Unexpected Favorites from New York Fashion Week

New York Fashion Week has come and gone, and in its wake, people are talking about what collections were hits and what missed the mark.  When Fashion Week started, I already had an idea of what designers would have my favorite collections, but surprisingly, most of my choices are different than what I anticipated.  I guessed Rodarte would be one of my favorites, but the other four I didn’t see coming.  One of the best parts of Fashion Week is getting to see so much talent in the established brands’ and the up-and-comers’ collections, and I’m so happy I ended up picking designers, who to me, were unexpected.  So, here's my list of five designers who blew me away this season and their collections that hopefully will be gracing the pages of fashion magazines and red carpets come August.

1.  Rodarte
One of the things you have to admire about the Mulleavy sisters is the power they have to keep surprising people.  Last season, Rodarte's collection was inspired by Vincent van Gogh, and the sisters used obvious references to his work by creating dresses that mimicked his paintings.  These “Starry Night” dresses were beautiful, but not exactly practical pieces.  However, this season was a more real world, consumer-driven Rodarte.  The collection was wearable, but it wasn't boring.  Looks like the orange ruffle layered dress and the tan whispy handprint dress were gorgeous and a breath of fresh air.  This season felt more grown up than usual.  The sisters seem to be designing somewhere in between commercial and avant garde, and I can’t wait to see what they think of next.
NY Magazine's review of the Rodarte line.
2.  Suno
I can pinpoint the moment I fell in love with Suno to when I was looking through its spring 2012 collection last year and saw a white and black polka dot dress.  Now, I’m the type of person who goes through every collection during fashion week, so the fact that this dress stuck out to me was surprising.  It was so simple and fun, and after seeing it, I really hoped when Fashion Week came around again, these designers wouldn’t let me down.  Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty are the brains behind this fantastic label, and this season was even better than the one before.  In a time where everyone is mixing prints, Suno is doing it well and reminding people that fashion should be both pretty and amusing.  My favorite look was a black and white dress with cutouts and silhouettes of trees on it, but the collection was so strong that there were many other fun and wearable looks to pick.  I really hope Suno continues to wow, because I feel like it is well on its way to becoming a prominent brand.
Suno's website
3.  Rachel Zoe
This choice might surprise you, and I wouldn’t be lying if it I said it didn’t surprise me too.  I’m a huge fan of Rachel Zoe and a religious viewer of her TV show on Bravo, but when she first started getting into fashion design I was skeptical.  She’s a great stylist, but I asked myself, could she really design clothes?  I think her collection this year answered with a resounding YES.  Zoe designs what she loves, and at first, I found it hard to look at her pieces without saying to myself, “Oh, that’s so Rachel.”  However, she did what she does best this season with fur coats, sequin dresses and tailored suits, but I feel like when you look at the collection you see Zoe’s taste, but you don’t see her wearing every look.  I think if she continues to evolve as a designer, her collections will only get better from here on out.
Rachel Zoe's Collection
4.  Christian Cota
Before Fashion Week started, I didn’t know Christian Cota’s name.  However, as I was clicking through collections, I landed on his and was instantly impressed.  Inspired by his heritage, Cota’s collection was distinctly influenced by the bright colors of Mexican culture.  I loved the deep reds and bold blues he used, and according to style.com, Cota even brightened up the fabric by going over the threads with paints.  Cota embraced fall’s fur trend, mixed patterns and created dresses that were unique and fresh compared to the typical black we see during fall runway shows.  Some of my favorite looks were the finale yellow dress and the one-shouldered red dress that had flowers going down the side.  The collection had some out there pieces, but the beauty of the ones that were wearable definitely came through, and I think we can expect promising things from this designer.
Christian Cota's website
5.  Band of Outsiders
Every season I get more and more impressed with Band of Outsiders.  Scott Sternberg’s mix of hard and soft looks is to die for.  The collection had an amazing progression starting with looks that would be at home in any prairie Midwestern town to looks that would be stunning on the streets of New York City.  Sternberg started with long flowy skirts and floral prints and ended with edgy black bandage dresses that were feminine but tough.  There wasn’t a dull moment in Sternberg’s show, and he took a different spin to some of the trends we’ve seen on the runways this season.  His looks had the dark floral prints and the fur, but they were wearable and had a distinct point of view that separated his work from the rest.
Band of Outsiders website