[FASHION REVIEW] London Fashion Week Mens FW17 Roundup

text by Adam Lehrer

London Fashion Week Men’s, formerly London Collections Men’s aka LCM, was reenergized for the Fall-Winter 2017 season. Chalk it up to Brexit or Trump or all the existential uncertainty that arises in the wake of political devastation, designers are innovating once more. I was happy to see fashion designers starting to mess around with silhouettes again, no longer content to ape the oversized everything innovations of Demna Gvasalia; the London collections featured a plethora of big, small, skinny, baggy, tailored, sharp, clean, jagged, and everything in between set of shapes. There was less emphasis on sportswear and streetwear, with designers even finding new life and new ideas in the most traditional of menswear garb: the shirt, tie and trousers look. The message seemed to be that the creative class needs to be taken seriously, but we must also find ways to maintain our individuality in this conservative coup. Designers seamlessly blended the bizarre with the traditional, the maximal with the minimal, and the suit with the sporty.

Martine Rose Fall-Winter 2017

British menswear designer Martine Rose has had a subtle but profound impact on the introduction of underground sub-cultures to the palette of menswear design over the last 10 years. She has referenced the style and sexuality of Robert Mapplethorpe, the poetic genius and masculinity of The Fall’s Mark E. Smith, and the liberated glory of ‘90s ravers in her own collections, located the sub-cultural importance of workwear labels like CAT and Timberland in collaborations, worked extensively with the now defunct streetwear/music project Been Trill, and even consulted on Demna Gvasalia’s now iconic Balenciaga menswear debut. The Balenciaga consultancy manifested slightly in Martine Rose’s Fall-Winter 2017 menswear presentation, the designer’s first catwalk since 2013 and her first to heavily feature tailoring (right down to the neck tie). Rose has always had an ability to slightly alter staple menswear pieces to hint at punk undertones and sexual subversion. The collection dealt with everyday workers: the bus driver, the real estate agent, the banker, and the office worker among them. The collection’s central question was, “How does a man hold on to his individuality when entering the professional world?” That is why this collection connected so deeply. That is the most resonant clothing concept in the modern world. Every day, we have to dress in accordance with our institutions’ dress laws while holding onto icons of our selves. The collection offered simple shirt and tie looks in shiny and ostentatious silks and beautiful/ugly colors of orange and baby blue. The tailored jackets clung loose to the frames of the models, but not to the point of making a statement, seemingly more concerned with nonchalance and comfort. The nylon jackets and coats in the collection often concealed the restrictive office wear in youthful nylons, sometimes with the sleeves hanging off the shoulders nearly unattached. The collection was exceedingly sensible. I’d wear just about all of it. This is how you conform to standards without losing you sense of identity.

Craig Green Fall-Winter 2017

As brands grow and gain success, it is typical for them to start introducing more palatable and accessible elements to their collections. These are the products that can be repurposed and resold each season: Vetements and its now staple reassembled jeans, Raf Simons and his Adidas Stan Smith sneakers, Hood By Air and its branded t-shirts. Craig Green’s brand is undeniably growing; selling like crazy and earning Green a CFDA award for menswear design in the process. But almost like noise rock band Royal Trux did by signing to Virgin Records in the ‘90s and using the major label money to create highly iconoclastic and idiosyncratic rock records, Green has been using the freedom success has brought him to introduce more ideas, concepts and radical aesthetic gestures into his brand. In my opinion, his Fall-Winter 2017 collection is the best damn collection he’s had so far. Introducing heavy tweeds, Green used the durable fabric for severe all-over looks: statuesque jackets with ropes tied around the waist, wide leg trousers, scarves coiling around the neck, and a waist piece that could possibly be a bag, a cape or both. See, with Green fashion is about subverting the “form follows function” rule. For Green, form IS the function. Everything is designed for multiple uses and styles of wear, and the clothing takes on the form of its very purpose. That is at the essence of Green’s avant-garde sculpture. Padded satin looks (also head to toe) are topped off by a vest with belts wrapping around it, allowing the vest to take on a mass of potential ways to wear it. The most remembered looks of the collection will undeniably be the embroidered cloaks that resembled a monk wearing ornamental Korean carpets as religious garb.


