My jeans may be baggy and my hair may be middle-parted, but at the end of the day, I’m a proud millennial. Doling out fashion hot takes since 1995, baby! And while I know my generation has sparked many a trend—some, admittedly, I’d like to forget—there’s no denying Gen Z are the ones with the most say over fashion’s current trend forecasts.
In some ways, this is a good thing. With respect to the old guard, nothing beats a breath of fresh air in the form of inclusive sizing, sustainable fabrics, genderless silhouettes, and ethical manufacturing practices—all elements of the industry that the greater community of Gen Z fashionistas have championed. Granted, their short-lived obsessions with *insert virtually any word*-core aesthetics have also sped up the trend cycle at a wastefully rapid pace, but I can’t help but find their overall approach to the fashion world fascinating.
This fashion month, I hired a part-time assistant to help me ease some minor fashion week stressors, from schlepping bags from show to show to helping me get good outfit photos. Of course, it’s no surprise that I also picked the brain of Brooke Frischer, 22, a fashion student and proud member of the Gen Z fashion set.
Frischer is quick to clarify that she’s in no way the Voice of Gen Z. “I feel like Gen Z—especially in terms of fashion—is rounded up into this one giant entity, but there are so many sub-categories,” she says. “There’s really no one way to define Gen Z’s fashion sense, probably more so than any other generation.”
Still, she agrees with my assertion that Gen Z presents their own unique approach to fashion criticism, and credits a digital age upbringing as the reason for the open-mindedness she and her peers possess. “We were raised in the age of social media, and our minds have been opened up to ideas that maybe previous generations weren’t exposed to, because they didn’t have access to the entire world like we do now,” she says.
In between shows, Frischer and I chatted about the top looks that caught our attention—and I was intrigued by how different our trend roundups looked. It seemed Frischer favored certain looks less for their aesthetic and more for what they represented, be it a potentially frumpy silhouette she believed went against the prioritization of the hourglass, or a somewhat silly motif she saw as commentary on real-world issues (read: Moschino’s pool inflatables as a reference to inflation).
“When I look at fashion month photos, I look for things that inspire me that I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else. Something that draws a strong emotion,” says Frischer. “It’s important, in my opinion, that designers who are also artists take advantage of their platforms and make statements with their clothing, not just make something pretty.”
From her love for Simone Rocha and Tanner Fletcher to her shocking approval of reinvented millennial standbys (bomber jackets and peplums are back, baby), Frischer took the time to generously break down Gen Z’s top fashion month trends to an old-timer like me. Below, her favorite looks, from New York to Paris.
“I have never really been into lace—as a young girl, I was a tomboy, and I associated lace with the ultra-feminine,” says Fischer. “When I’m dressing in a way that’s too feminine, or I’m using things that are stereotypically feminine, I almost feel overwhelmed by that. It never feels comfortable.”
This season, Frischer fancied lacy accents on edgier pieces that gave the traditionally femme material a bit more grit, seen on the runways at Nensi Dojaka, Dilara, and Diesel. “Seeing designers use lace in contrast with other textures and fabrics, it’s grown on me. It’s touching on something nostalgic—like the lace-trimmed camisoles we used to wear in middle school—but in a way that isn’t so one-dimensional.”
“As a schlepper myself, I have never been interested in the tiny bag trend, and I appreciate when my bag can hold all of my stuff,” Frischer shares. “I suppose big bags have always had the key to my heart.”
While mini bags certainly had their moment thanks to brands like Jacquemus glamorizing the impractical, it’s clear larger silhouettes are on the rise—and not just because they’re convenient.
“The trend I noticed this fashion month was that the bags were very voluminous, not just oversized,” says Frischer, citing pieces at Sportmax and Molly Goddard. “They had unique shapes… they actually had a design element to them that wasn’t just utilitarian.”
Believe it or not, the denim pieces that caught Frischer’s eye this season were quite infrequently jeans. “As a denim lover, it’s exciting to see different takes on the fabric that doesn’t just have to fit one classic piece of clothing, the jean,” she says.
Instead, she was thrilled to see fashion’s favorite pants reinterpreted in different ways, from a JW Anderson collar that appeared to be made from the waistband of a pair of jeans, to denim underwear at Dilara.
Frischer also applauded Diesel and Masha Popova for their creativity when it came to denim silhouettes. “The boning in the Diesel collection is so impressive—even if you’re not someone that’s interested in wearing a full denim Canadian Tuxedo, you can’t not love it,” she says. “That collection, to me, was why we have fashion shows. To see things that evoke pure amazement.”
Frischer’s interest in embracing myriad silhouettes boils down to her criticism of one: The oft-embraced hourglass. “Emphasizing the shape of a woman’s body is not the only way to represent what it means to be feminine,” she insists, critiquing designers that often rely on thinness and models with ‘perfect’ measurements to bring their clothes to life.
Together, we coin the phrase ‘anti-silhouette’ to represent looser, less traditionally-flattering silhouettes that can be just as stunning.
