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NYFW Review: A Pleasant Escape From Today's Dire World

Spilling the highlights from New York Fashion Week's Spring/Summer 2021 collections

(@rodarte, @jasonwu, @arcluostudio / Instagram)


COVID-19 may have canceled nearly everything else this year, but even in the wake of a global pandemic, fashion never dies. 

Though the runways looked a little different this year, New York Fashion Week still upheld its tradition of introducing the world to what’s new in the fashion world and what style choices every fashion enthusiast should be making to stay ahead of the crowd. 

From September 11 to September 16th, runways premiered via a mix of virtual live-streamed shows and physical shows with a limited number of attendants. Luxury fashion labels like Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent even partnered with TikTok to livestream their runway shows from fashion weeks around the world. 

Although many had to watch on their screens, the fashion showcased at New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2021 left a big impact, even if it was a virtual one. Here are some of the highlights.

1) Cottagecore Couture

While it’s no secret that the “cottagecore” aesthetic has been dominating social media, fashion labels Batsheva, Rodarte, and Veronica Beard’s Spring/Summer 2021 lookbooks gave the niche aesthetic a high fashion makeover. Mixing dainty floral and gingham prints, utilizing pastels, and often incorporating flowers, puffed sleeves, lace, or ruffles into their designs, the collections made me want to drop everything and move to a small farm in the French countryside.

(@rodarte, @veronicabeard, @batshevadress / Instagram)


2) French Paradise

Even though traveling has been put on hold by COVID-19, Jason Wu still wants us to dress like we’re vacationing in a tropical paradise. His runway set up featured lush palm trees planted behind wooden beach chairs nestled in the sands for the few audience members in attendance.

The collection showcased loose, relaxed silhouettes that were just asking to be tousled by some seabreeze. Non-binary and transgender actor and model Indya Moore who plays Angel Evangelista on the hit LGBTQ+ TV show Pose walked in the show, speaking to the fashion industry’s progression towards inclusivity and acceptance. 

(@jasonwu / Instagram)


3) Mask On

With over 6.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. since the pandemic began, wearing a mask and protecting others is still as important as ever. Runways for Collina Strada, Luci B. Designs, and Rebecca Minkoff showcased unique mask designs and proved that being safe and fashionable aren’t mutually exclusive.

( @rebeccaminkoff, @collinastrada, @lucibdesigns / Instagram)


4) Fashion is nonbinary

With Gen Z being one of the most openly queer generations to date, fashion has been moving increasingly towards ignoring gender stereotypes and gender roles. Runway shows for Arc Luo and The Tailory blurred the lines between male and female, showcasing traditionally feminine color palettes and details like puffed sleeves and ruffles on men, while dressing female models in angular, monochrome suits.

(@arcluostudio / Instagram)


(@thetailornyc / Instagram)


5) Streetwear and Redefining Beauty

In the past, the fashion world has been notorious for promoting one idea of ideal beauty: skinny and white. However, I am happy to see that high fashion is beginning to move away from the notion that there is only one type of beauty. 

This was the concept behind fashion label Private Policy’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection “Searching for Aphrodite.” Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty, has historically been considered the embodiment of “ultimate beauty,” but Private Policy’s collection aims to show that we all are Aphrodite —we’re all “the ultimate beauty” in our own way. With its monochromatic streetwear looks, Private Policy’s collection intends to encourage its wearers to embrace our individuality and appreciate diversity. 

And there you have it, the, in my humble fashion opinion, highlights of New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2021. In a time where we are facing a global pandemic and political unrest, this year’s runway shows offered a much-needed escape from the very dire social and political landscape of the world. After all, in the words of renowned fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” 


Taesha Jones is an Editorial Print and Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. She enjoys hanging out with her cat, reading fiction novels, applying lipgloss, and memorizing female rap verses. Her passions include combatting racial injustice, raising cultural awareness, and promoting a more diversified society. Dm her on Instagram @taeeesha or email her at


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