Sunday, February 14, 2016

New York Fashion Week // Day 5 //

A lyric from the Eurythmics song ‘Beethoven (I Love to Listen To)’ was printed on the press releases at the Tome show this morning. “When I said I wanted a new mink coat. I was just thinking about something sleek to wrap around my tender throat,” Annie Lennox chimes. The Tome boys created both, faux-fur of course, options. There was a large jacket worn off the shoulder, a large sleeveless cardigan and a giant pelt. In contrast to this, not fit for cold weather were the lace-up tops with sheer sleeves or a shirt with an eye motif worn on its own. Needless to say, those pieces were stunning. Bearing 80s reference points, the collection touched on a few different ideas pertaining to the epoch, such as party dressing in an era past with experimentalism galore.

Ramon Martin and Ryan Lobo’s label is five years old later this year and the Australian’s have developed an ultra-feminine wearable aesthetic. Alchemists at heart, the duo managed to put unique spins on existing ideas by transforming them into things ever so desirable yet saleable. The Tome woman clearly values the idiosyncrasies and intriguing additions to her wardrobe. As it is Valentine’s Day, a single rose was placed on every seat in the Skylight at Moynihan Station. Customer appreciation day.

Continuing the St. Valentine’s Day festivities, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne’s Public School collection opened with a vibrant fuchsia, harmful to the yes, paired with a fiery red and black brushstroke shirtdress. There was black and then some more pink and vermilion, some more black and then a final dosage of shocking pink before the collection spiralled into a tiring normcore fest, synonymous with the label. I’ve never been taken by a Public School collection. The hype surrounding the brand was short-lived and puzzling to begin with. Not that exciting street wear from a New York design duo. The excitement did stem from the fact that they were progressive a few years ago, a shining light in the commercial landscape that New York Fashion Week had become associated with. Nowadays they’ve been easily overshadowed by the proliferation of smarter, more interesting street wear labels. There clothes, I will not deny, can look very nice but a lot of things today were sloppy. A knock on effect from last season’s distasteful Vetements collection that shockingly garnered rave reviews. Oversized gym shorts, jeans and long cardigans, a sloppily worn cape were shown. There is a large customer base out there for this, I reckon. Positive, or at least sufficient, sales indicate that. There is an element of cool factor here—definitely something like that—but this was largely forgettable. Long enough I’ve been waiting for an impactful Public School show. Those beautiful pinks at the start, those were truly fantastic.

Admittedly, I’m not the biggest art enthusiast. I like certain artists but only certain types of art appeal to me. Abstract art particularly appeals to me. The runway at Derek Lam’s show, as well as a few pieces in the collection seemed to bear influence from above movement. The catwalk was sharply sectioned into blue, navy, red and white sections. The cut of the clothes and op-art printing were also inspired by this. Most prominently, Amilna Estevão and Bhumika Arora wore black and white dresses, respectively, with the opposite colour scribbled across the body. The strong points in this collection lay here.

As with every Derek Lam show, there was an excessive amount for the commercial appetite of buyers in the audience. Clean, feminine silhouettes perfectly labelled as ‘workwear chic’ is what he is known for. Time and time again he delivers exceptionally. At what point though does it get old? Ask his customer, but I can tell you exactly what she’d say: never, because there’s always a new point of intrigue in his collections. As a critic, however, my response would be that bit more negative. The collections are satisfactory but not revolutionary, it’s more or less the same in any given season but it still has this unmistakable allure about it.

