And so it continues. Save for a few massive outings from Alexander Wang and Givenchy and some surprisingly inventive collections from newcomers like Baja East, the first few days of NYFW are always a bit slower than the days to come. And then WHAM! It’s like your internet browser is getting assaulted Battlestar Galactica premiere style with the endless updates of amazing collections from the best fashion labels that the US has to offer. It feels like it’s been a particularly strong year, all things considered. Here is what I’ve liked. And by extension, what Autre has liked.
Edun designer Danielle Sherman is one of the few designers working that honestly can make the claim that she is applying an eco-conscious mindset to the highest levels of fashion. Other than Vivienne Westwood, there is nary a designer you could think of that is using environmental materials in collections that could be described as anything less than high fashion. It’s commendable, and the SS 2016 collection took cues from dance costumes of the Kuba Kingdom in Central Africa for an overall look that was bright and atmospheric.
The collection was minimal but rich. The models looked sexy as hell, as if the cuts of the garments revealed just the right amount of leg or neckline. Usually I find the models to be sexier in their day-to-day garb, as the collections are more about the designer’s statement than sexual stimulation. But even though the message was clear in Sherman’s collection, there was something assaultingly beautiful about the models’ looks in this show.
Designer Nicola Formichetti is not afraid to bend reasonable expectations of taste and his Spring 2016 collection proved no different. What was different is that he imagined what his art-damaged junkie punks would dress like if these people ever decided to get married. That’s right, there was a serious bridal aspect to this collection.
Formichetti is best known as artistic director for Diesel. While I don’t know if there are any sales figures supporting the notion that Diesel is on the up and up, it has at least given Formichetti the capital to offer some wildly avant-garde fashions under his Nicopanda label. While his work at Diesel usually features hyper-masculine tattoo dudes, his Nicopanda label has hyper-masculine tattoo dudes wearing oversized bomber jackets over a white dress. You tell me which label he has more fun with.
Opening Ceremony’s sample sales are the two times of the year that I can afford to get a taste of the REALLY good stuff (at the last one I managed a Komakino camo oversized bomber jacket marked down from $1500 to $350, bung bung!) so I can’t help but feel indebted to them as a brand. But in reality, Opening Ceremony is so much more than a fashion label. Everything around the brand has become something of a safe place for the New York City creative community. Carol Lim and Huberto Leon are patrons of ALL of the arts, from Hollywood big wigs like Spike Jonze and Jonah Hill, to down and dirty rock n’ roll bands, to the ballet dancers that walked in the show for the Spring 2016 collection. Their influence on New York fashion cannot be understated. The influence for this collection was Frank Lloyd Wright’s daughter, who was a modern dancer, with her dad designing much of the sets that she danced upon. As such, the clothes were elegant, in subtle shades of beige, black and white, but loose and moveable. Subtle choreography allowed the garments to breathe and move, and garment-wise alone it was one of their best collections in seasons. Though I have never been overly enamored with their work at Kenzo, I’m happy to have Carol and Humberto serve as New York creative ambassadors to the world. Their world is tight-knit, but inclusive. Everyone’s allowed in (and with price points that are fairly accessible in terms of high fashion, you don’t need to go broke to sign up). Long live Opening Ceremony.
Let down of the day: Public School
As a young guy working in a creative field living in New York with a taste for high fashion and hip-hop, I’m supposed to be totally enamored with Public School. But I don’t get it. Their menswear collections have always looked like a cleaned up version of Yohji (cleaned up, in my opinion, means boring) and they are definitely still finding their footing in womenswear. Their inspiration for the SS 2016 collection was travel, the dullest of all fashion archetypes. The guys have a crazy knack for tailoring, and one wonders maybe if they’d be better off applying their tactile skills to something that ditched the street influences for something even more inaccessible. I am curious to see what they do for DKNY.
I’ve always thought that in the way that Public School misses the mark for me, Phillip Lim totally nails it every time. He’s now been offering his accessible high-low mash-up for 10 seasons, and to celebrate his SS 2016 collection was presented with mounds and mounds of dirt dumped all over the runway. That dirt was, in fact, created by months of food compost thrown away by the 3.1 team.
The collection wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was totally Phillip Lim. Lim was pretty early on in the whole masculine attire re-conceptualized in a sexy, girlish way. These aren’t tomboyish clothes, even if a guy wouldn’t look particularly out of the ordinary wearing some of them. Sporty materials with floral prints, short shorts, baggy biker jackets, you know the drill. Good stuff.
Man, I feel like I’m just rifling off the designers that one would expect me to rifle off, and I almost didn’t include Jeremy Scott because of this. I mean, between the documentary he has coming out, designing Katy Perry’s Superbowl looks (that surprisingly didn’t take second stage to her ever-famous bust), creative directing the ridiculous VMAs, and Moschino, he is everywhere. But moments like these are for a reason, generally, and Scott has become master of his own B-movie drenched, low culture-infused universe. His SS 2016 collection references Doo-Wop singers from the 1960s up from the extravagantly bright printed dresses to the Bee-Hive hairdos, and the men’s looks looked like a Saved by the Bell high school formal. These clothes will sell, and Jeremy will reign as king.
Can’t tell whether it’s good bad or bad good: Thom Browne
Thom Browne’s SS 2016 menswear collection shown in Paris caught a lot of flack for co-opting oriental culture without using enough Asian models. I can’t tell if there is a similar lack of over-sight going on in his SS 2016 womenswear collection. The models looked freakish, to be sure, with their black lipstick pursed into a small circle in the middle of their faces and hair pulled into demon horns sticking straight to the sky, but the clothes were interesting. As usual, there were a lot of suits, but there was crazy patchwork going on and wild prints. Browne has always made formalwear subversive and, yes, cool. He’s a fucking genius, yes. I just never know what to make of that genius. Maybe that’s the point.
Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta, of the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, are a fashion label seemingly tailor made for us at Autre. Along with kindred brands like Gypsy Sport, Vejas, and a juggernaut like Hood By Air, Eckhaus Latta is churning out fashion that serves as a kind of conceptual art project just as much as it does a clothing manufacture. As a reaction to the fashion vanguard, or maybe not, there was no historical context to this collection. There was only an emotion: horniness.
These clothes, while minimal and chic, were racy. Elbows, thighs, knees, hips and other skin areas were properly displayed. And with Autre friends like Alexandra Marzella, Dev Hynes, Bjaarne Melgaard, and Julianna Huxtable, walking in the show, this was a sure thing to make the list. We love this brand.
Kate and Laura Mulleavy put on their best Rodarte show in seasons for the brand’s 2016 collection, equally informed by Emily Dickinson's poetry and Electric Light Orchestra's prog pop cheese (disclaimer, I love ELO).
The clothes looked really spectacular, to the point where they are hard to write about. But basically, if I saw a woman dressed like the models in this show, I’d be in love with her. Glam rock sparkles set to neon light, the cheesiness of the materials lent itself to an elevated romance. Rodarte is a master at taking things that could be cheesy, and yet comes off as not cheesy at all. Miguel was at the show, and his style could be read as Rodarte man if it existed: psychedelically conceptualized effortlessness.
Adam Lehrer is a writer, journalist, and art and fashion critic based in New York City. On top of being Autre’s fashion and art correspondent, he is also a regular contributor to Forbes Magazine. His unique interests in punk, hip hop, skateboarding and subculture have given him a distinctive, discerning eye and voice in the world of culture, et al. Oh, and he also loves The Sopranos. Follow him on Instagram: @adam102287
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