Vivienne Westwood Fall-Winter 2017

Ever the political firebrand, Vivienne Westwood used her Fall-Winter 2017 collection, Westwood’s first show on the menswear schedule comprising both menswear and womenswear lines, to further illuminate on the imminent disaster of global warming and corporate culture’s blatant disregard for it. Though it’s not what draws me to Westwood’s output, I firmly disagree with people questioning Westwood’s environmental intentions. Like any creative discipline, fashion can’t alter the political landscape so much as it can provide a conduit for awareness. Pushing awareness is beyond reproach. It’s a good thing to do. But at the end of the day, activism isn’t going to convince me or anyone else to buy any clothes, and Westwood’s collections for a few years seem to have missed the mark. But this collection hit the mark. Like Vivienne’s best output, it balanced the torn and tied together messiness that she got known for alongside some fantastic, wearable, and excellent quality traditional pieces. For every see through sweater dress was a sensible tailored double breasted blazer (made rocker cool with extensive finger rings and black leather boots). Women in baggy plaid suits, embroidered nutcracker jackets, stitched together pants and shirts, and abstract crowns made this a decidedly classic Westwood collection polished with a Victorian sheen. I quite liked the all-over camel early 20th century stage coach looks of a cashmere cape over a three piece suit styled with polished leather boots. the 50th look in the show, a patchwork crewneck sweatshirt with matching pants and black boots, is a rare runway look that I would wear head to toe. Daily. For years.


Kiko Kostadinov Fall-Winter 2017

Kiko Kostadinov is a rare designer on the London circuit. Instead of finding his inspiration in raves and clubs and sub-cultures, Kostadinov seeks to elevate uniform garb. His brand is for men that work, technicians and craftsman if you will. But instead of plumbers and custodians, Kostadinov seeks to give the comfort of uniformity to the world’s painters, sculptors, photographers, jazz musicians, and poets. There are very few designers elevating simplistic and clean silhouettes like Kostadinov is. The FW 2017 collection was minimal and expensive. Military sweaters in jet black came with wide legged wool trousers fitted with a tool belt, double breasted coats clung tight to the body refined and polished to a sheen, and jumpsuits were replete with multiple pockets in light wool fabric. Kostadinov discusses his desire to create a classless vision in his collection. Let’s face it, that is impossible. His high fashion price points ensure that working class people will never wear his clothes. But he is designing clothes that can be work through the bulk of life. Can’t wait to see the work Kiko does as creative director for Mackintosh coats.


JW Anderson Fall-Winter 2017

It gets hard writing about designers as they achieve stratospheric success. JW Anderson is certainly one such designer with his domination of CFDA womenswear and menswear awards and not to mention his total rebranding of Loewe that resulted in the brand becoming as associated with conceptual architecture and poetic appropriation as heritage Spanish luxury under his reign as creative director. But his collections are exciting no doubt, and he benefits from being able to tap into that “of the moment” resonance in his work. As per usual, the knits were beautiful and bountiful and the flares were wide and fey. But there was something palatably arcane within the collection, perhaps inspired by contemporary culture swaying back towards the bad ol’ days? Anderson also has a knack for finding the most overdone menswear looks and repurposing them for a taste of the uncanny. The 12th look in the show was sans description the minimal skinhead look: bomber, button down, and jeans. The kind of look that Raf made high fashion almost 20 years ago and Jerry Lorenzo made look tired and lazy with his overpriced philistine brand Fear of God. But JW makes his satin bomber fitted and sharp and adorns it with knit graphic patches and pairs it with a pair of jeans beautifully hand painted with a heaping of religious imagery and then decides the look works best with flip flops that look like flippers. And you know what? He was right.