The Hood by Air show during NYFW is always the most sought after show. In a feature for Man Repeller last season, fashion publicist Gaby Katz of PR Consulting mentioned the amount of gatecrashes elbowing to get a chance of seeing the show. The fashion crowd too has caught the bug. Foundation: hype - what a big surprise. Katz also comments on designer Shayne Oliver “pushing the limit on what fashion is.” He presents womenswear alongside menswear, men in womenswear and vice versa. There is always a message, usually political—anti-establishment, detainment, etc. This season, the clothes would appear it’s being problematic. Listen to a bodysuit that simply read, ‘bitch.’ What is problematic about this label is that the translation of current affairs is a muddle of ideas, executed in a haphazard way that provides for a visceral and jarring viewing experience. The clothes are oversized, they’re ugly and beautiful simultaneously, there’s amazing furs and great accessories, but for all of this there are horrible trousers, misshapen puff jackets and more. One fur jacket was encased in layers of red saran wrap. Containment. Oliver can’t be tamed, and though I disliked the collection, I love seeing this. Defying against the fashion system—on the catwalk anyway—in favour of provoking mixed reactions through a nonconformist approach. Shayne Oliver’s collections for the brand don’t instigate a positive reaction from me. I love the mens commercial output, some of which is reasonably priced, but is considerably different from what is shown on the runway. That, I think, speaks volumes.

Last season’s Prabal Gurung was critically lauded despite being numbingly mundane. It was inspired by his native Nepal, and the vibrant colours associated with it. For fall it was Nepal again, by way of a luxurious Upper East Side apartment. The New York laters cater to this specific ‘ladies-who-lunch’ customer. There is a plethora of labels to cater to this market, so she isn’t starved of options. Unlike other designers, Prabal made some attempt at enlivening his collection. A knit sweater dress with side splits and grey weaving or a feather printed fur coat were two innovative pieces.

Problematic was the word I used for Hood by Air. It can also lend itself to labels like Prabal Gurung, Jason Wu, Derek Lam and more. Everything looks great, but we’ve seen a lot of it before. Interspersed here were flavours of Proenza Schouler. Gurung has never been one to be influenced by his contemporaries. Unlike other designers, he has managed to put a positive spin on it. A shoulder-exposing silk dress with feather motifs, a slashed hemline and a thigh-bearing cutout and a red asymmetric button up dress were beautiful, and had a searing turn on the red carpet. What more could you ask for?


All in all, there was a darkness in the collection, both in the presentation and the execution. Nepal, dear to Gurung’s heart, suffered a shattering blow last year with the catastrophic earthquakes that hit the country. Around two million people were left homeless, 21,000 were left injured and 8,000 died. The effects of which are still being felt in the country today. It’s heartwarming to see a native so focused on bettering the standard of living in his country—he raised over $600,000 for his earthquake relief. This ode to Nepal was a pleasant, if not forgettable affair. One thing’s for sure, there were some wonderful clothes on the runway here. 

It’s funny how on day 5 of New York Fashion Week you can pluck some trends already. The off-the-shoulder jacket, the metallic jacket and a long cardigan are a litany of trends that I’ve picked up on over the first few days. Carol Lim and Humberto Leon’s Opening Ceremony featured all the above in their collection. Switching back to catwalk show format after last season’s performance art experience, the duo were, in true fashion industry style, looking to the future. But the future they were looking to was the one we get a glimpse of in the movies. The ones that neofuturistic concept artist, Syd Mead has created for the likes of Tron and Blade Runner. Floating, silver balloon cars centred the catwalk and models traipsed around the orange carpets in outerwear fit for current times or for the future.

Metallic crocodile reminiscent of velour was styled with matching, thigh high boots. An intergalactic temptress anyone? The boots notably had the ‘Vetements effect.’ But the clothes, commercial in their practice, spoke louder than the Paris collective could ever. Futuristic cityscapes were printed on slightly oversized sweaters which will undoubtedly be bestsellers globally come September. Preposterously, the French brand sold $1,400 denims. Opening Ceremony’s offering, a fraction of the price will buy you an even nicer, tailored pair of jeans.

Playing to their strengths, clinquant sequin dresses to the runway, as well as molecule-esqe prints, fluorescent hues in various prints. Printing, in general, is associated with these revered whizzes. Lim and Leon find the balance between the borderline unwearable and easy pieces that makes their collections one of the most desired.
All images voguerunway.com

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