion Week 2016).
Were there ever to be a Philadelphia version of Helmut Lang, designer Bishme Cromartie would fit the bill. Cromartie's garments are artfully sensuous without showing very much skin, achieving a sexy silhouette with skillful draping and strategically placed slits. The designer knows how to flatter the female form - her tapered trousers and high-cut dresses will give any girl mile-high legs.
These Pink Lips
Philadelphia native Iris Barbee Bonner is not one to color within the lines. With her proclivity for high octane colors and patterns, Bonner's collection celebrated female sexuality and empowerment in a vibrant manner. Bonner's designs, featuring blatantly gender nonconformist and sexually explicit quotes from "Pussy Not War" to "Not Your Bitch," will no doubt resonate with young feminists who are not afraid to wear their opinions on their backs.
Closet By Christobal
Closet By Christobal easily had the most extravagant collection out of all the designers. Aside from its heavy use of high-shine fabrics, the collection took textural experimentation to a new level with its oversized accessories in leather and fur. The designer obviously got the memo about lurex being in trend this season, as the textile was featured abundantly throughout his design in the form of full-length trousers and even entire jumpsuits, making for an extremely glittery runway. Epileptics be warned.
This season, New Jersey-based designer Briana Eliza Busam made a concerted effort to revamp a woman's most important wardrobe staple - her little black dress. Within her all-black collection (save for a couple anomalies in silver), Busam tried to create light from the darkest shade of the spectrum, experimenting with sequins, feathers and diamante embellishments to bring a little sparkle to the runway. Perhaps this is just my monochromatic bias talking, but I think this collection demonstrates that one shade can indeed make a diverse wardrobe.
Pragmatism was clearly not on the mind of designer Latasha Hall when she dreamed up her surreal bridal creations this season. Questions such as "How will the bride kiss the groom while balancing a gigantic ball of roses on her head?" may have run through my mind while I was viewing the collection, but such thoughts were quickly dismissed by the sheer intricacy and scale of Hall's designs. Hall has incorporated elements of mythology and nature into her collection, mixing dramatic and taffeta lace gowns with larger-than-life ornamental headpieces that reference flora and fauna. For all the Maison Margiela-loving fashion mavericks who dress out of the box, this is a collection fit for you to be married in.
Photos by Emily Cheng