Text by Adam Lehrer
Fashion Week gets old fast. When you start doing this whole thing, you get this false sense of importance centered around the fact that you are getting invited to shows by designers you admire (or don’t admire, but nice gesture either way). But then you realize that you have to run around, often in the rain, from show to show, stand in lines way to long while the show gets pushed back, find terrible vantage points to shoot mediocre photos, and spend way too much money on Starbucks to charge up and upload and email your work. After a couple days, it sucks. Not even the partying makes it better (it’s fucking New York, we don’t need fashion week to party).
But then, you just have one of those magical fashion moments, when a presentation reminds you of why you became interested in the concept of fashion beyond the shit you wear. For New York Fashion Week: Men’s, that presentation was Greg Lauren.
No one knew what was coming when they walked into the Chelsea warehouse to find the 1920s-themed magical playhouse that was the Greg Lauren FW 2016 presentation. There was a boxing ring where models shadowboxed wearing beautifully distressed hoodies and sweats. There were the urban dandies, wearing thrashed suits. There were Baja East references. The whole thing was soundtracked to Jimi Hendrix’s Who Knows blasting through the speakers. It was exhilarating.
Greg Lauren (yes nephew of Ralph), a Princeton trained fine artist, began working in fashion after presenting an exhibition with garments. He approaches fashion much in the same way he approached art: concept first. “All my work starts with ideas and questions that I want to ask, I think about it no differently than I did when I was a painter,” said Lauren while being swarmed by media, friends, and family. “I’m then trying to answer those ideas with clothing.”
Lauren was looking towards the various archetypes of the male outsider, and placing the outsider in an antiquated setting: boxers, artists, Baja East, dandies and more. But the clothes were utterly fantastic. While exorbitantly expensive, Lauren’s garments look and feel like they are warranting the price tags. Everything, from suit to hoodie, from tweed to terrybone, is magnificently thrashed, blown out, and treated beyond recognition. The footwear, from destroyed work boots to adidas snowboarding boots, looked perfect in the setting. The shapes were fascinating, with tweed suits dropping crotches and letting shoulders hang. Silhouette was on Lauren’s mind above all else with this collection: “I really wanted to incorporate the shapes with the Californian lifestyle that I’ve been living, a laidback artsy lifestyle, and reinterpret that in silhouettes.”
One could certainly argue that, as an heir to the largest clothing corporation in New York, Lauren has the freedom to experiment with concept and garments more than most designers trying to start brands here. But so what? New York needs art in its fashion, and never in my life have I experienced what was ostensibly a clothing presentation a visceral experience so alive.
Click here to see more from this collection.