All That Glitters: Nordstrom Designer Preview 2016 Shines Bright

Posted on August 03, 2016, 2:02 pm
13 mins


A beautiful waterfront setting, gorgeous designer clothes, a festive party atmosphere and a stellar runway show—what’s not to love about Nordstrom Designer Preview? The 2016 NDP marked thirty years of the event, which showcases fall trends from established international designers and talented up-and-comers.

The evening was organized by Nordstrom and Vogue in partnership with Seattle Art Museum Supporters. Proceeds from this year’s event support the upcoming exhibition, “Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style,” opening at Seattle Art Museum on October 11, 2016.


The industrial interior of Pier 91 was transformed into a sophisticated party space, packed with pop-up shops offering shoes, handbags and garment samples from the featured designers. A Vogue Bar showcasing the latest trends was hosted by Nordstrom buyers and Vogue Market Editor Alexandra Michler. Across the room one found a mini version of Nordstrom’s SPACE boutique, curated by Nordstrom VP of Creative Projects Olivia Kim. Designers for SPACE Amanda Phelan and Daniella Villegas as well as special guest, blogger Wendy Nguyen of Wendy’s Lookbook, were also on hand.

Guests mingled, sipped champagne and sampled small bites from food carts, such as noodle dishes in tiny takeout boxes. Another fun detail: you could beat the heat with one of three cocktails names after YSL: The Yves, made of strawberries, lime, vodka and rhubarb; The Saint: limoncello, champagne and peach bitters, or The Laurent: vodka, lime, cucumber and ginger beer.


With the likes of Bowie and Gaga as a soundtrack, models strutted the runway with looks from 17 different designers, showing the big trends for fall 2016. The categories of trends include Texture, Street Wear, New Classic Rock, and Romance. Here is a look at each designer’s point of view and what is big for the upcoming season.

(Note: Some collections did not allow photography, so you’ll have to wait and see the clothes for yourself.)

Christian Dior

Since Christian Dior died in 1957, the following designers have served as the house’s creative leads: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferrè, John Galliano, Bill Gaytten and Raf Simons and now the house’s first woman, Maria Grazia Chiuri, formerly of Valentino. Since Simons’ exit, and prior to Chiuri, studio heads Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux took the interim helm, and they did not disappoint. Romance ruled at Christian Dior, with the full skirt of a romantic nude and polka dot tulle dress, or the classic beauty of a high-waist jacquard pencil skirt. I loved the classic cut coats, each with a hint of modern detail, like exaggerated long sleeves, a scarf neck detail or embroidery.


Missoni did exactly what Missoni does best; colorful, sexy, gorgeous knits that are pure lux bohemian with sophistication. The multi-dyed, intarsia knits mixed zig-zags, checks and stripes in a gorgeous collage of color, silhouettes and shapes. The outfits mesmerized in their contemporary take on the all-over knit look: long cardigans and streaming scarves over beautiful checked mini skirts; a checked poncho swung over a bright striped knit dress. The multicolored lamé, asymmetric moto jacket had me at “hello.”


The shop of emerging and advanced designers curated by Nordstrom Vice President of Creative Projects Olivia Kim showed four designers: Undercover, Simone Rocha, Vetements, and Junya Watanabe Comme de Garçons.


Another great story of art inspiring art, Japanese designer Jun Takahashi took inspiration from Matthieu Bourel, the German collage artist. Images of women’s faces transformed into masks and puzzle pieces printed on blouses and pants. The effect was extraordinary, especially in a trench coat with removable sleeves and a cashmere dress layered over a printed pant. The texture had a major wow factor, from deep green shearling front trousers to a gorgeous, oversized grey fuzzy coat. Undercover’s think-outside-the-box beauty is easy to obsess over.

Simone Rocha

Simone Rocha’s collection was a combination of feminine floaty pieces that included an embroidered nude tulle dress and a fierce red embroidered floral dress with a high neck and sheer overlay. One ensemble in particular proved beyond doubt you can be wrapped in cocoon-like comfort and still be the edgiest girl on the street: a long, pink tweed coat with soft, baggy pockets, dropped shoulder lines and full sleeves over a chunky knit sweater and a crochet skirt. Her collection was both strong and feminine, pulling you in with contradiction and originality. I can’t wait to see what is next for this designer.


