Nili Lotan Pre-Fall 2021 Collection

“Nili Lotan has never staged a runway show, and she probably never will.” So goes the opening line of my review of Lotan’s spring 2021 collection, and reader, it didn’t age well. On yet another Zoom to discuss pre-fall, Lotan declared that as soon as it’s safe to hold a show, she’s doing it. What a difference five months can make! If in the past it felt like an unnecessary extravagance, particularly for a designer focused on jeans and suits, the concept has taken on a new meaning. Now, to attend a show would mean we’re really, finally past this pandemic and have a clear view of the future after a year of haze. Even just hearing her verbalize her plans felt hopeful.

It may be a while yet before we can gather safely for shows, but Lotan is already getting in the celebratory spirit with pre-fall. After several collections of refined day clothes and sweats, she’s shifting her focus to special, statement-y pieces her customers might not need but will definitely want. Her justification was simple: We’re going to want to dress up this summer and fall, no matter what the world looks like. (Plus, we’ve had a year to buy loungewear and sneakers; perhaps we don’t need new options.)

Jackets, outerwear, and vests were among the most memorable pieces, like Lotan’s signature plush shearling, a hand-crocheted poncho, and an ivory leather-trimmed cape. They’re easy investments because they’re so undeniably functional; we reach for our favorite outerwear daily. Lotan made an oddly compelling case for vests too—one in ivory shearling, another in a hand-embroidered patchwork done in India—though women leaning into fashion’s more rugged, outdoorsy vibe might go for her version of a classic barn jacket instead.

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That jacket looked right at home in upstate New York, where Lotan shot the look book at her own house. For her website and Instagram, she did a separate shoot in Tribeca, completely restyling the clothes for their urban surroundings. Some of her choices went against convention; she put blazers with flared jeans and heeled boots in the country but paired them with joggers and sneakers in the city. It reflects how women in New York are dressing now—mixing loungewear and so-called real clothes—and what our idea of escape looks like without planes, restaurants, or events in the mix. If we’re lucky enough to spend a weekend in Hudson or skiing on Hunter Mountain, we might actually feel galvanized to make a bit of an effort.

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