Lil Nas X makes his New York Fashion Week debut, walking the runway at the Coach fashion show on September 12
New York CNN  — 

Fashion month returned to New York in a big way, with five-and-a-half-days of in-person runway shows including Gabriela Hearst, Prabal Gurung, LaQuan Smith, Collina Strada and Batsheva, hosted in iconic locations around the city.

Carolina Herrera creative director Wes Gordon showed a collection of lush florals inspired by “The Secret Garden” inside The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, while designer Victor Glemaud presented knits on rollerskating models at Rockefeller Center’s famed rink. Jason Wu’s collection – sheer elegance in beaded gowns and digital prints – showed in a space overlooking the East River at Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport, and Ulla Johnson took over the Beaux Arts Court of the Brooklyn Museum.

Tommy Hilfiger, meanwhile, teamed up with British designer Richard Quinn for a modern take on classic Americana on the Brooklyn waterfront, against the New York skyline. The show, a tribute to another former icon of the city – Andy Warhol’s Factory studio – was an A-List affair, with Kris Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Travis Barker, John Legend, and Kate Moss among those in attendance, with Moss watching her daughter Lila walk the runway. Barker later joined the stage for a drum performance at the end during the models’ final procession.

Gabriela Hearst hosted an airy warehouse show at the Brooklyn Navy Yard with a joyful live performance by the Resistance Revival Chorus, who performed in all white for the entirety of the show along a gold-streaked runway. The collection was inspired by the Ancient Greek poet Sappho, and black, white and gold dominated the presentation, with pops of red and yellow in swirling fire motifs.

The chorus added a sense of “femininity and strength and joy,” Hearst told CNN backstage.

All-star casting

Proenza Schouler set the tone for the week with its show on Friday, showing slouchy but tailored summery looks with fringe, crocheted detailing and sheer fabrics. The musician Arca opened while Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Anok Yai also walked the runway.

On Saturday, Julia Fox, Precious Lee, Winnie Harlow and Hari Nef joined Lila Moss in modeling for the Tommy Hilfiger show; Harlow was among the star-studded model lineup at Sergio Hudson, which also featured Chanel Iman, Veronica Webb and Aoki Lee Simmons, among others. Ella Emhoff walked in Prabal Gurung’s punchy show, while Lil Nas X made his runway debut at Coach – as the brand’s new global brand ambassador – in a black leather vest and jelly sandals.

Another surprise celebrity debut took place at the Naeem Khan show, where Kate Beckinsale closed in a shimmering two-piece metallic ensemble.

At The Plaza Hotel, longtime Carolina Herrera model Karlie Kloss was one of the closers of the show, helmed by creative director Wes Gordon.

New York is back

This New York Fashion Week was a triumphant return for many after February’s shows were dampened by the Covid-19 Omicron variant, with last minute cancellations from mainstays like Tom Ford and many labels’ shifts to digital presentations.

“I feel like we are back – New York is back,” designer LaQuan Smith told CNN Style just after his show at the Intrepid air carrier, where onlookers hyped up the models as they walked the runway in sheer, flowing gowns and bold streetwear with skin-baring cut-outs. “As a native New Yorker I remember sneaking into New York Fashion Week shows that I wasn’t invited to, so it’s an honor for me to just be on the calendar and have buyers, stylists, and influencers coming to see what LaQuan Smith has to say.” Among his attendees were Cassie, LaLa Anthony and Jamaican dancehall queen Spice.

The party atmosphere was palpable during the week as many designers took inspiration from disco glam and 1970s silhouettes for their collections. Ford returned to his closing duties by delivering both the party and the after party during his glitzy Financial District runway show. Walked by both Hadid sisters, the mens- and womenswear showcase featured innumerable sequins on sparkling gowns and suits, high sheen fabrics, embroidered velvet and lace-lined thongs. Notable guests included Madonna, Chris Rock, Erykah Badu, Ciara and Brooklyn and Nicola Peltz Beckham, among other celebrities.

Related: Fashion & the Metaverse: A series of stories about the future of fashion and digital technology

Physical with a touch of digital

Despite a return to primarily in-person shows, the digital influence of the past two-plus years appears here to stay. Both Hilfiger and Gordon teamed up with the video game platform Roblox to give their physical collections a presence in the metaverse, with the Hilfiger show live streamed as part of the world “Tommy Play” and a Herrera dress that Karlie Kloss wore offered as a limited-edition item for players’ avatars.

“I think it’s just the beginning of the metaverse, and I want to be the fashion house to embrace it and carry it forward,” Hilfiger told CNN Style ahead of his show.

Scroll on to see all the highlights from New York Fashion Week.