Xander Zhou Fall-Winter 2017

Beijing-based designer Xander Zhou’s talent for utterly fucking with menswear proportions and silhouettes is vastly underrated. Like many designers of his age group, he wears his Raf Simons influence rather proudly and like the great Belgian has an obsession with youth culture that informs his designs. But Zhou’s collections are wild, dirty, and untamed in a way that Simons and his fellow intellectual Belgian designers aren’t. His Fall-Winter 2017 collection was his best outing yet, displaying his seamless hybrid of luxury and streetwear and drawing in all sorts of outer limits influences. Zhou displayed a fetish for misbehaved prep school boys in his first couple looks: models wore cropped vests over cropped button downs with ties resembling trash bags worn over the shoulder (dress codes can be fun when you know how to fuck with them). Those tailored looks continued with the addition of leather duster coats (the ones favored by Robert Mapplethorpe who is having a major fashion reincarnation this year). But Zhou’s true nastiness lies in his disregard for menswear rules. The double breasted blazer is turned into a biker dude leather daddy jacket. Denim jackets are elongated and contorted into deconstructed overcoats. The workman staple that is the jumpsuit is trimmed at the waist and given a day-goo dye job and another connotation rises to the surface. Zhou has eluded the press raves that so many of his contemporaries on the London schedule are lavished with on a regular basis. That needs to change; his clothes look like nothing else out there at the moment. That’s not easy in this hyper-saturated market.



A-Cold-Wall Fall-Winter 2017

I’ve been thoroughly taken with British designer Samuel Ross’ brand A-Cold-Wall since first coming into contact with it a couple years ago mindlessly browsing the Hypebeast website (a bad habit I’m happy so say I’m fully detoxed from). The brand functions as a conceptual art project cum streetwear brand from which Ross examines the disparities between working class culture and high fashion. Using a minimalist color palette informed by the dreary buildings and walls of low income London neighborhoods, Ross has introduced a surprisingly striking body of products ranging from French terry graphic hoodies to Nylon ponchos to tote bags. It’d be easy to dismiss an elevation of working class garb as well, a dismissal, but Ross has located something beautiful and pure in this style of dress. His Fall-Winter 2017 presentation was his first show using a cat walk. Ross celebrated the occasion by stepping well outside his comfort zone presenting both men’s and women’s collections, adding tailoring into the mix, and introducing some bold fabric pairings. Collection stand-outs included a technical satin overcoat, a wool sweatsuit, a leather t-shirt paired with wide legged trousers, and a white mesh suit and the whole collection was paired with Ross’ simplistic Nike Air Force 1 collaboration. 


Cottweiler Fall-Winter 2017

The design duo of Matthew Dainty and Ben Cottrell have been hard at work, introducing this Fall-Winter 2017 collection just days before their much anticipated collaborative line with Reebok debuted at Pitti Uomo. The conceptual sportswear brand seems to be evolving past its minimalist beginning into something more vibrant, ostentatious, and showy. Cottweiler has always been about the fetishization of sportswear and the duo nailed its approach in its early seasons. Now, they are embellishing that fetishization. Cottrell cited an “apocalyptic” vibe to this collection but honestly, that tag could apply to just about anything and has become a near unbearable fashion design cliche. What I saw in this collection was flash. The satin tracksuits were richer in color, the sports designs were over-emphasized (a sleeping bag worn as a cape, for instance), and the accessories were plentiful (electronic navel piercings and handblown UV glass pendants). Cottweiler obsesses over dual nature of sportswear: good for playing sports, better for dancing your nut off. This was the comfortable, breathable club wear that a luxury price tag offers.
 


