Before Kanye West delivered his spectacle of a show in Madison Square Garden on day one of New York Fashion Week, before the billowing scrim pulled back to reveal a cast of a thousand-plus models in various shades of beige, brown, and ochre, there was…the wait at the concession stand. Yes, a concession stand, hawking souvenir T-shirts and hoodies to attendees—not just editors, retailers, and bloggers but a stadium full of ticket-buyers. It was a moment, within a larger milestone-making moment of Yeezy Season 3, that aptly captured the vibe of the fall 2016 collections.
Buzz about buy-now-wear-now and consumer-facing shows dominated the conversation—more than Yeezy, more than Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma debut. Social media has cut through the show system, both feeding and increasing the end consumer’s hunger for immediacy. Every day, yet another designer announced hot-off-the-runway merch for sale: Rebecca Minkoff, Michael Kors, Proenza Schouler, Lela Rose, and so on. By the end of the New York circuit, industry chatter about the industry only amplified and, with the exception of a handful of shows, hijacked much of the attention from the clothes themselves.
Or did the collections not quite soar as they had in the past? Even the trends didn’t really conquer any new terrain. Athleisure, menswear influences, ’70s, ’90s, slips, boudoir chic—they’ve all been circling around the past few seasons. But the good news for the jewelry set: If you’re looking for inspiration from the runways, there was plenty.
Girls and Pearls
One of the big stories of fall 2016 was the retro nostalgia jumpstarted by Alessandro Michele at Gucci a year ago. Back then, his quirky magpie girl was an outlier in a mostly minimalist-à-la-Céline fashion-scape. Now, more and more designers swung in his decorated direction, with nods to eclectic whimsy, mix-and-match prints, and a daring color palette. It all spoke to the season’s larger move into femininity—lace! ruffles! velvet!—which also veered beautifully dark and moody.
Much of the jewelry on these runways followed suit, pairing romance with romance. Exhibit A: Rodarte’s captivating floral arm cuffs, earrings, and hair accessories with the real thing—fresh mini orchids from Los Angeles florist Joseph Free—mixed in. Exhibit B: heirloom-style designs, like the bejeweled finery (plus tiaras) at Marchesa and dainty pearl and crystal earrings and bracelets (and more tiaras!) at Tommy Hilfiger. Exhibit C: the lovely drop earrings, with pearl and bell details, at Altuzarra, with dense prints and cool gypsy bohemia.
Pearls, in keeping with these feminine overtures, continue to be a strong trend. Other highlights included the stacked pearl-and-gold disc danglers at Ulla Johnson (a collaboration with Sonia Boyajian); the gobstopper pearl earrings, encased in a crystal “cage,” at Kaelen; the wide multistrand choker necklace at Thom Browne. But the real news here was in the more restrained pieces and the way designers used a simple pearl design as a quick hit, and hint, of femininity—like the modest drop earrings at Jason Wu and Brock.
An important trickle-down effect is the trend in metals, particularly silver, gunmetal, brass, and burnished golds. “I think the look is younger, a little less formal,” says Larkspur & Hawk’s Emily Satloff, who’s seen a recent uptick in orders for oxidized finishes versus the more traditional yellow and rose gold.
It’s apparent on the runways as well. Narciso Rodriguez showcased earrings cut from gorgeous slivers of metal by Ana Khouri; Opening Ceremony and Beaufille went futuristic with silver spiral pieces, while Creatures of the Wind opted for delicate industrial geometry. Others toned down the glitz with a touch of the artisanal: Proenza Schouler’s chunky mismatched earrings in tiger’s eye, pyrite, and quartz; Calvin Klein’s dramatic slabs of agate in necklaces (and dresses).
All Choked Up
The major jewelry message centers on silhouettes: one, chokers are back again; and two, when it comes to earrings, go long with single strand and drops. “I am most excited about the return of the choker,” says Amalia Keramitsis, director of fine jewelry and watches at Moda Operandi.
The beauty of these trends? They embrace all the other key themes of the season, from romantic and casual to sleek and crafty: lace chokers (Prabal Gurung), bow chokers (Oscar de la Renta), warrior chokers (Zimmerman), pendant chokers (Calvin Klein), gemstone chokers (Ralph Lauren), punk chokers (Fenty x Puma). It’s something for everyone. Kanye, whose show included an album release plus a tease of his video game, would approve.