Demna Gvasalia, the designer behind Vetements is also the new creative director for Balenciaga, taking over the helm from Alexander Wang. At Vetements the street-style pieces are re-imagined with silhouettes that push the envelope, making this one of the most exciting collections to watch. A bit of darkness combined with the energy of youthful imagination and a whole lot of attitude, Vetements showed floral dresses but gave them exaggerated shoulders and details like metal chains. The burgundy schoolgirl dress was short but not sweet, projecting a killer attitude.

Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons

Hands down the most innovative and provocative of the showings, this collection combined red and black polyurethane-bonded skirts and dresses with giant headpieces created by Tomohiro Kono. Kono’s crafted adornments were layered and geometric like origami, creating a fascinating, thought provoking aesthetic throughout the presentation.

Alexander McQueen

Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen has perfected the beauty of tailoring that mixes the masculine and the feminine in every detail. The v-neck dress with a cape back was powerful, as were the fitted lambskin turtlenecks paired with slim leggings, all in black. I was mesmerized by the fitted black coat with cheeky-cool embroidery of lips, butterflies and flowers, but my favorite had to be the silky printed black flare trousers and blazer, strutting with attitude and an iconic knuckle duster clutch.

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney is famous for her vegan, cruelty-free fashion line as well as her easy and elegant pieces. Her entire collection was lush and tactile to behold. Her cream speckle knit, oversized sweater and matching long-knit skirt (clinging in all the right places) was a favorite look. Swans made a cheeky appearance in print, as did faux fur leopard. The ink blue gown of velvet and sheer panels was understated elegance.


Joseph Altuzarra has the ability to make even chunky-knit neckwear and sweaters look sexy, especially when paired with his perfectly fitted and slitted skirts and dresses. The clothes bore a fabulous combination of prints and stripes, texture and pattern that never overwhelm and always make the most of the feminine shape. The sapphire viscose and satin fringe dress with zipper details and the flowing handkerchief dresses repeated the emphasis on the waist and the ability to show movement and detail.


The fashion world may be a real jungle, but Akris seems to have it tamed. Albert Kriemler‘s gorgeous use of color shined in an eye-popping orange ribbed knit cape and tunic, while an aubergine jacket embroidered to emulate elephant skin, leather blouse and flannel pants was more subdued and totally chic. Safari inspired prints were subtle details, like a red tiger stripe print lapel coat and sheath dress, and a zebra print Masai neck tunic and panel coat.

Dolce & Gabanna

The bright red military dress with silver ball details made an audible impression on the guests at the start of the Dolce & Gabanna show. Florals were in bloom with 3D floral prints on dresses, and a bit of military influences showed in the coats, with double-breasted peacoats and oversized houndstooth. Ladylike leopard dresses, and black and gold dresses with lace and black velvet had me dreaming of holiday parties.

Dries Van Noten

Dries showed us once again that borrowing from the boys and adding a dash of ’70s is always a good idea. Opulent gold, copper and black, long and lean jackets and great details. I loved the open jackets with neckties below glamorous purple feather chokers, and the ecru pajama pants were pure Old Hollywood. Dries is known for beautiful pattern mixes and the Fall collection did not disappoint, from cheetah prints to jacquard dresses worn over pinstripe pants. The green and black velvet gown with lattice embroidered bodice and a green faux-fur stole…well…stole the show.


The final designer to walk the show, Marchesa, had a parade of modern day princesses showing an Edwardian influence that was worthy of the red carpet: the glittering of silver beaded crystal; the red, floral mermaid embroidery; off-the-shoulder 3D flowers and feathers. The blue, ostrich feather gown with beaded embroidery and a wide blue silk sash (tied in giant bow at the back) ensures that its wearer leaves an impression both entering and exiting any room.

With all this to see, what can be the takeaway? The mood was romantic, yet gothic… ’70s, yet contemporary.

Certainly embroidery is huge this season. It is a detail that was present in almost every collection. I loved seeing the colors bottle green and oxblood make an appearance again, and you can count on opulence in the form of sequins, velvet, leather and feathers.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the opening of the “Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style” at The Seattle Art Museum from October 11, 2016 to January 8, 2017.

And be sure to check out more of VS photographer Christopher Reick‘s stunning pictures of the event in VS Daily Photos: Nordstrom Designer Preview 2016. 

Lisa Cole is the fashion and style writer for Vanguard Seattle, and her work includes covering fashion news and events, runway shows and boutiques. She has her own fashion and lifestyle blog,, and is a member of Independent Fashion Bloggers and Fashion Group International.

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