Once a color "hue" that was reserved as more youthful, inelegant, and somewhat "basic," New York designers have been making a case this week: neon in fact has a fresh, directional edge. From day-glo yellow to highlighter pink, everyone from Alexander Wang to Sies Marjan experimented with these fluorescent tones on the Spring/Summer 2017 runways. Here are the designers successfully pushing for neon’s undisputable resurgence:
For Jason Wu’s femme, shoulder-baring collection, the New York-designer peppered in subtle neon accents that followed hemlines and unexpected stitch patterns. The soft introduction of neon felt boldly playful as Wu fused fluro yellow with barely-there neutrals and highlighter orange with midnight blue. But Wu kept a glow up his sleeve and a surprise hit towards the end of the collection when he opted for a solid execution of limeade – a unique blend of neon yellow and green that looked almost edible – on a sheer netted ankle-grazing dress, which might very well become a street style favorite next season. So much for the un-hip neon look; make way for the brightness!
While glancing at the first few looks of the Alexander Wang show, one could have easily felt like they were peering into the past at a very similar Wang aesthetic that was Spring/Summer 2014. Alas for the naysayers, it wasn’t, but the similarity between the pajama-ready shorts and the soft woven cottons in baby blue sparked a visual memory. And the resolute change of pace set in mid-way through the collection when a two-tone neon bucket bag and lanyard necklace surfaced. From that point on, the statement was made but was not run into the ground. The occasional pop of neon ran through the piping of garments or other accessories but nothing too drastic. In a way, the approach felt similar to Wu, as the audience was soon after struck with a mass of solid neon pieces that felt so un-Wangish. Think cropped neon sweatshirts and soft silky shorts or neon pink and purple cinched dresses, both with trims of black lace.
Only his second season in and the industry is already priming Sies Marjan to be the next great New York label. And you guessed it – part of his conquering arsenal was our resurfacing color "hue." Designer Sander Lak’s unapologetic adoption of striking neon’s brought a blast of newness to the New York City Bar Association showing a collection that simultaneously meshed together downtown chic with uptown elegance. The opening look was electrifying and fluid, offering up a new, wide neckline that allowed for the dress to flow freely. Lak styled some looks with a tonal effect, with elongated sleeve sweaters slightly muted in color when paired with their more vivid bottom garment – in this case, a waterfall skirt with a risqué thigh-high split.
With collections modernly anchored in gender-neutrality, designer Telfar Clemens used his Spring/Summer 2017 show to feature “Old Navy” and “Martha Stewart” colors. The "normcore" approach to his palette choice mirrors Clemens’ anti-establishment mentality and his freedom to move away from the conceptual or the accessible. His traffic-stopping looks felt one part construction worker, one part rugby coach, as he playfully explored horizontal stripe patterns that were interrupted with neon brights.
There is a time and place for everything, or at least so they say. For too long it seems, neon had neither – until now, that is. It only lacked a little skillful appropriation combined with tasteful placement, and it would seem some bright designers have decided to do just that.