Searching for Joy at NYFW: From Musicals to Tiny Dogs and Even Oprah

In an industry that often feels isolating and competitive, Susan Alexandra — both the person and the brand — is a beacon of light. Her metal jewellery and beaded purses have quickly sparked a fashion revolution, fostering a community of fans who see her accessories as not just the frosting on top of an outfit but the main course. In an instant, a micro beaded watermelon bag meant for one’s AirPods can transform an outfit into a fruity snack while a pair of shrimps cocktail earrings can make your ears resemble a classy appetiser. Susan’s pieces are not only delicious; they’re delightfully witty, making anyone who wears them stand out from the crowd.

Since the designer and her brand burst onto the scene a few years ago, New York Fashion Week has never been quite the same. From showcasing her pieces in a bagel shop to recreating her Bat Mitzvah party, Susan’s presentations have become fashion week’s most sparkly celebration. And this season was no different. This time around, Susan took the opportunity to turn her personal story into “Susan Alexandra: The Musical,” which was written by her BFF composer Mur and choreographed by Hannah Cullen.


Taking place in the basement of the Public Hotel, moments before the show started a saxophonist played Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” while the crowd snacked on Kettle chips, sipped mini juices, and observed one of her iconic bags frozen in a big ice cube. Then the lights dimmed and out came a cast of characters on the stage, including the insta-famous comedian and actor Benito Skinner, singer Sasha Spielberg, and comedian Lauren Servidio, wearing colourful bodysuits, tutus, and of course SA bags that took her beaded designs to the next level along with massive beaded hoops and piles of beaded necklaces and bracelets. 


“There’s a girl who makes all those beaded bags!” they sang, pointing to the incredibly talented Aisha Kerensa who was dressed in a sparkly silver outfit adorned with beaded butterflies and carrying a rainbow beaded fringe bag — the Susan Alexandra incarnate told the audience that she wanted to open her own shop but was nervous despite our current retail apocalypse. 


From there, Susan (the character) went onto meet a landlord lady with a glass of wine in the form of a beaded purse who discouraged her from following her dreams. The third number saw Susan battling her demons with a group of performers dressed in all black, convincing her she’d never succeeded. But then, Susan came upon a stray dog, Pigeon, and together they realised they could do it together (Pigeon is Susan’s IRL pup). In the final act, the entire cast returned to the stage adding massive cherries, rainbows, martini glasses, and a balloon version of one of her bags, to their bodysuits — all references to Susan’s actual designs.


For Susan Alexandra, accessories are art pieces that brighten our days and connect us to our shared humanity. While other NYFW events tend to just present clothes, Susan playfully reminds us that our wildest dreams are possible, especially when we carry her beaded purses around.


After Susan’s show, I had a difficult choice to make — to attend other NYFW shows (Claudia Li, Private Policy, R13, and so on) or catch Oprah and Michelle Obama in conversation thanks to an invite from Missoma, the UK-based jewellery brand. As much as I love fashion, this felt like too good of an opportunity to pass up. Seated across from each other at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the iconic duo didn’t talk fashion, but they did talk big life lessons that can easily be applied to our wardrobes. Speaking about claiming your power and activating your vision — all things I think are possible with the help of an expressive outfit — Michelle told the audience to “walk your walk,” (i.e. stand in your truth & be who you are!) a concept that doesn’t feel too far off from the ways models must confidently strut down catwalks and other fashion week goers put on their best outfits and faces while running around New York.


After a short nap and quick outfit change, I caught the Sandy Liang show where the designer used her fashion show as an opportunity to reunite with her high school. Taking place at Stuyvesant High School in TriBeCa, the event started with a string quartet that brought a sense of drama and classiness to the cold, marble space. Liang, one of New York’s rising fashion stars, presented a collection that was more toned down and grown-up than her previous collections. Though it still had hints of quirkiness that have made her pieces so deeply loved. 


There was a white shirt with an exaggerated peter pan collar (it was entirely Little Women-esque), brown and black tent dresses, and light pink, thin pieces with metal piercing details. Her iconic fleeces were more minimal this time — a cream-coloured one had black pockets and a black and white gingham zipper while another one was merely brown and black, resembling the North Face fleece I wore in high school. There were fur-lined leather coats and a baby pink leather moto jacket with soft, thick fur on the back. She also brought back the anime, Sailor Moon-like print from last season, this time iterated via a puffer coat, track pants, and a matching turtleneck, a long-sleeved shirt dress, cute cardigans, and more. 


A key highlight? An electric blue sweater accessorised with a tiny white dog wearing a Sandy Liang jewellery piece around its neck. Everyone oohed and awed as the adorable dog came down the runway. But he only stole the show for a moment before the crowd went back to obsessing over the clothes. Ultimately Liang used her latest collection to school us on her evolution as a designer, giving us insight into what’s to come next from the brand.

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