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Harbison SS16

It’s a beautiful day in New York City. I enter the Standard Hotel, maneuver past over a hundred people, anxious to see the HARBISON SS16 collection. NYC skyline views, a chic hotel, stylish attendees, it’s everything NYFW represents.   Charles Elliott Harbison has come a long way from his rural North Carolina roots, raised by a mother who worked in a textile factory, to showing at New York Fashion Week and even an invitation to the White House.

His collection is chic and playful. There is lots of color blocking and mixed media, as well as plays on multiple textiles, all creating pieces that move easily from Spring to Summer. It’s refreshing and well thought-out, yet effortless. Charles is trained in high-end luxury textiles. Studying fine arts and textiles at North Carolina State University (an Ani Albers Scholar), he interned with Michael Kors, then lived abroad for a year, before returning to the US to attend Parsons School of Design. If that wasn’t impressive enough, last fall, First Lady Michelle Obama invited him to attend her fashion workshop at the White House.

Harbison SS16

Harbison SS16

When I asked him about the influence for his SS16 line, the depth of his answer is hardly surprising.

“Joey from Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” he tells me. “I thought there was something amazingly brilliant about her complete and utter disregard for other people in the face of the thing that she loved. She expected everyone to get in line. Her vivacious energy against Sidney Poitier’s really beautifully elegant intellectual way, they were my new love romance.

“I wanted to draw from this collection which turned into this idea of renegade surf girl who attacked the wave and there is beauty in how the wave took her under, in that experience, and going after the thing that she loved.”

Harbison SS16

(Image courtesy of Cid Nichols)

However, Charles credits his mother as his life-long muse, stating that there are inspirations from her throughout his entire collection. His respect towards his mother, his family, his upbringing is refreshing. Throughout the mix of industry insiders, stylists, celebrities, Charles is very aware of his family and friends.

He leans and tells me, “There is so much North Carolina in the building,” with a smile. I’m captivated by the HARBISON spell that Beyoncé, Solange, and women who love looking effortlessly chic, have come to love.

Instagram Photo

We conclude our interview discussing the social injustice facing the Black community in America. Right before his publicist escorts him off hurriedly for his final bow, he gives the following encouraging message to those facing injustice and working to overcome adversity due to blackness in their particular field:

“Know your worth. Know the beauty of who you are and the beauty of what you do and let that govern your every step and don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise, EVER. And with that idea and mentality, you can circumvent so many things that you shouldn’t have to, but you CAN. It’s important to know that. There is NO obstacle you can’t surmount. You don’t have to feel weighed down by certain realities. They are there, we know its there, we will talk about it and work against it…but at the end of the day it doesn’t define who.we.are.”


Watch some behind the scenes and at the show via Periscope ‘Danielle James’


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1. Crisp White

Christian Siriano - Runway - Spring 2016 New York Fashion WeekSource:Getty

White has definitely been a staple of the last few seasons. It’s become a year-round color that works with just about everything. But this season’s white is even more glam, with silver undertones and clean lines, like this look from Christian Siriano.

2. 90s

DKNY Women's - Runway - Spring 2016 New York Fashion Week: The ShowsSource:Getty

Good news if you love your flannels, brown lipstick and tank dresses with combat boots — the trend isn’t going anywhere any time soon. At DKNY, the models were straight out of a Winona Ryder movie, but with a more refined feel. Think luxurious fabrics and tailoring on your vintage-inspired gear (I know, it’s terrifying that 90s is technically vintage).

3. Power Shoulders

Michael Costello - Runway - Spring 2016 New York Fashion WeekSource:Getty

Even if everyone is having a 90s moment, the beloved staple of the 80s — the power shoulder — is here to stay. At Michael Costello, it was in bold colors and sexy silhouettes, like this plunge-neck jumpsuit. Make this trend work for you with fun jackets and cape dresses at work and sexy v-neck dresses at night.

