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NYFW Trends: Bubble Hems, Flutter Sleeves and Neon for Night

A week chock-full of in-person presentations, runway shows, activations and after parties signaled the return of the New York Fashion Week (NYFW) the industry has come to know over the years. Dance-filled displays, live music and celebrity-packed front rows energized the shows compared to the past two seasons’ digital and hybrid formats.

The same can be said of the collections.

While Fall/Winter 21-22 themes like crochet, relaxed suiting and cutouts prevailed, it’s no secret that fashion designers are pining for occasion wear to reignite the consumer consciousness. This was evident in the new shapes, hemlines and bold uses of color throughout Spring/Summer 2022.

From party wear to tailored pieces packed with personality, here’s a snapshot of NYFW’s must-know trends and themes.

Bubble hems

One part 1950s glamour and one part 1980s excess, the Spring/Summer 2022 return of the bubble hem adds a voluminous silhouette that hasn’t been seen in fashion for some time. While Christian Siriano took it to an extreme with citrus-hued gowns, Zero + Maria Cornejo introduced the hem to just the top half. Adam Lippes offered a minimalist take with a strapless black satin frock. Carolina Herrera took it a step further with a black high-low silhouette. Prabal Gurung and Duncan, however, presented the shape in what is likely its most wearable form—as mini party dresses and skirts.

Neon for night

Remember when designer leaned on neon as the go-to way to inject streetwear vibes into their collections?  Neon colors mean much more nowadays. With heavyweights like Valentino and Giambattista Valli normalizing highlighter hues for the red carpet, designers have been given the green light to inject their grandest styles with citron green, shocking pink and electric orange. Naeem Kahn, Head of State and Christian Siriano presented neon green ball gowns. Neon pink added a youthful flair to Proenza Schouler’s modest dresses. And construction-cone orange suiting emerged as a micro trend. Coordinating bra tops by Boss and Christian Siriano made a strong case for three-piece citrus-hued sets. Rodarte chose a highlighter blue shade for a spaghetti-strap, ankle-length dress.

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Feathers have staying power. The maximalist flourish continued to trim the hemlines of Christian Cowan’s risqué suiting and added drama to sleeves a la LaQuan Smith, Moschino and Pat Bo. It also served “starring role” energy in collections from Naeem Kahn and Pamella Roland, which presented all-over feather looks in vibrant shades of red and purple.

Flutter sleeves

Might the flutter sleeve be the new puff sleeve? A relaxed alternative to the cottagecore signature, flutter sleeves and roomy bell shapes that start at the shoulder made their way into designer collections. Fine pleats added volume to Gabriela Hearst’s elbow-skimming sleeves. Flowy sleeves enhanced the lines of Tadashi Shoji’s lace top, while a pearl pin embellished the top of Lela Rose’s wide-sleeve tops.

Trench transformation

Though trench coats are a mainstay in any spring collection, designers collectively agreed the staple was due for facelift. The addition of ruffles by Carolina Herrera and 3.1 Phillip Lim turned the coats into statement pieces, while Rosetta Getty’s play with pleats amped up the silhouette. Monse’s trench was business in the front and handcrafted crochet in the back. Teddy Vonranson kept it simple by livening up the lapel with a monochromatic floral brooch. Michael Kors’ soft pink trench was a vision of business-casual cool paired with a matching blazer and long shorts. And Peter Do, who staged his first NYFW show, vouched for trench coats with a silky sheen.

Pink and red

Pink paired with red is the ultra-feminine color combination that just won’t stop. Though the dynamic duo was present in F/W 21-22 collections, who can blame designers for retreating to the tried-and-true matchup time and time again? The YSL-approved combo adds an instant jolt of joy as seen in Haribison’s and Pat Bo’s mini dresses. The colors brighten Duncan’s version of a trench, while Carolina Herrera upped the ante by adding clear sequins to pink-and-red check sets.

Sheer prints

Sheer-printed tops and dresses were the Y2K respite from the flood of floral and dopamine colors that swept NYFW. The transparent pieces were an example of the general sense that designers this season are calling for a touch of exhibitionism in fashion. Tier showed a body-skimming midi dress printed with a psychedelic take on camouflage. For a full-on late ’90s looks, Eckhaus Latta chose terracotta-hued stripes for coordinating tops and wrap skirts. The sheer trend also teed up new opportunities for Prabal Gurung to play with monochromatic prints. The long-sleeve tops, resembling surfer rash guards, brought a sporty look to the tropical-laced collection. Theophilio offered up a sheer, citrusy ensemble that dabbled in the neon trend, too.

Red leather

From Matrix-style jackets to puff-sleeve dresses, real and faux leather has been par for the course in recent spring seasons. Red leather, however, adds some heat. The vision for 2022 is lightyears from the moto, vixen, or “Thriller” vibes that red leather typically evokes. Rather, labels like Veronica Beard and Sergio Hudson served polished looks with knee-skimming pencil skirts, elevated bomber jackets and matching tall boots. Orange leather, as seen by Theophilio and Maisie Wilen, are honorable mentions.

Mixed metals

Silver or gold—the fashion pendulum tends to swing one way or the other each season, but creative forces including Harbison and Wolk Morais have other plans with color-blocked metallics frocks. Wolk Morais channeled old Hollywood glamour with a silver-and-gold satin sheath dress. Meanwhile, Harbison injected a touch of sci-fi to Harlem’s Fashion Row with a silver-and-copper cutout dress that would look just as cool with stilettos or sneakers.

Shirting stripes

Business is far from usual, and the shirting stripes trend seen at NYFW reflect the current state of affairs. Though preppy and classic in nature, the proper fabrics got a playful designer upgrade. Teddy Vonranson mixed fabrics to create a vacation-ready layered look for men. Duncan experimented with the scale of stripes to create a polished frock with an embellished collar. AKNVAS cinched the waist of a striped tunic with nautical rope and Tanya Taylor combined shirting stripes with check and eyelet details in a casual shirt-and-skirt set. Expect to see this runway trend catch on with the masses like wildfire.

The high-low

Mini dresses with dramatic trains may be the sweet spot in pandemic occasion wear. Less ’80s prom attire and more Regencycore, the high-low silhouettes by designers like Carolina Herrera and Markarian exuded romance and femininity. Tulip sleeves, a subtle bodice cutout and 3D florals kept Markarian’s version frothy and fun, while Carolina Herrera paired polka dots with red poppies for an off-the-shoulder statement.


Though the $5.3 billion U.S. swimwear market has its own week, designers took the opportunity to make a splash at NYFW by incorporating beach-ready pieces into their shows. Designers Pat Bo and Pamella Roland presented one-pieces complete with coverups and head scarves, while swimwear elements added sex appeal to other collections, underscoring the overall theme for skin. Anna Sui styled a lace top under a bandeau. Brandon Maxwell paired a triangle bikini top with printed co-ords. Maryam Nassir Zadeh combined a string bikini top with khaki culottes.