Flying Solo show features 25 designers challenging social norms

Flying Solo’s collaborative Spring/Summer 2023 collection confronts conventional representations of culture and gender to create social impact.

Payton Selby, Contributing Writer

The crowd that formed around Flying Solo’s neon-lit New York Fashion Week runway wore clothes just as diverse as the debuted collections. The 25 designers highlighted on the runway displayed unique and boundary-pushing designs, while the show collectively underscored each brand’s ethos of artful and socially impactful fashion design. 

Flying Solo, a curated fashion collective which brings together creatives from around the world, has established an ethos of artful and socially impactful fashion design. The show’s runway was intended to be a site of collaboration and discourse by prioritizing consciousness of a changing global environmental landscape.

Two models pass each other, one wearing a white dress and the other wearing a black two-piece striped suit; A model walking down the aisle wearing a gray ensemble.
(Shirley Xumeng Zhang for WSN)

Based out of London and Mumbai, Maison Audmi seeks to unpack the long-standing impacts of the Western gender binary on fashion. The collection, titled “Audmi” — a combination of the Hindi words “aurat,” meaning woman, and “aadmi,” meaning man — featured men in elegant skirts paired with celestial bejeweled masks, removing the influence of the gender binary and instead focusing on the designs themselves.

Model walking down aisle in a green two-piece pantsuit with an emerald and gold mask.
(Shirley Xumeng Zhang for WSN)
A woman poses on the runway aisle wearing a purple top and skirt with black heels; A woman poses wearing an indigo square top and matching bottoms.
(Shirley Xumeng Zhang for WSN)

The brand Tayground brought electric color to the runway and a genuine sense of fun. The Tayground Uniform — an angular, futuristic, latex drapery paired with a matching skirt — came in brilliant shades of electric blue and pink, merging futuristic design with what appears to be a spring and summer season trend of bold, bright colors.

Woman walks down the aisle in a salmon dress with a black belt and boots; A woman poses on the runway with a fuschia dress and bare feet.
(Shirley Xumeng Zhang for WSN)

Aligned with Flying Solo’s commitment to variety, several handbag and jewelry designers collaborated with clothing designers in accessorizing their looks, debuting collections of their own. Designer Georgina Herrera, whose collection presented basic neutral and solid color gowns complemented by decadent body jewelry and metallic shawls, said the role of jewelry in design should never be underestimated. 

A woman clutches a handbag while wearing a pink shirt, black skirt and sunglasses; A woman holds a brown, jeweled bag while wearing white, flowy pants.
(Shirley Xumeng Zhang for WSN)

“Jewelry should be the primary piece in your wardrobe,” she said. “Jewelry is a great way to be bold.”

The theme of culturally conscious design took an unfortunate plateau with the JUNIOR BLVD collection. This childrenswear brand displayed an interesting and colorful line, yet one lacking in artistry. Its young models may have done more to win the audience over than the designs.

While all artists displayed collections worthy of standing on their own, the combined efforts and visions of many designers heightened the message of each design. INGJIN SAN displayed beautiful gowns complete with cultural embroidery and fabrics with printed messages. The first look proclaimed the message “fashion is inherently political” as she proceeded to call for an end to the ongoing genocide in Burma.

By creating space for globally-based, independent designers and looks that challenge societal norms, Flying Solo has committed itself to merging several cultural influences to make fashion equally as meaningful as it is beautiful.

Correction, Sept. 15: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported where Audmi was founded. The article has been updated to reflect the correction and WSN regrets the error.

Contact Payton Selby at [email protected].