4. Bold Florals

Tadashi Shoji - Runway - Spring 2016 New York Fashion WeekSource:Getty

I can’t write this one without quoting Miranda Priestly’s famous line: “Florals for spring? Groundbreaking.” But in this case it actually is. Next season’s florals aren’t your average.Think embellishments, drama and over-the-top prints in luxury fabrics, like this gorgeous gown from Tadashi Shoji.

5. 70s Chic

Diane Von Furstenberg - Runway - Spring 2016 New York Fashion WeekSource:Getty

If any designer were to dominate the 1970s vibe, it would definitely be Diane Von Furstenberg, and her SS16 collection did not disappoint. With bold prints, flowing curls, bright colors and disco vibes, the collection was an ode to DVF in her heyday. Think Studio 54 parties with Bianca Jagger and Donna Summer.

6. Fur

Rodarte - Runway RTW - Spring 2016 - New York Fashion WeekSource:Getty

Don’t retire those furs from the last few seasons just yet, as designers’ love for the faux fur trend has yet to fade. Rodarte’s collection was all about the bold, oversize fur coat over romantic flowing dresses. Style yours with a patterned tight and a flowing A-line skirt and you’ve got a great look (that’s probably already hanging in your closet). Pro-tip: Hit thrift stores for vintage faux fur at half the price.

7. Sporty Chic

Marc Jacobs - Runway - Spring 2016 New York Fashion WeekSource:Getty

This sporty trend may not quite be the same as the last few seasons’ love for “athleisure,” where joggers and heels were the fashion it-girl’s closet staple, but the look definitely isn’t going anywhere. This season’s collection from Marc Jacobs was all about varsity looks with an edge. Think of ways to rock your letterman sweater and sneakers with just a hint of sass and you’ll nail this popular trend.

8. Bold Color

Prabal Gurung - Runway - Spring 2016 New York Fashion Week: The ShowsSource:Getty

While nothing beats an LBD and minimal chic, this season’s runways were also all about a love affair with color, especially bold reds and orange, like this sexy off-the-shoulder sweater dress at Prabal Gurung.

9. Gypsy Queen

Proenza Schouler - Runway - Spring 2016 New York Fashion WeekSource:Getty

At Proenza Schouler this season, the looks were sexy with a gypsy twist. With ruffles, pussy bows and high-waists a-plenty, this trend may seem tricky to incorporate into your wardrobe, but with a little help from your tie-neck blouses and high-waist trousers, it will be easier than you think.

10. Classic Glam With A Twist

Altuzarra - Runway RTW - Spring 2016 - New York Fashion WeekSource:Getty

While trends come and go, the classics never die. But this season, the classic gets an update with copper & rust tones and rich texture. Look for a statement coat in a rich, vibrant suede or an embossed leather, like this look from Altuzarra.

11. Romance

Oscar De La Renta - Runway - Spring 2016 New York Fashion WeekSource:Getty

Love was in the air at Oscar de la Renta, with lace, floral, velvet and layers dominating the collection. The pieces were flirty with a flair for the dramatic — it wasn’t about soft pinks and whites, but instead, models strutted in colors that commanded emotion, like this rich and bold red. But don’t be intimidated — as bold as the looks were, it will likely be one of the easier trends to adapt into your wardrobe.

12. Layered Textures

Rodarte - Runway RTW - Spring 2016 - New York Fashion WeekSource:Getty

You wouldn’t necessarily think to go with such a mix of textures, as seen on this season’s runway at Rodarte, but the flair for unexpected layering is exactly what you’ll want to embrace this season. So pile on that belt with a blouse under statement looks like a jumpsuit for an exciting (and warm) update.

13. Androgynous

Alexander Wang - Runway - Spring 2016 New York Fashion WeekSource:Getty

Edgy is always the name of the game at Alexander Wang, and this season was no different. Think 90s bad girl with stone-washed skirts, leather jackets and androgynous cuts. So throw on your dark lipliner, whip out that old denim and channel your inner rockstar to get in on this trend.

#NYFWNoir: HARBISON’s SS16 Style Muse May Surprise You  was originally published on