“I have found my preferred expression of my femininity to be through the anti-silhouette, drawing on big shapes and volume in certain parts of a garment, to create an emphasis on parts of me that aren’t, let’s say, a cinched waist,” says Frischer. She cites Sportmax, Simone Rocha, and Molly Goddard as sending thoughtful and unique silhouettes down the runway.
“There’s not one way to represent your femininity. You don’t have to be the girl with a cinched waist, you don’t have to be wearing a corset and a mini skirt that flares out,” says Frischer. “You can be just as glamorously feminine in oversized, billowing clothing.”
For me, ruffles fall somewhere on a scale between baby clothes and royal garb, consistently ruled out as either much too childish or far too serious. Frischer, though, is a bona fide ruffle connoisseur.
“Ruffles were very very prominent on a lot of runways this month, much to my delight,” she says. “This season’s version of ruffles has an edginess to it that we haven’t seen previously, and there’s something refreshing about seeing ruffles paired with different fabrics that aren’t the typical tulle and taffeta.”
“It’s a refreshing take on something that has such alignment to children’s clothes, which kind of ties into kidcore, but makes it feel mature, so you don’t look like you’re dressing like a toddler,” says Frischer.
As for looking too regal? The edginess of the silhouettes seen at Gucci, Susan Fang, Simona Rocha, Feben, and Dilara cancels this out, too. “These looks pave a way to not have to look so prim and proper in ruffles,” she insists. “They can be chaotic ruffles!”
When Frischer and I discuss cut-outs, she makes it clear she isn’t a fan of what I consider to be one of the season’s biggest trends, cut-outs at the waist meant to highlight one’s abs or obliques. “The trend of cut-outs has never really appealed to me because I feel like they’re always intended to spotlight thin bodies, and that doesn’t sit well with me,” says Frischer.
“When cut-outs at the hips became extremely popular, it felt like an exclusive trend that was intended to show off thin bodies. I like seeing intentional design behind the cut-out that’s meant to make the clothing interesting, rather than just highlight the wearer’s body,” she says.
“It should be about the silhouette, not the person wearing it,” insists Frischer, citing Nensi Dojaka, Feben, Chloe, and Undercover as shows with great examples. “You can play with cut-outs in a way that doesn’t have to be, ‘Let me know as much skin as possible.’”
College Me would die if she found out that the army green bomber jacket she wore to the dive bars every night was cool again—well, some version of it. “The bomber jackets on the Simone Rocha runway felt like a new twist on a millennial trend that I’ve personally never really been interested in wearing myself,” says Frischer.
These new iterations have been reworked with excessive straps, puffy sleeves, peplum bottoms, and more design details that add bonus interest to a largely utilitarian silhouette. “This is also just me being obsessed with Simone Rocha and thinking she can do no wrong,” admits Frischer. “Simone Rocha has a hold over me that I can’t get out of—so much so that I’m now not hating on bomber jackets.”
This is the one that I’m confident will send my fellow millennials into a tailspin. You read that right—peplums are in. But rest assured, they’re far more elevated than the styles we hoarded in our teens.
“Seeing peplums in this season’s runways felt jarring at first, and like a flashback to 2012 when everyone thought business casual was the ultimate everyday couture for our school outfits—and even going-out outfits,” says Frischer. “But this new peplum feels different. It feels like designers are finally getting it right.”
“This peplum doesn’t have to feel business-y or overwhelmingly accentuated, it just has to flow,” she notes, citing looks at Tibi and Collina Strada as strong examples. “I like the play on proportions that designers are showing through peplums. They’re reimagining them for a new generation.”
When I first noticed a bevy of low-rise skirts on the runway, I had flashbacks to the uncomfy denim days—until Frischer showed me a new perspective on the silhouette. “I think that the difference between drop-waist and low-rise skirts is that low-rise skirts are often styled to show midriff and flaunt as much skin as possible,” she says.
“With the trends I’m seeing on the runways, it’s not about that, it’s just about interest in the shape of the garment. You can layer a shirt over a billowing skirt that hits at the hips, and not have exposed skin be the aesthetic,” she says.
Frischer continues: “For years, fashion has told us not to highlight our hips, and this trend asks us to do exactly that, and embrace the natural shape of our bodies. That feels exciting to me, because there’s nothing wrong with having hips.”
“The best example is the Molly Goddard dress where there is very little skin showing. In fact, it’s very modest,” says Frischer.
While most of Frischer’s hot takes on trends have more to do with the meaning behind the garments than the aesthetics, there’s one look she can’t help but appreciate for prettiness alone. “I love a good bow,” she laughs.
“I saw this Tanner Fletcher suit and was taken back to when I first saw the Samantha American Girl doll when I was around 10 years old. She had the most perfect bow in her hair, and I wanted to look just like her,” Frischer says. “Seeing this suit reflected that same idea, but all over me. Who doesn’t want to have bows all over every inch of their body?"