From coast to coast, models hit the Fashion Week runways, but it wasn't only about the clothes

Models walk the runway during the Cushnie et Ochs show at New York Fashion Week on Feb. 10, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

New York Fashion Week was a more muted affair this season, as heavy snowfalls kept many showgoers at bay, and several major designers moved their presentations to the West Coast.

Yet for some who stuck with tradition, the fall collections were a way for the fashion set to express their political views after the election. Statements ranged from reminding attendees that "people are people" and sending messages of female empowerment to calling for a revolution.

"This is a moment when the rights I took for granted sadly are being threatened," Michelle Smith said before showing the new collection for her line, Milly. She named the collection "Fractured." "It's important to use our voices now in all sorts of different ways."

The shows also marked the third season of "see now, wear now," with designers taking different approaches to the model. Rebecca Minkoff and Tommy Hilfiger used their runways to show their spring lineups, while Kate Spade opted for a hybrid model. The affordable luxury brand showcased its fall styles for press and buyers, and live streamed an edited version of its spring collection to consumers.

"You have to do your own thing and you have to do what's right for your customers and the people who you want to work with," Kate Spade's chief creative officer Deborah Lloyd said.

See below for more highlights from New York Fashion Week.

Christian Siriano

A model walks the runway during the Christian Siriano fashion show at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on Feb. 11, 2017.
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Christian Siriano, who shot to fame after being crowned a winner on "Project Runway," traveled to Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park for his collection.

"I just wanted it to feel like you were taken away," Siriano said ahead of his show, held at Manhattan's iconic Plaza Hotel. "When I was there, I felt like I was in a dream. I felt like I was in a different place, and I really wanted to have everyone feel that today."

"Take your 20 minutes to just decompress life and look at beautiful things," he said.

Christian Siriano

Models walk the runway during the Christian Siriano fashion show at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on Feb. 11, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Not one to shy away from challenging the status quo, Siriano's runway featured women of different colors and sizes. The designer also paired one of his looks with a shirt that read "People Are People," and closed his show to the '80s Depeche Mode song by that title.

Cushnie et Ochs

Models walk the runway during the Cushnie et Ochs show at New York Fashion Week on Feb. 10, 2017.
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Female design duo Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs created a fall collection that was both powerful and sensual. Dresses and jumpsuits featured the pair's famous cutouts and plunging necklines, and models made their final walk down the runway to the tune of Madame Gandhi's "The Future Is Female."

Kate Spade

Kate Spade Chief Creative Officer Deborah Lloyd (C) poses with models wearing the label's Fall 2017 collection at the Russian Tea Room on February 10, 2017, in New York City.
Cindy Ord | Getty Images for kate spade

Kate Spade's Deborah Lloyd used the multilevel Russian Tea Room to take visitors on a tour through time and geographies. Showgoers entered the Midtown Manhattan venue on the ground floor, where they were greeted with mimosas and chocolate-covered cherries.

After climbing the stairs, they entered into another room featuring the fall collection, inspired by 1920s Paris. After going up another flight, fashionistas were back in Morocco, which served as the base for the design house's spring collection — camel-shaped bag included.

"It's showcasing both, so we have what's just arriving in stores, but also we have what's to come," Lloyd said.

Rebecca Minkoff

Models walk the runway at Rebecca Minkoff'’s Spring 2017 fashion show at The Grove in Los Angeles on February 4, 2017.
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Rebecca Minkoff's cult following has come to expect a spectacle from her fashion shows — and the designer did not disappoint.

Moving Minkoff's outing to Los Angeles for spring, models walked along the famous trolly line at The Grove shopping center. In tandem with the show, Minkoff opened a pop-up shop at the center that will stay open through February. Showgoers also had the chance to attend a yoga class and get manicures.

Tommy Hilfiger

Models including Hailey Baldwin (L) and Bella Hadid (2R) at the Tommy Hilfiger Spring 2017 Fashion Show on the boardwalk in Venice Beach, Calif., February 8, 2017.
Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

Tommy Hilfiger joined Minkoff on the West Coast, in his second season of "see now, wear now." The spring collection was inspired by California's laid-back attitude, which was carried through via the Venice Beach venue. The designer once again showed his collection amid a carnival atmosphere, featuring rides and a performance by Fergie.

Banana Republic

Olivia Palermo, Banana Republic's global style ambassador, made an appearance at the brand's SoHo store on Feb. 9, 2017 as part of New York Fashion Week.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Like Kate Spade, Banana Republic took a different approach to Fashion Week. Instead of showing a season ahead as it's done in the past, the Gap-owned brand held a series of pop-up events in its New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco stores that encouraged consumers to shop the spring styles currently available.

"It's a natural evolution for the brand," the company said in a statement.

The New York City event featured a guest appearance from global style ambassador Olivia Palermo, who first teamed up with the brand last season. Next up, Palermo and Banana Republic will design a fall capsule collection together, which they'll show at the next New York Fashion Week in September.

Calvin Klein

Models walk the runway at the Calvin Klein show during New York Fashion Week on Feb. 10, 2017.
Catwalking | Getty Images

Showing its first collection under the creative direction of Dior alumnus Raf Simons, Calvin Klein fused the brand's 1968 American roots with America today.

"It's the future, the past, Art Deco, the city, the American West … all of these things and none of these things," Simons said in the show's notes. "Not one era, not one thing, not one look. It is the coming together of different characters and different individuals, just like America itself. It is the unique beauty and emotion of America."