At Proenza Schouler, models including Bella Hadid were styled with dewy skin and slicked-back hair.
Eckhaus Latta's show was staged in El Jardin del Paraiso, a community garden in the East Village -- to the lilting tunes of a live harpist. Prints in the collection were from the archive of the deceased artist Matthew Underwood, a friend of the label's co-designer Zoe Latta.
Italian luxury label Marni made a rare appearance in New York, sending models down the runway in delicate knits, woven textiles and flowing silhouettes. Madonna was front row for the show.
Gowns at Jason Wu showcased sharp tailoring and delicate draping, in a collection that was both polished and effortlessly understated.
Models walk in the closing procession at Prabal Gurung's Spring-Summer 2023 show at the United Nations Plaza.
Designer Naeem Khan with actress Kate Beckinsale, who made her runway debut at the show.
Christian Siriano brought back Old Hollywood glamour at the Elizabeth Collective in Midtown.
Ulla Johnson offered up a mix of materials, styles and textures in her collection, ranging from prints inspired by artists Lee Krasner and Louise Bourgeois as well as the natural world, to vibrant monochromatic ensembles with a 1970s feel.
Johnson transformed the neoclassical interior of the Beaux Arts Court at the Brooklyn Museum into a space "reclaimed by nature" with the help of florist Emily Thompson, who created floral sculptures meant to mimic patterns of lichen. The designer also partnered with Ocean Bottle to save 300 bottles per guest -- 100,000 in total -- from reaching the ocean.
Julia Fox was part of the star-studded event on and off the runway at "Tommy Factory," Hilfiger's reinterpretation of Andy Warhol's famed Factory studio in New York.
Bold prints and silhouettes joined more classic Hilfiger motifs. "I think it's really exciting -- we've taken the best of both of our heritages. It's Americana and prep styles, but we put them through our filter," Richard Quinn said to CNN about the collaboration.
Winnie Harlow at "Tommy Factory," which took place at a waterfront drive-in movie theater in Brooklyn.
Whimsical, feminine florals were on display at the Carolina Herrera show helmed by creative director Wes Gordon. It was a return to the Plaza Hotel for the label, which showed there in 1984. Herrera herself was front row, and embraced Gordon after the show.
"I definitely become more and more comfortable each season," Gordon told CNN. "I have developed great friendships with our clients and the women who wear Herrera and that I think has made me a better designer for them."
LaQuan Smith's Spring-Summer 2023 collection centered "female empowerment," the designer told CNN, with confident, energetic looks from sheer dresses to metallic bustiers.
Cut-outs, gauzy fabrics and sharp, low-cut waistlines were body-conscious -- and body-positive.
I just wanted to ignite people with the clothing," Quan told CNN of his collection, "and make women feel powerful, strong and sexy at the same time."
At the Puppets & Puppets show, there were playful details on accessories, with bags adorned with cookies and bananas.
And the occasional face mask, too.
Coach took over the Park Avenue Armory with a conceptual show that saw models act out dreamlike vignettes on stage before coming down the runway.
Lil Nas X made his runway debut for Coach. The collection featured a mix of streetwear and collegiate styles, from wide-shouldered, oversized jackets and high-tops to lettered sweaters and mini skirts. Jelly sandals also got their time to shine once again two decades later.
Gold was a focus of Gabriela Hearst's Sappho-inspired collection, in fabrics, accents and detailing. True to her sustainability efforts, Hearst said: "All of our materials are soundly investigated... there's not one material in this collection that I didn't approve or know the composition of."
Model Quannah Chasinghorse wrote in an essay for CNN Style last year that she works with Hearst because it's important for her to align "with designers and brands who also uphold the same values around climate justice and sustainability."
Hearst used swirling fire motifs in two ways: embroidery on linen and hand-crocheted detailing on knitwear dresses. She became deeply fixated on the visual and conceptual touchpoints that drove the idea for the collection, she explained to CNN.
Hearst also reduced the runway show's ecological footprint by working with the company Climeworks to capture an equal amount of carbon from the air, not just offset it.
The Parsons MFA student show was hosted at Spring Studio and included deconstructed looks by designer WeinRan.
The show always features a wealth of creativity from emerging talent in the industry. Meng Ling Chung showed highly textured ensembles with 1970s silhouettes.
Ella Emhoff opened Maisie Wilen's East Village show, which leaned into cyber aesthetics and took visual cues from CGI and filmmaking techniques, such as motion-capture markers which appeared on the garments as well as on the models' skin.
Tory Burch played with classic styles and offered new takes on her brand's well-honed aesthetic with a touch of sex appeal. The runway looks featured "luxurious fabrics designed to move with the body -- superfine knits, techno satin, weightless jerseys," according to the show notes.
Emily Ratajkowski was among the models walking for Burch in designs that played with sheer fabrics and layering.
K-Pop star Jeno of group NCT opened Peter Do's runway show, which featured highly polished, romantic mens' and womens' suiting, including mens' styles with eye-catching, layered back cut-outs.
Edvin Thompson hosted a downtown runway show for Theophilio that was a melting pot of influences from the places he calls home.
The streetwear-to-evening looks featured denim, snakeskin, leather, mesh, and lace.
MIchael Kors kept it classic and polished in a palette of neutrals, black, white and red.
Batsheva took over Ben's Kosher Deli in Manhattan, serving up dresses in shimmering pinks, purples and peaches.
Though her signature prarie silhouettes were peppered into the collection, designer Batsheva Hay focused on youthful looks with peplum, high-low hems, bows, ruffled blouses and schoolgirl collars.
Warm metallics dominated The Blonds' glam-heavy ode to the 1970s, which was filled with fringed gowns, catsuits, plunging necklines and bellbottoms.
Vivienne Tam drew inspiration from NFT art, with some of its most famous and widely collected iconography sewn or embroidered onto the garments.
Cryptopunks, Bored Apes and Awkward Astronauts all made appearances in her collection, shown at Spring Studios.
Tom Ford turned a former trading floor in the Financial Distract into a throwback to Studio 54, with sequined party looks and suiting as well as evening gowns.
All of the looks -- even the all-black ones -- were meant to catch the light, with glossy sheens against the brightly lit, mirrored runway show.
Gigi Hadid joined her sister Bella on the runway in enormous earrings and teased hair.

A previous version stated that Lola Leon walked the Tommy Hilfger show. This article was updated to reflect that Leon did not appear on the runway.