NYFW Day 3: AREA's Show Girls, Altuzarra's Sea Creatures and More

NYFW Day 3: AREA's Show Girls, Altuzarra's Sea Creatures and More

AREA hasn't showed on the runway in two years, but honestly, thank god for that. The brand's intricate use of padded crystals, jewelry and sculpted beads deserves to be closely inspected, and seeing their latest collection presented up-close on silver mannequins was just as transformative as any splashy fashion show.

Ever since they pivoted to something that resembles more of a see-now-buy-now format and started experimenting with couture techniques, the brand has hit a sweet spot with stunning editorial showpieces while offering more accessible pieces that riff off of their signature crystal handwork.

Courtesy of AREA

Collection 02 (technically Spring 2022, but they now label their seasons numerically) was an ode to showgirls in all its forms — think iconic figures like Zizi Jeanmarie and Josephine Baker — as well as institutions like Carnival in Brazil. Feathers were employed in the literal sense (affixed as soft trims on dresses) but also rendered as gilded armor and body harnesses in the shape of giant plumes.

The finale dress — a variation of the stunning 88-pound AREA gown Simone Biles wore to last year's Met Gala — exemplified the designers' couture inclinations the best, which they called "an elaborate labor of love crafted between New York, Italy and India."

Ulla Johnson, Khaite and Altuzarra (Courtesy)

Ulla Johnson and Khaite's shows could not be more different from each other (except for the use of mechanical robotics and drones that moved across the set), and yet, they're some of New York's most prominent independent labels founded by women, each with a loyal base of women drawn to their feminine point of view: Ulla Johnson's puff-sleeve tops and tiered dresses are as synonymous with the brand as Khaite's sexy use of leather, tailoring and clingy dresses.

Joseph Altuzarra's woman hasn't changed much since launching the brand 13 years ago. She's still assured, sensual and layered. But what has evolved considerably is the designer's own ideas of femininity, particularly as it relates to gender expression (as demonstrated by his "genderful" ALTU line launched a few weeks ago).

Still, for his main line, Altuzarra hasn't veered away from creating a world unto itself each season: for Fall, that vision revolved around sea creatures and mythical underwater elements (the Woolworth Building, where the show was held, featured motifs of fish scales, sea creatures, and small sailboats on the ceiling).

On a runway, that manifested with each look that came down the runway, gradually evolving from oversize knits with maritime details to embellished gowns with giant paillettes that nodded to scales of mermaids. "I wanted the collection to not only evoke the intrepid and adventurous spirit of sailors and world travelers, but also the mystery and darkness of the ocean’s depths," he said. The Moby Dick book placed on each seat of the runway further brought the point home.