From brands that have made recent headlines to names you need to know, these up-and-comers are leaving a major mark on the industry with their fresh creative visions.
by Ali Webb
Starting with cruise presentations earlier this year and manifesting in full throughout this month, fashion has officially moved into a new decade. The 2010s’ imminent transition into the past provides the perfect opportunity to pioneer new creative visions, and the industry’s brightest rising stars are delivering to this end with nuanced approaches to design, brand structure, and contemporary culture. Some, like Tomo Koizumi and Christopher John Rogers, have become the talk of the town in New York this week thanks to maximalist creations that redefine sartorial beauty with their colors and unconventional structure, while other labels, like Patou and Coperni, are experiencing rebirths tailor-made for the current age and are sure to capture significant attention after their presentations later this month. The future has never been brighter—both figuratively and literally.
Below, a list of eight of the best up-and-comers, all of whom have potential to define fashion in coming seasons as they create, reinvent, and innovate. Learn about the aesthetic philosophy and showstopping qualities of each, and get excited about all the inspiring new voices as the industry heads into the rest of fashion month.
Spring 2020 marks only the second New York Fashion Week season for Tomo Koizumi, but he has already become a highly coveted ticket. Fashion insiders know the story well: Katie Grand contacted the Japanese designer after seeing Giles Deacon repost a couple of his polyester organza creations on Instagram, which led to a star-studded show at Marc Jacobs’ Madison Avenue flagship that broke the internet with only four weeks of planning. The debut stood out so much that it made the Met’s “Camp: Notes on Fashion” exhibit, and though Koizumi took an entirely different approach to presenting his work this season, it was just as mesmerizing. A single model, Ariel Nicholson, took the floor for an hour-long performance as she switched between several of the Tokyo-based talent’s 40-pound creations, truly reminding the industry—and the world—the magic that happens when designers show off maximal creativity.
Emily Adams Bode is changing the world of men’s fashion with her modern workwear and sentimental approach. The first female designer to ever present at New York Fashion Week Men’s, she started her brand by crafting garments out of antique textiles and her narrative, tailored designs eventually earned her the 2019 CFDA Award for Emerging Designer of the Year. Earlier this summer, Bode held her first runway show in Paris, and it seems her use of female-centric traditions to create boundary-pushing pieces for men is here to stay.
Catherine Holstein is creating an undeniably modern vision through her designs, which mediate between opposing qualities (masculinity and femininity, structure and fluidity, etc) and employ tailoring that is artful and unique but feels right at home in the everyday. Over the past few years of building Khaite, the designer has gotten her work onto high-profile figures like Michelle Obama, Emily Blunt, and, most recently, Katie Holmes. It seems her brand is tailor-made for the woman who dresses for herself, perhaps helping to fill the void that opened up when Phoebe Philo left Celine. A 2019 CFDA nominee, Holstein seems ready to go even further in the impending new decade thanks to an innovative Spring 2020 show full of sheer tulle, decisive yet soft shapes, and sparkling headpieces that felt at once nostalgic and straight out of the future.
Christopher John Rogers
This season may be Christopher John Rogers’ runway debut, but the up-and-comer has already captured major industry acclaim with his designs, which demand the viewer’s undivided attention and paint a celebratory aesthetic with their color and volume. His penchant for oversized church hats beautifully marries Instagram culture with his Louisiana roots (and gives Jacquemus fans the perfect look for a Sunday brunch or high-society wedding), but the real stars of the show are the over-the-top gowns and tailoring. With vibrant hues that would stand out from a mile away and an unapologetically fun and formal approach, it’s no wonder Rogers is a finalist for the 2019 CFDA Fashion Fund.
Tommy Ton is most famous for being a pioneering photographer of street style blogging’s golden age, so he obviously has a clear eye for what makes a fashion-forward yet wearable modern uniform. Thus, it’s no wonder that ever since the brand appointed him as creative director in February 2018, it’s been on a smooth rise with staples that are anything but basic. Focusing on everyday pieces with that sort of subtle spark that might get a photographer raising their camera, Ton presents his work on a diverse group on and off the runway, which contributes to a more inclusive vision of what a modern day street style star should be. Deveaux seems truly ready for anything, from capturing attention at fashion events to power dressing for the office.
If you’ve heard talks about the future of, well, any industry in an age of 24/7 culture, short attention spans, and oversaturation, chances are someone has mentioned the power of niche. This is exactly what Chloé Harrouche is doing with LouLou Studio, going from the blogger behind LouLou de Saison to an entrepreneur by focusing on “the perfect basic knit with a twist.” The result is a collection of cozy sweaters that will seamlessly become fall wardrobe staples, and the creative cuts provide an artful touch that will set you apart from all the other people posting photos of their chilly-weather looks. The high-quality pieces have both comfort and elegance, all with the goal of evoking a reassuring feeling that empowers a woman to go about her day with ease. While Harrouche does not currently do shows or presentations, her emerging label is still gaining attention with its French girl aesthetic, having earned a place in Bergorf Goodman’s new BG Radar initiative, which highlights a curated selection of young designers. Now is probably the time to jump on these designs before they blow up all over Instagram.
Anyone who knows their fashion history will remember Jean Patou. A true force of early 20th-century fashion, the French designer revolutionized women’s sportswear in an effort that rivaled Coco Chanel. After going away for a bit with a star-studded history of creative directors including Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Christian Lacroix, Patou is back under Guillaume Henry, who is still emerging as a name but modernized Carven so much during his ten years there that LVMH Fashion’s CEO Sidney Toledano hand-picked him for the new role. The first images of the revival came out in June, revealing a vision that mediates between artsy luxury and a daily uniform, and all eyes will be on Paris later this month when Henry fully revives the brand with a debut presentation.
Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant first made waves with Coperni in 2013, and their combined design and business backgrounds led to an innovative yet timeless label that did so well it won the 2014 ANDAM award and was up for the next year’s LVMH Prize. Ultimately, they withdrew from the conglomerate’s competition after taking the helm at Courrèges and put their own label on hold in 2017, but Coperni came back last season with an Instagram experience. Through @copernize_your_life, the duo created a Choose Your Own Adventure series in which players can click through unique handles and learn about the French label from the likes of Teddy Quinlivan and Carlotta Kohl. They join the Paris presentation schedule this season, and their digital-first approach has an innovative quality that aptly tributes the brand’s namesake, astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.