NYFW is over for another season, and through blurry eyes we're looking back at the women who, from debuts to production and analysis, wielded the most influence over the course of this crazy week.
As ever, the week was full of surprises, with the designers who chose to present in New York, wowing the crowds from the streets of Brooklyn, to the American Museum of Natural History, the Park Avenue Armory and beyond. It was a week of big debuts, show-stopping returns and fashion history in the making.
We've rounded up five powerful (influencers) we think were a force behind NYFW and deserve to be recognized. From new designers to runway reviewers these ladies embody what it truly means to be influential during fashion week.
Kheris Rogers, Breakout NYFW Designer
Kheris Rogers. Photo courtesy of Afropunk
The youngest of the bunch, 11-year-old Kheris Rogers made headlines this week as she debuted her diversity-driven t-shirt collection.
Rogers was bullied in school for her dark-colored skin and would come home crying from school, her self-esteem shook. The negativity began to impact her life drastically, and realizing this, Rogers' older sister, Taylor Pollard, took action. Pollard posted pictures of her younger sister on Twitter with the hashtag, #FlexinInHerComplexion. The tweet subsequently went viral and was retweeted over 30,000 times. Rogers began to regain her confidence and had a motive. She wanted to make a positive difference in society.
Rogers went on to launch a t-shirt line with the slogan, “Flexin' In My Complexion," showcasing her creative ability to build upon a trend she saw a market for. Making history on Sunday, September 10th, she became the youngest designer to show off her collection during New York Fashion Week. She presented her clothing line at the Museum of the City of New York in East Harlem. The show included models with different skin tones to promote diversity, and amplify her message. We salute you, Kheris.
Justine Marjan, Global Stylist, TRESemmé
TRESemmé's go-to girl for all things fashion week SS18 was Justine Marjan, who headed up the hair department for an eye-watering line-up of shows this season. Marjan lead her team for
SWAAY caught up with Marjan at her last show, Alice + Olivia, where constructing an effortless rock-chic look was the task at hand. "The clothes are pretty feminine so they wanted to edge it up," Marjan smiled as she explained her flat iron technique to those of us ogling her GHD prowess.
Sarah Lucero, Global Executive Director of Creative Artistry, Stila Cosmetics
Sarah Lucero. Photo courtesy of Into the Gloss
Make up artists - their work is splattered all over the runways, editorial pages and spreads, but it's too often they're forgotten in the mounds written about the week itself.
Sarah Lucero has been a force at NYFW for many seasons now on Stila's behalf. This season, Lucero headed her team for five shows; sculpting faces at KUR, Cinq a Sept, Banana Republic, BCBG and Cynthia Rowley.
Catching up with Lucero backstage at Cinq á Sept, she meticulously walked us through the shimmering look for the upcoming show. Stila, having launched their new product, the Glitter and Glow liquid eyeshadow were debuting it on the models of the hour. Talking us through the bold face and how it correlates with the line, Lucero comments "it's very tailored, very structured, there's a sophistication that I love about it. It's very Stila!"
Nicole Phelps, Director, Vogue Runway
There is tons NYFW news coverage - so so much, we could spend hours reading. But of that coverage, it's inevitable that Vogue rules the roost. With access and an army, comes great content.
Nicole Phelps, Director of Vogue Runway since 2015, is our go-to for all things fashion week. Her no-frills, show reviews are incredibly well done, encapsulating the essence of each runway within her opinion, without sounding like she's churning out her 5000th runway review, which she is. Phelps has been doing this, and doing it exceptionally well, for years now, on behalf of Elle, WWD, and Style.com.
Nicole Phelps. Photo courtesy of Vogue/Benedict Brink
Kaia Gerber, Model of the Week
The Gigi's and Kendall's of the world were somewhat, if not totally eclipsed this week by the new gal in town - Kaia Gerber, the offspring of supermodel and legend Cindy Crawford.
Gerber walked in five shows, beginning with a bang at Calvin Klein, strutting the streets at Alexander Wang's #Wangfest, donning some psychedelic streetwear at Rihanna's Fenty x Puma and finishing off with Coach and Marc Jacobs.
Kaia Gerber at COACH. Photo courtesy of Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty
At just 16, Gerber's future looks incredibly bright, and we're eagerly anticipating where next she might show up next on a catwalk. If this week is anything to go by - it will inevitably be somewhere fabulous.
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.