New York Fashion Week: Simon Miller, Skingraft loosen up

New York Fashion Week: Simon Miller, Skingraft loosen up
Models walk the runway at the Skingraft fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall-Winter 2015. (Fernanda Calfat / Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week)

Because of a scheduling conflict, we weren't able to take in the Simon Miller fall and winter 2015 men's and women's presentation on Sunday – and, in retrospect, that turned out to be a very good thing. That's because it gave us an opportunity to visit the bi-coastal brand's New York City showroom, where we not only had a chance to see the clothes up close but actually feel them and hold them in our hands. And that's where the efforts co-creative directors Dan Corrigan and Jake Sargent have put into fabric development can best be appreciated.

Grounded in a color palette of stone gray, olive drab and indigo, the second full women's collection (the first season was exclusive to Bergdorf Goodman) includes robed coats and asymmetrical skirts in a napped wool, mock turtleneck tops, suede wide-leg pants and the addition of a new, over-sized wide-leg silhouette to the women's denim mix. There's a patchwork motif throughout the women's pieces, appearing on a variety of tops, skirts and jeans, but executed in large blocks of blue and white that felt more Mid-Century Modern and less vintage hippie flea market.

The men's collection had a distinct military/utility feel to it, thanks to over-size dusters, parkas (with removable linings), heavy-duty denim shirts, indigo-overdyed plaid shirts and a gray sweat suit that may just have set the bar for artisanal athleisure. Sargent described it to us as "felted cotton/wool Japanese loop terry [cloth]" and the only thing we've ever felt that was even remotely like it is the tightly coiled yet super-soft wool of a newborn lamb.

And, even though Sargent and Corrigan didn't ultimately take home the 2014 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund (CVFF) Award (which was won by shoe designer Paul Andrew) being in the group of finalists has apparently continued to benefit the brand in other ways. These include a women's hat collaboration for fall with fellow 2014 finalist, milliner Gigi Burris – a  brimless fez-like silhouette in six fabrications (including felted wool and beaver felt), and the invitation to participate in the CVFF's "Americans in Paris" showcase during Paris Fashion Week, which takes place early next month.

Another brand with L.A. roots, Skingraft, was also noticeably easing back on the silhouette a bit for fall (though there was still no shortage of the line's signature skintight leathers on offer). Taking inspiration from what the show notes described as "young nomads trekking through the Peruvian mountains in search for new horizons," Jonny Cota and company created a men's and women's collection that included lots of woven, poncho-like pieces, drop-crotch trousers, thick cowl neck puffer vests, tapestry-stripe toggle-button coats and shearling lined motorcycle jackets and vests. There was also a simple geometric pattern (triangles and horizontal lines) that appeared on a range of pieces including women's dresses.

Although still rooted in a predominately black and white color palette, the fall collection saw a shade of deep burgundy creep into the mix on a few pieces, another signal that while comfortable in its own skin, like the nomads that inspire it, the brand isn't content to stay in one place.

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