21 Designers on the Meaning of American Style

Land of the free, home of the fashionable.

American designers

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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.

21 Designers on the Meaning of American Style

(Image credit: Future)

American style

(Image credit: Tung Walsh)

"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 (opens in new tab), $725, narrow bracelet (opens in new tab), $625, sandals (opens in new tab), $910, Proenza Schouler. Top (opens in new tab), $625, skirt (opens in new tab), $4,950, necklace, price upon request, rubberized cuff (opens in new tab), $385, sandals (opens in new tab), $910, Proenza Schouler.

American style

(Image credit: Future)

American style

(Image credit: Tung Walsh)

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

American style

(Image credit: Future)

American style

(Image credit: Tung Walsh)

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 (opens in new tab), $695, turtleneck (opens in new tab), $295, pants (opens in new tab), $850, boots (opens in new tab), $1,295, Calvin Klein.

American style

(Image credit: Future)

American style

(Image credit: Tung Walsh)

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 (opens in new tab), $495, Ralph Lauren Collection. Dress (opens in new tab), $3,490, jeans (opens in new tab), $750, necklace (opens in new tab), $2,250, Ralph Lauren Collection; shoes (opens in new tab), $910, Proenza Schouler.

American style

(Image credit: Future)

American style

(Image credit: Tung Walsh)

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 (opens in new tab), $995, shoes (opens in new tab), $950, Gabriela Hearst. Top (opens in new tab), $690, skirt, $1,495, shoes (opens in new tab), $895, Sies Marjan.

American style

(Image credit: Future)

American style

(Image credit: Tung Walsh)

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.

American style

(Image credit: Future)

American style

(Image credit: Tung Walsh)

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.

American style

(Image credit: Future)

American style

(Image credit: Tung Walsh)

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 (opens in new tab), $675, Gianvito Rossi.

American style

(Image credit: Future)

American designers

(Image credit: Tung Walsh)

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 (opens in new tab), $3,900, jacket (opens in new tab), $795, top (opens in new tab), $350, skirt (opens in new tab), $495, hat (opens in new tab), $595, boots (opens in new tab), $295, Coach 1941. Jacket (opens in new tab), $2,400, top (opens in new tab), $350, skirt (opens in new tab), $550, Coach 1941.

American style

(Image credit: Future)

American style

(Image credit: Tung Walsh)

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

Dress, price upon request, boots (opens in new tab), $2,290, Oscar De La Renta. Dress (opens in new tab), $3,990, boots (opens in new tab), $4,990, Oscar De La Renta.

American style

(Image credit: Future)

American style

(Image credit: Tung Walsh)

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.

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.

American style

(Image credit: Future)

American style

(Image credit: Tung Walsh)

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.

American style

(Image credit: Future)

American style

(Image credit: Tung Walsh)

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 (opens in new tab), $290, gloves (opens in new tab), $695, boots (opens in new tab), $795, Michael Kors Collection. Coat, price upon request, dress (opens in new tab), $2,075, belt (opens in new tab), $290, boots (opens in new tab), $795, Michael Kors Collection.

American style

(Image credit: Future)

American style

(Image credit: Tung Walsh)

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

Top (opens in new tab), $1,390, skirt (opens in new tab), $1,290, Carolina Herrera; hat, $214, Stetson. Jacket (opens in new tab), $2,990, top (opens in new tab), $1,090, skirt (opens in new tab), $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.