Big Impressions

New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016

The Big Apple’s nine days of runway shows rocketed past in a whirlwind. But among the madness were some standout fashion moments, thanks, in part, to six members of the Swarovski Collective. Their partnerships with Swarovski showed precisely how crystals optimize cut and fabric texture in the hands of masters.

Rosie Assoulin
Assoulin has carved out a unique role for herself on the NYFW landscape with fresh and exuberant designs offering an uplifting perspective on color and structure. For her Fall/Winter 2016 collection, Assoulin looked to the artist Polly Apfelbaum for inspiration, and used Swarovski crystals to “add a playfulness.” This translated into flowing white gowns, trousers and wide-cuffed shirts punctuated with ordered lines of multi-colored crystals, lending a neat geometric feel to the garments’ striking shapes. “Fall can seem dark and heavy,” said Assoulin. “The crystals bring a different element to the collection that makes it feel light-hearted.”


Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin are a New York-based duo gaining serious international traction. This winter, they presented a sharp collection in a strong monochrome palette complemented with dusky khaki green. The pieces were an interesting play on men’s tailoring and shirting, and the delicacy of lace and full skirts. Taking their cue from the video and installation artist Mona Hatoum and conceptual artist Barbara Kruger, they inset Swarovski crystals in geometric patterns and combined different textures into sharp formations across net lace sleeves worn under oversized shirting. A key motif was the protective evil eye rendered in dazzling Swarovski crystals. 

Tim Coppens 
Anyone who spent their childhood playing video games like Tetris will be charmed by designer Tim Coppens latest work. In mixing references as diverse as Japanese streetwear and traditional Western motifs with rock stars Axel Rose and Jimi Hendrix, he has come up with striking embellishment that evokes that early console era. The mash-up collection was a cool mix of streetwear—hooded jumpers, bomber jackets and sportif striped polo tops—elevated with Swarovski crystal patches and pearls. “Adding Swarovski is a great way of adding dimension to my pieces,” says Coppens. “The beading creates a 3D effect and reflects light in new and interesting ways that you cannot achieve with traditional fabrics.” 

Creatures of the Wind 
The trend for mid-century modern design has well and truly hit the fashion world: this duo offered one of the most comprehensive and charming takes on ideas borrowed from that era. Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters used specific references from mid-century muses such as Charles and Ray Eames, Carl Auböck and Ikko Tanaka, working with Swarovski crystals to create amazing patterns: A square-cut shift dress was enlivened with multi-block crystal straps, and a gray silk skirt featured swirling geometric shapes, with the same pattern repeated on the arms of a structured black cocktail dress. “Swarovski is an integral part of this story,” explained the designers. “It’s always important to us to re-contextualize elements, and to ask the viewer to reimagine something they may think they know. Using Swarovski in our own way helps us to do this.” 

Tanya Taylor 
For Fall/Winter 2016,Taylor’s girl takes her fashion references from the outdoor world, drawing on the interplay of lush botanicals and deconstructed geometric shapes. The collection took its form from symmetry and clean, ordered lines. Neatly cut baby-doll dresses with sheer paneling were enhanced with sweet, 3D-embroidered leaves and floral bouquets; the same technique was appliquéd onto pencil skirts spliced open at the front, and cascading across the shoulders of bomber jackets. The colorful embellishment in bright blues, oranges, pink and whites gave a lively counterpoint to a collection mainly rendered in black. 

Dion Lee
Australian designer Dion Lee entitled his Fall/Winter collection ‘Apature’, describing it as an experimentation in negative space, and referencing the work of artist Otto Piene. This translated into minimally shaped, gently cut pieces in black and khaki, elevated with Swarovski hotfix crystals on structured pleats of asymmetric, hemmed, silk georgette dresses and skirts in pleasingly calm, straight lines. The designer explained his work by saying that “an important part of interpreting the creative concept of the collection allowed us to experiment with light, shadow play and weightlessness. The crystals appeared to be suspended, almost floating, in punctures throughout the collection. In other garments they were heat-welded, creating a luminous contrast to the sheer panels in between.”


Photography Dan Lecca