This year’s E!’s Front Five–consisting of designers Jason Wu and Kim Shui, supermodel Lily Aldridge, actress Luna Blaise, and Daily Front Row’s newly-awarded “Breakthrough Model of the Year” Halima Aden–have officially become the most coveted NYFW squad.
The team kicked off Fashion Week by co-hosting a chic soirée with ELLE and IMG in partnership with TRESemmé at The Top of the Standard last Saturday night. The celebrity-filled evening brought together fellow IMG models such as the always-stylish Devon Windsor, Eric Rutherford, Sailor Brinkley-Cook, and stunning sisters Delilah Belle and Amelia Hamlin. Artist Ashley Longshore posed alongside actress Dascha Polanco while singer Cody Simpson walked the red carpet and DJ Ruby Aldridge entertained the crowd.
Later in the week, in the midst of runway shows and collection launches, E! News’ The Rundown host Erin Lim sat down with the Front Five at Spring Studios to discuss the current state of fashion. Each member of this year’s Front Five shared their own stories about finding their place within the industry, ranging from overcoming stereotypes to embracing individuality.
The group’s latest projects–including Wu’s collection with Target and December collaboration with Kohl’s, Shui’s capsule with Urban Outfitters and Fitbit, and Aldridge’s launch of her eponymous all-natural perfume line–all were celebrated as part of the progress of fashion becoming more eco-friendly, body positive, and affordable.
Lim applauded Aden and Blaise for staying true to themselves as both young stars in their respective fields. Aden was the first woman to don a hijab in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and her “firsts” mark the beginning of a new global change of acceptance. “I was the first Muslim homecoming queen at my high school, the first Muslim hijab-wearing girl for Student Senate at my college, and then I was the first Miss Minnesota USA contestant to wear a hijab and burkini, and then I became the first hijab-wearing model thanks to IMG,” Aden said.
“I feel like being the first is also about opening that door so people can rush through it. It’s not about one and done. It’s about one, two, three, four. And now it’s not shocking to see a hijab-wearing model or as a cover star. That’s my goal is to normalize the fact that yes, I wear a hijab and yes, I wear it proudly–it’s my crown, it’s my identity–but I’m also so proud to just be a 21 year old girl who just loves fashion.”
17 year-old actress Blaise uses her social media platform to connect with fans who identified with her previous role on Fresh Off the Boat, especially during the coming out process. “It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Blaise shared. “The response was incredible, for people to tweet me and DM me just to say ‘your character Nicole helped me come out to my parents’ is so impactful. I was very, very honored.”
Similarly, designer Wu spoke of empowering others, particularly with his collaborations with a full size range and lower price point. Wu’s upcoming Kohl’s collection comes in sizes 0 to 22, with all pieces under $100. “It’s not about size or price,” Wu explained. “If you group up to be different, you always feel excluded. As an immigrant, I was [excluded] for a long time in my life and now I feel like I should be able to contribute and enrich other people’s lives by what I do.”
Aldridge also hopes to lead by example, particularly with her passion for sustainability. Her new fragrance line, beginning with debut rose peony musk fragrance Haven, uses recyclable packaging to help limit waste. Aldridge’s efforts towards environmental awareness even stretch to the next generation, with Aldridge raising her daughter to contribute to charities and understand the impact of waste on the planet.
The E! Front Five represents the new faces of fashion and where the industry is hopefully heading. Watch their coverage of New York Fashion Week, available to stream on YouTube.