Jenny Packham

Models walk in the finale at the Jenny Packham show during New York Fashion Week on Feb. 12, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Jenny Packham's fall outing featured the sorts of beautiful tulle and silk gowns that have made her designs regulars on the red carpet. (Viola Davis donned one of her dresses for the BAFTA awards the same day as Packham's show.)

But in a post-Brexit world, the U.K. designer put more of an edge into her collection, giving a cheeky nod to things stereotypically associated with being British.

"It's actually got quite a lot of nice, sort of cliche ideas about Britishness, like tartans and corgis and pearls," Packham said backstage.


Models pose at the Thakoon presentation during New York Fashion Week on Feb. 9, 2017.
Victor Virgile | Gamma-Raph | Getty Images

"Because of the shift in the business model it doesn't make sense for us to just do a typical runway format anymore," Thakoon Panichgul said about his spring outing.

Instead of holding a traditional runway show, Panichgul held an intimate presentation focused on 10 spring looks. The designs were available immediately after, and represent the first of about six deliveries of spring product into the label's stores. Panichgul drew inspiration from the tumultuous nature of spring, starting with the trench coat as his base.

"You have thunderstorms, you have a torrential downpour, you have clouds … you have bursts of sun, you have blooms," Panichgul said. "For me, I wanted to put that in the context of the Thakoon girl."

Erin Fetherston

Models walk the runway during the Erin Fetherston show at New York Fashion Week on Feb. 9, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

California-born designer Erin Fetherston channeled an easy, effortless vibe for fall, inspired by a romantic traveler with a bohemian spirit.

"[She] is traveling around the world collecting special items from her adventures and kind of bringing it all together in her personal style, Fetherston said.

The lineup featured beautiful prints and velvet, but for Fetherston, there was one standout.

"I'm kind of dying for the all-over fringe," she said.


Models walk the runway at the Lacoste show during New York Fashion Week on Feb. 11, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

The heroes of aviation and space age pioneers served as the crux for Lacoste's fall collection, held on a set that resembled the red planet.

Designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista used the idea of an astronaut's suit as the starting point for his show, its last in New York City for the time being. The French brand will head to Paris next season to celebrate its 85th birthday.

Tadashi Shoji

Models walk the runway at the Tadashi Shoji show during New York Fashion Week on Feb. 9, 2017.
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Tadashi Shoji's woman effervesced a more sensual energy this season, as she traveled from London and Paris to Berlin and Japan. Shoji called his fall collection a "liberating" moment, showing extravagant coats, "gender-bending stripes," and "sensuous" velvet gowns.

"A dark nightclub can transform the spirit," the designer said in his show notes.

Nicole Miller

A model walks the runway at the Nicole Miller show during New York Fashion Week on Feb. 10, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

"It's a downtown girl who ends up at the fortune teller and gets her tarot cards read, and it sets the stage for the rest of her day," Nicole Miller said about her fall collection, labeled "Gypsy Grunge."

The no-frills set echoed that vibe, with the designer's name scrawled out in black graffiti print.

Backstage at Nicole Miller

A model poses backstage before the Nicole Miller show during New York Fashion Week on Feb. 10, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

A model finishes getting her hair and makeup done backstage before the Nicole Miller show. The designer described the dark eye shadow as "morning-after makeup."


A model walks the runway at the Milly show during New York Fashion Week on Feb. 10, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Michelle Smith's collection took a darker turn for fall, featuring slashed fabrics and exposed skin. Inspired by her feelings after the presidential election, it was a decided turn from Smith's typical bright designs.

"Normally I'm [cheery and optimistic], but it's not the way I feel right now," Smith said.

Still, the designer wasn't void of optimism, noting the positivity that comes "when you can create something you're proud of … even if it's from a fractured place."

"It's building back and mending and making yourself strong again," she said.


Models walk the runway during the Desigual show at New York Fashion Week on Feb. 9, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

The Spanish label drew inspiration from the '60s, '70s and '80s, but interpreted in the 21st century. The collection mixed together different fabrics and embroideries, juxtaposed old against new, and paired casual looks with nightwear.

It's "looking at life from a mixture and from diversity," Daniel Perez, brand communications director, said backstage.

Nicholas K

A model walks the runway during the Nicholas K show at New York Fashion week on Feb. 9, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Nicholas K's collections always have an air of toughness. But this season's show teetered on the edge of anarchy, as models walked to a live hip-hop soundtrack calling for a revolution. Looks were accessorized with nose rings and an oversize gold hoop earring.

Several of the models wore berets reminiscent of those worn by the Black Panthers, a militant group that defended minorities during the civil rights movement.

"The '90s was a decade promising communal diversity and unity," the designers said in their show notes, attributing the first step in that change to Nelson Mandela's release from prison. "Recent events seem to unravel this progress, and it's now relevant to revisit the promise of the '90s."

Backstage at Nicholas K

A model gets her makeup done backstage before the Nicholas K show during New York Fashion Week on Feb. 9, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Hair and makeup before a runway walk at the Nicholas K show.

Custo Barcelona

Models walk the runway at the Custo Barcelona show during New York Fashion Week on Feb. 12, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Custo Dalmau's fall collection was an "ode to individuality." The Spanish designer's bold creations incorporated metallic fabrics, iridescent lame and plenty of glitter, giving off a futuristic vibe.

Son Jung Wan

A model walks the runway during the Son Jung Wan fashion show at New York Fashion Week on Feb. 11, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Exaggerated silhouettes and bold colors defined Son Jung Wan's fall collection, inspired by '80s fashion. The designer mixed together handcrafted knits, velvet and furs to create a "palpable sense of drama."