21 Designers on the Meaning of American Style

Land of the free, home of the fashionable.

Our country has a long history of fiercely independent free thinkers—like these 21 trailblazing talents behind America's biggest and most boundary-pushing fashion brands. Here, they reveal the inspirations for their fall collections, and how they see our nation now.

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"The Sillhouettes imply a sense of action. We referenced our memories of New York—from music to street art—celebrating the energy and feeling on the streets today."

Dress, price upon request, wide bracelet, $725, narrow bracelet, $625, sandals, $910, Proenza Schouler. Top, $625, skirt, $4,950, necklace, price upon request, rubberized cuff, $385, sandals, $910, Proenza Schouler.

"I was thinking about dance and spontaneous movement. The unexpected combinations of textiles and colors and expressive hand-drawn prints create an eclectic glamour."

Jacket, $598, Top, $298, Bodysuit, $268, Diane Von Furstenburg. On hair: Not Your Mother's Naturals Tahitian Gardenia Flower & Mango Butter Curl Defining Combing Cream.

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"Not one era, not one thing, not one look—it is the coming together of different characters and different individuals, just like America itself."

Top, $695, turtleneck, $295, pants, $850, boots, $1,295, Calvin Klein.

"I was inspired by a nomadic spirit, an exotic sophistication—contrasting pure shapes with rustic textures, shades of the desert, and artful, one-of-a-kind jewelry."

Dress, price upon request, earrings, $495, Ralph Lauren Collection. Dress, $3,490, jeans, $750, necklace, $2,250, Ralph Lauren Collection; shoes, $910, Proenza Schouler.

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"I never draw anything and don't work with themes or mood boards. We let the color and material decide everything, from shape and volume to design." — Lak

"I wanted the collection to be luxurious but not wasteful. Using existing fabrics and materials was a very important part of the process." — Hearst

From left: Coat, price upon request, bodysuit, $995, shoes, $950, Gabriela Hearst. Top, $690, skirt, $1,495, shoes, $895, Sies Marjan.

"We were inspired by 'Charlotte's Web' and used dome studding, lace, and sequins to mimic the idea of dewdrops on spiderwebs."

Jacket, top, skirt & belt, prices upon request, Rodarte. On eyes: Maybelline New York The Colossal Big Shot Mascara.

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"The sexiest thing a woman can wear is her boyfriend's clothes. To us, if she doesn't look like it took her five minutes to get ready, we didn't do our job well." — Kim and Garcia

"The collection was based on the idea of Gesamtkunstwerk, a German word meaning 'a total work of art.'" — Browne

Dress & boots, prices upon request, Monse. Coat, price upon request, jacket, $3,770, top, $590, pants, $2,200, tie, $190, shoes, $3,400, Thom Browne. On hair: Nexxus City Shield DD Crème.

"The goal is for the clothes to empower her and make her feel beautiful, but never outshine her." — Maxwell

"There is a certain 'pop' quality, especially for evening, that is a bit reminiscent of the '60s Warhol beauty that Edie Sedgwick possessed." — Ford

Dress, price upon request, Brandon Maxwell; boots, $1,295, Gianvito Rossi. Dress, price upon request, neck sash, $390, tights, $160, Tom Ford; shoes, $675, Gianvito Rossi.

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"We referenced the early- 1980s hip-hop scene of New York City, specifically Jamel Shabazz's book 'Back in the Days,' and we cut this against a nostalgic look at the American landscape."

Coat, $3,900, jacket, $795, top, $350, skirt, $495, hat, $595, boots, $295, Coach 1941. Jacket, $2,400, top, $350, skirt, $550, Coach 1941.

"We wanted to go back to the things that Oscar loved the most: clean shapes and bold embroidery."

Dress, price upon request, boots, $2,290, Oscar De La Renta. Dress, $3,990, boots, $4,990, Oscar De La Renta.

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"I like the idea of dressed-up casual clothes. I watched a documentary on hip-hop, and the style that came from that scene lent itself to that idea. It started with track pants, short dresses, gold jewelry, and hats."

Coat, $4,200, jacket, $3,425, sweater, price upon request, pants, $295, earrings, $250, rings, $175, shoes, $1,800, Marc Jacobs; hat, $750, Stephen Jones for Marc Jacobs.

"We focused on female power and confident eroticism, with clothes fixated on delineating the body and bringing together an aggressive, resilient tribe of debauchers."

Dress, $1,295, Alexander Wang. Vest, price upon request, top, $895, leggings, $695, Alexander Wang. On brows: Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel.

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"I was thinking about power, strength, and modernity, all through a very sensual lens. I wanted a wardrobe that was chic and glamorous but had this sense of protection and coziness."

Dress, price upon request, belt, $290, gloves, $695, boots, $795, Michael Kors Collection. Coat, price upon request, dress, $2,075, belt, $290, boots, $795, Michael Kors Collection.

"It was all about effortless silhouettes with feminine detailing. To me, the less complicated, the more modern."

Top, $1,390, skirt, $1,290, Carolina Herrera; hat, $214, Stetson. Jacket, $2,990, top, $1,090, skirt, $1,190, Carolina Herrera; hat, $425, Stetson.

Fashion Editor: Enrique Campos | Hair: Tuan Anh Tran for R+Co at Art Department | Makeup: Campbell Ritchie for Lancôme at Art Department | Models: Xiara Waller at Fusion Model Management; Danielle Ellsworth at The Society Management | Location: Hankins Farm, Virginia

This article appears in the July issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands now.

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