Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Vaquera and Raf Simons Calvin Klein 205W39NYC's Coincidentally Christen an Unlikely Trend // Spring 2019

The kids are not alright. 

12 fatal school shootings have been recorded in America since January 2018. However, there have been 35 shootings in total, according to Wikipedia. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida in February 2018 was one of the deadliest mass shootings in America since 1949. President Trump’s response is to possibly arm teachers. 

Schools are supposed to be ‘safe spaces.’ They are intended to be environments which foster learning, creativity, and development. At Vaquera, designers Patric DiCaprio, Claire Sully, and Bryn Taubensee, staged their show at a children’s school in the Lower East Side. They reflected the idea that schools, both a learning environment and a breeding ground for interpersonal growth, is the birthplace of character, the emergence of one’s sense of self. 

There was a sense of teenage angst, the brooding, petulant strut of the models. The defiant styling. 
Vaquera Photo Credit: voguerunway

“Power Money Fame,” read one t-shirt. With the Kardashians’ prevalence on social media, teenagers are increasingly striving for their slice of the influencer pie with an eye on follower counts, leveraging their following and capitalising on their personal lives. Of course, not all teenagers behave with such narcissistic tendencies but the t-shirt captured the essence of the modern adolescent affliction: the desire to be liked.)

The school paraphernalia was a prominent emblem. Shirts were printed with a Vaquera High School diploma; one model shook pompoms; a bodice was comprised of whistles, and a skirt fashioned entirely from ties. Hemlines cut to there and eyes encased with black shadow, you could imagine the kid’s parents having a conniption at the sight of the obnoxiously inappropriate attire. Other parts were dominated by gender-agnostic clothes which were relevant to contemporary styles and shifting attitudes—although many American schools have yet to embrace policies which cater to non-binary needs.

It closed with a mortarboard and royal blue graduation gown equipped with a voluptuous hoop skirt.   

It was coincidental that Raf Simons, a couple hours later, would also show mortar boards and graduation gowns for Calvin Klein 205W39NYC. (It was presented downstairs in the company’s headquarters on West 39th Street, where the ready-to-wear offering derives its name.) It was a nod to Mike Nicholls’ 1967 film The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, a tale of post-adolescent frustration and seduction.

It took decidedly more grown-up cues than Vaquera when it came to tailoring—there were plenty of options, for prom, the graduation ball, or the boardroom. They came in bright hues with contrasting lapels, an ode to the decade in which the film belonged. 
Calvin Klein 205W39NYC Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Simons always has one eye on commerce and the other on the macabre. Typically, he’s drawn to things like the dark, mysterious fantasies of David Lynch or horror films like Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street. A cinephile, he channels his interests into something sinister. This time it was Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, the 1975 thriller. The soundtrack borrowed partly from John Williams’ two-note alternation from the film’s score; it’s the universal signifier of danger, of looming threat. 

The execution left little to be desired. The Jaws poster was screen-printed on different garments. (H&M are selling similar ones at present. These ones will no doubt add an extra zero to the price tag, and the cK logo.) Knife pleated skirts looked as though they had been bitten by a shark; (vaguely fetishistic) neoprene wetsuits and scuba-gear, with the insides featuring painted patterns, was a recurring motif. 

Perhaps Simons was musing on the way American’s consume nowadays, although he insisted backstage it was a personal collection. In the post-truth era, especially in Trump’s America, subtlety has fallen by the wayside. An image, a snappy description, or a Tweet, is the whole story. There isn’t the need—or desire—for an accompanying 300-word article detailing events anymore. We rely on 240 characters or less to express the toughest of topics, the mightiest of subjects. People favour simplicity over an elaborate argument. It’s a sobering thought but, unlike Jaws, a contemporary reality. 

In the end, one was left wondering, is it always the best option to give the people what they want? 

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