While many designers have been trying to figure out where they stand on the whole "see now, buy now" debacle — do we show in-season, or just introduce a capsule of totally shoppable pieces, or stick to the norm? — Serena Williams has it all figured out. Well, she's had it figured out since 2009, when she first started working with HSN. Whenever the athlete launches a new collection, it becomes immediately shoppable online and is simultaneously watched on the small screen in millions of homes. Williams even reversed the typical order of the whole immediate commerce conversation. When she brought her Signature Statement collection to New York Fashion Week , first in 2014, then again last September (to an audience that included Drake and Anna Wintour, nonetheless), she was basically doing "buy now" runway shows before the whole concept was everywhere. On Monday, Williams debuted her fall '16 collection for HSN at Kia STYLE360, as well as a jewelry collaboration with Diamonds Unleashed, which — you guessed it! — is already available to purchase. Williams' latest range was perhaps the coziest we've seen this season: reversible faux-shearling coats, ribbed knits, and heathered maxi cardigans. Backstage, Williams told Refinery29 that comfort is a big consideration when she's designing and styling herself. "I think about confidence, and what I feel good in," she said of how she typically puts an outfit together.
For fall '16, there was a lot of texture; fabrics were a big inspiration this time around, apparently. "We really wanted to use nice, comfortable fabrics that worked well together," Williams said, which involved "lots of shearlings, lots of faux furs," with the end goal being "really high-end comfort." There's more of a focus on comfort in the fashion industry these days, thanks to the rise of athleisure — a trend Williams thinks is "amazing." However, don't expect too much of it in her Signature Statement collection: "I love ready-to-wear and incorporating different types of fabrics into my palettes and my silhouettes, but I like to keep my collection a little more clean," she told us. (Don't worry, folks — her Nike collection is here for all your sweatier pursuits.)
Williams has some pretty powerful names in her court: Anna Wintour arrived expectedly early, and was seated between Ciara and Venus Williams in the front row. (Also in attendance: Iris Apfel; Lala Anthony; and Olympians Natasha Hastings, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Sanya Richards-Ross, Nia Ali, and Allyson Felix.) Wintour has long been a supporter of Williams (some Signature Statement purchases even come with a one-year subscription to Vogue). The powerful editor not only attends all of Williams' NYFW shows, but in the past, she's also helped the athlete edit down and tweak the pieces that make it on the runway. "I have so much respect for her," Williams told us of having Wintour's support. "She’s always asking what she can do to help with the show." The price point of the star athlete's HSN line ranges from $29.90 for accessories to $699.90 for eveningwear (such as plunging jumpsuits with feather shawls and black lace gowns). There's another consideration in the "see now, buy now" debacle, too: If the price range of the product is too high, does it really matter if you put it on shelves right after a show versus waiting for a later delivery? Williams appears to have figured that answer out by having such a wide range and pairing with a retailer with very wide exposure — 95 million households tune in to HSN every day, per the company.
For Williams, fashion, and her fall '16 range in particular, are about empowerment. "If you think about it, fashion is everyday — you wake up and you have to wear something," she told us. "Everything has to do with design: Even when you’re driving, you’re driving on roads that are designed." (A spoken word poem that provided a soundtrack to the runway, and was Beyoncé-approved, echoed this sentiment of finding confidence through fashion.) You can shop Williams' fall '16 runway collection (and rewatch the show) right now — and don't be surprised if you find yourself twinning with Ciara and Lala in the near future.