Fashion Week Spring 2012's New Designers

Fashion Week is fast approaching (it starts in September). We have had mini anxiety attacks every time an invite lands in our inboxes. And to tell the truth, we love this time of year, if only for one reason: the clothes! Seeing new collections is downright thrilling, and seeing new collections from new designers is even more so.

This season, there are newbies being thrown into the mix. They’re not all brand spanking new—some have worked right along with household names and even styled some pop stars. But these designers are new to showing at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week or, for some, this is their first season showing at all. So let’s welcome to the freshman class, and pay special attention: Today’s bright spots are tomorrow’s stars.

Photos: courtesy of Emerson | Paul Maffi
1. Emerson

Designed by Bostonian Jackie Fraser-Swan, Emerson is inspired by—you guessed it—Ralph Waldo. But this isn’t all about nature and florals, not by a long shot. Fraser-Swan also cites Tim Burton, Joan Jett, and Chanel as perma-residents on her mood board. And her collection—filled with structured, edgy yet still somehow casual pieces made for the modern woman who doesn’t shy away from attention—reflects that. So how does the Boston fashion scene differ from NYC? “I would say that it’s more laid back. Women like to look great, but still be comfortable,” says the designer.  “NYC women seem to be more open to taking a risk when it comes to fashion.”

norman ambrose
Photos courtesy of Norman Ambrose
2. Norman Ambrose

Every season editors look for the new X. Who is the new Marc? The new Michael? The new Oscar? Not that we want to replace them—far from it. But they are our benchmarks. So who exactly is the new Oscar? Glad you asked. Meet Norman Ambrose. We’ve introduced you to him before, but this time he’s doing a proper Fashion Week runway show. His clothes are pure luxury: silks, furs, brocades. What would you expect from a designer who names Bill Blass and Valentino as his inspirations? So what is in store for us for spring? “The incredible lives of Slim Keith, Doris Duke, Mona von Bismarck in Capri, and Elizabeth Taylor in the South of France were very influential [to me]," Ambrose said via email. “Ladies who brought strong distinctive style and glamour to areas of the world that, at that time, were remote. They never compromised their style and I like to think my Spring/Summer line reflects that.”

Photos courtesy of Degen
3. Degen

Lingerie is forever being worn as outerwear. Hello, Madonna's cone bra and Gaga's … everything. But with the sheer and layering trends seemingly here to stay, the idea of knit undergarments meant as RTW isn’t so farfetched. Degen, designed by Lindsay Degen, is a line of linen and cotton pieces that focus on the human body. Degen’s work is familiar to you—she’s done collaborations with VPL, and finally took the plunge to launch her own line and show at this upcoming Fashion Week. Believe it or not, the economic downturn made her dive into her own line. “All of the depressing money talk made me feel like I had nothing to lose.” Spring, she says “is about starting small and focused. It’s for a not-super-feminine, kind of quirky, and loves-textures type of girl. Everything is hand-knitted by me, and I am a bit of a materials snob. Which means the softest materials ever.” We can’t wait to see what she cooks up.

anndra neen
Photos courtesy of Anndra Neen
4. Anndra Neen

Ready-to-wear isn’t king—or shall we say, queen—this Fashion Week. Jewelry is holding its own come September. And you know how we love accessories. Stand alone presentations for shiny, pretty things will keep us plenty busy, and one duo we can’t wait to see is Anndra Neen. The sister-designers, Pheobe and Annette Stephens, launched the line in 2009, after a trip to Japan. Their aesthetic isn’t entirely modern however. They’re very much inspired by their grandmother, painter and designer Annette Nancarrow. “She made one of a kind, big statement pieces and would wear them out,” they said, together, via email. “Her pieces always drew attention in that they were daring and bold, as was she. We are inspired by her design elements as well as her attitude towards life. We design for that kind of a woman.” Oh, and the name? It’s a combination of the girls’ middle names, Alejandra and Annette.

silvio liu
Photo courtesy of Silvio Liu
5. Silvio Liu

There’s nothing we like hearing more than a New York-based label is using a New York-based factory to produce its garments. The Garment District is dying and buying local applies to production as well as to clothes these days. Silvio Liu does just that with its own factory. The line itself has been in transition, and now has a new designer heading up the brand: Vaughan Alexander. The Aussie designer (who shies away from the spotlight—no photos, darling!) has worked with Japanese pop stars—that’s right, he’s huge in Japan—like Pizzicato Five, Yuki, and more. His outré sensibility is now meeting the sophisticated palette and fabrication of Silvio Liu. The result? Clothes really chic women would wear. “The Liu lady walks with a spring in her step, and a smile on her lips,” Alexander said. True enough.