MAN Show (Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, Feng Chen Wang, and Per Götesson Fall-Winter 2017)

Must make mention of another excellent Top Man sponsored MAN Show event that demonstrated the talents of three designers, all of whom have shown collections at the event previously. All three collections demonstrated an escalation in the clarity of the participating designers’ visions. All three designers fall firmly into the category of avant-garde fashion and occasionally into the field of nonsensical inscrutability, but appear to be trying to push their concept into wearable products. Swedish designer Per Götesson presented his collection almost entirely in denim and introduced a multitude of silhouettes that you’ve surely never seen that tried and true fabric take form in prior. London designer Fang Chen Wang used leather and foil to drape all manner of architectural fuckeries over the bodies of a diverse cast of models. But the big story here was the British raving wunderkind Charles Jeffrey and his Loverboy label. Jeffrey is tapping into the late ‘90s rave fueled moment of madly inspired fashion design, but somehow makes his collections more contemporary by reaching for the antiquated. For every super cool looking oversized thrashed Freddy Krueger sweater, there are ten looks that look like ecstasy fairyland versions of Victorian London suits. Fueling the macabre strangeness of the presentation was not only Jeffrey’s wild club kid friends dancing in the background but the incorporation of several fine art sculpture pieces that surely can’t be expected to be sold by any reputable retailer. One looked like a gigantic American flag themed cone head and one was the grim reaper. I mean that in the literal sense. 

On Raf Simons' Decision To Present His Eponymous Collection In New York For The First Time

text by Adam Lehrer

As if us fashion obsessed New Yorkers weren’t freaking out enough over Raf Simons’ creative dominion over Calvin Klein, another massive bit of “Raf meets New York” news has polluted the internet: Raf Simons will be showing his Fall Winter 2017 menswear line at New York Fashion Week: Men’s. This is astonishing for a number of reasons. Firstly, the industry generally considers NYFWM to be shite, and the assertion is generally not wrong. The schedule obviously has some bright spots that I’ve written about at length here (Siki Im, Robert Geller, N. Hoolywood, Devon Halfnight Leflufy, and some more), but big and boring and commercially minded brands like Todd Snyder dominate the press cycle. Important designers like Thom Browne already abandoned NYFWM due to a lack of press coverage and poor organization. Raf’s decision to show at NYFWM brings massive fashion credentials to a Fashion Week schedule that desperately needs them, and it’s fair to bet that a number of high profile menswear designers will warm up to the idea of showing their new collections at NYFWM in his wake.

But more than that, Raf’s decision to show at NYFWM solidifies the creative direction that the designer has been hinting at in his last few collections. Consider this: Raf has always referenced visual artists and musicians throughout his career (after all, he is one of if not the designer that got artsy rock n’ roll dudes interested in high fashion in the first place). But in the past, he exercised decidedly European art and rock influences in his menswear collections. The music of Manchester, namely Joy Division and New Order, and those bands’ album covers’ graphic designer Peter Saville were celebrated in his FW 2003 collection. Raf’s FW 2001 collection presented graphics inspired by the disappearance of Manic Street Preachers’ iconic vocalist and poet Richey Edwards. The European art references in Raf’s work could go on forever: Bowie, German komische and electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk, Belgian ‘Gabber’ techno music, Belgian florist Mark Colle, British fine artist Conrad Shawcross, and his fashion design hero Martin Margiela all influenced Raf’s refined and distinctly European counter-cultural sensibilities.

But somewhere along the line, Raf’s tastes shifted towards the art of the United States. If one had to find a jumping off point for this transition, he/she would most likely point towards his FW 2014 collection designed in conjunction with Los Angeles-based mixed-media artist Sterling Ruby. That collection, based on the peculiar design flourishes of Ruby’s rarified wardrobe, saw the duo incorporate patchwork based around Ruby’s teenaged tendency to adorn his clothes with patches by the likes of American bands Black Flag, Sonic Youth and Bad Brains. Since then, American artists have had a greater presence in Raf Simons collections. His stunning Fall-Winter 2016 collection was full of over-sized school uniforms imagined as the costumes of stars from ‘80s American teen horror movies. Raf has said that American artist, Cindy Sherman, influenced the collection. More prominently, the collection was heavily inspired by the work of David Lynch. The show’s soundtrack featured Angelo Badalamenti discussing his creative process working with David, creating Laura Palmer’s Theme song from Twin Peaks, while that very theme song played chillingly in the background. No artist on Earth has explored the darkness that exists within the cracks of mundane American existence more than Lynch, and it was as if Raf was criss-crossing the whole country before taking up permanent residence in his new home of New York City. But he made it here, as evidenced by his Spring-Summer 2016 collection designed in conjunction with the archive of one of the most quintessentially New York of New York City artists, the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Mapplethorpe deftly chronicled the New York City sub-cultures of the late ‘70s and ‘80s that made the city such a hotbed of artistic excitement and debauched excess. His portrait subjects included members of the gay biker scene and BDSM world, New York high society socialites, and art world superstars ranging from Andy Warhol to Debbie Harry to Mapplethorpe’s once girlfriend Patti Smith. No artist’s output breathes the mysticism of New York City better than Robert Mapplethorpe’s. So when Raf presented a collection that featured Mapplethorpe prints, garments inspired by Mapplethorpe’s idiosyncratic style, and a soundtrack chalk full of Blondie hits, it became clear that Raf’s artistic heart is currently with New York.


So we knew that Raf would be presenting his Calvin Klein collections here. From a business standpoint, it would make sense to just show all his clothes here in New York to avoid the cross Atlantic flights. But looking at Raf’s last few collections, it is clear that he has become increasingly more interested in American art. With his Mapplethorpe collection, he told the world in code that he’d be headed to New York. Like Helmut Lang did before him bringing his brand to New York in the ‘90s, Raf Simons instantly boosts the reputation of the New York City menswear schedule. I feel proud that my city finally has a designer that represents the creativity of the ways in which men dress in New York. Thank you, Raf. 

 

[FASHION REVIEW] Milan Fashion Week SS17

text by Adam Lehrer

 

Since Alessandro Michele debuted at Gucci and drastically altered the landscape of the Milan’s fashion industry, my intros to Milan roundups harped upon the notion that Milan is shedding its traditionalist skin. But since I’m writing this during the middle of Paris Fashion Week, it feels quite evident that almost all of the fashion cities are still paling in comparison to the Paris schedule. But Milan is at its most exciting when its most important brands continue to re-invent the wheel: Gucci, Versace, Prada, Marni, Bottega Veneta. Milan lives and dies by those brands, and when those brands aren’t innovating then Milan is stagnating. Fortunately, the Milan schedule for the Spring-Summer 2017 collections saw those brands all either doing what they do best and/or progressing the brand further. While Michele at Gucci has so firmly established an aesthetic universe at Gucci that his collections will fascinate even if they don’t drastically change season to season, Donatella at Versace moved her brand into a new and fascinating direction after some relatively somnambulant seasons. Italian fashion is Italian fashion; they take it very seriously over there. There is also some exciting youth in Milan at the moment: Arthur Arbesser of Iceberg and his own label, Lucio Vanotti, and even off-schedule brands like Darkdron are all proving Milan can still be a fertile ground for radical fashion design.

 

Bottega Veneta Spring-Summer 2017

Everyone knows Tomas Maier is a good designer, but not often enough do we talk about how revolutionary his 15 year tenure at Bottega Veneta has been: turning athleisure into high fashion, popularizing the suede chelsea boot, and not to mention the countless fabric creations should solidify his status as one of fashion’s most enduring innovators. The Bottega Veneta Spring-Summer 2017 collection celebrated Maier’s 15th year at the house and the brand’s 50th anniversary and you bet your ass it reminded the fashion pack of Maier’s influence. Minimalism, that most over-used of aesthetic terms, applies to Maier’s work. His strength is making what he calls “nothing clothes” and making them special through his use of occasionally outrageous expensive materials: ostrich, crocodile, the finest cashmere the world has ever known, etc.. Despite Maier’s distaste for fashion marketing, the show featured one instagrammable moment when Lauren Hutton came down the runway with Gigi Hadid welding the same woven clutch bag she used in the 1980 film American Gigolo. That filmic moment has been noted as a milestone event for the house and they are recreating the bag for the anniversary.

 

Gucci Spring-Summer 2017

You could make cases for either Alessandro Michele and Demna Gvasalia being the most influential men in fashion. However different their styles may be, they do share similarities. They have both created aesthetic universes that are so rich that you don’t need to wear their clothes to buy into their looks. Perhaps that is the key to their success? When the majority of the fashion audience is mostly broke, it is exceedingly modern to present a way to dress and not simply products that must be bought into.

Not that Michele doesn’t have products, of course. His Spring-Summer 2017 collection saw his vintage leaning tastes take on Renaissance garb: lack patent 5-inch wedge and a black velvet upper embroidered with gold snake (worn by hookers in Venice, according to Michele), sparkled fairy dresses, purposefully aged dresses ruffled and exaggerated. It’s all just so much to look at. No designer on Earth presents a vision as stunning as Michele is right now. Not Rei. Not Demna. Not even Raf. Michele overwhelms you into submission.

 

Versace Spring-Summer 2017

Donatella diversified the Versace oeuvre by applying the magnetic and alluring appeal of Versace eveningwear to a host of streetwear-inspired athletic looks. A woman’s strength doesn’t solely lie in glamour, the SS ’17 Versace collection suggests. That strength can come from athleticism; a sense of ease with one’s self and one’s body. There were flowing nylon parkas, leggings paired with tight t-shirts, and platform Teva’s. Not that the evening wear wasn’t there. There were still beautiful tight dresses in black and others in blocks of primary colors. The diversity in garment was further reflected in the diversity of casting. Models of different body types, ages, and colors were all represented here. From super models of now (Gigi), yesteryear (Naomi), and relative unknowns, Donatella saw the power in all her women. We saw it too.

 

Jil Sander Spring-Summer 2017

After Raf left the label in 2012 and Ms. Sander herself returned for one solitary season, Fausto Puglisi was always going to have an uphill battle bringing the Jil Sander label back to relevance. While the brand remains largely irrelevant, Fausto has had a strong few collections with the label. The Spring-Summer 2017 collection felt very Jil Sander: minimal in color and pattern but abstract in shape. A lot of looks here felt perfect for the gallery girls that went crazy for the label back in the day: big black smocks, leather tunics, and sharp dresses. One must address the shoulder padding here, clearly ripped off from the mind of Demna Gvasalia. Appropriation isn’t welcome when it’s that obvious.

 

Marni Spring-Summer 2017

Vogue’s Sarah Mower cites Marni’s Consuelo Castiglioni as being behind only Rei Kawakubo and Miuccia Prada as fashion’s leader of abstract female fashion design. Certainly, all three women approach fashion as a form of individual expression and not merely as a means of attracting the opposite sex. But Castiglioni still stands in her own category. Prada designs with a kind of wild and unhinged glamour, and Kawakubo’s designs have grown so abstract and bizarre that they are approaching the realm of visual art (her various off-shoot CDG brands often feel like commercial supporters of her conceptual art practice). But Castiglioni’s abstraction is both more subtle than Prada’s and far more practical than Kawakubo’s. And for the Spring-Summer 2017 Milan collections, her Marni vision burner brighter than Prada’s.

Castiglioni uses asymmetry and architecture to transform the practical into the divine. All the dresses were beautifully abstracted welding sleeves and abstracted pleats. The use of pleats, which many critics have cited as an Issey Miyake rip-off used by much brands throughout this season, were used here as odd accessories to cover up one’s arm and shoulder. Loose-fitting tops came with gigantic cargo sleeves just in front of the wearer’s belly. Then there were the massive pocket-books fixed to models’ waists that didn’t look beautiful but certainly were eye-grabbing. Castiglioni has so well defined her customer basis that she can make these grand gestures feel seamless and well-placed. 

[FASHION REVIEW] Paris Fashion Week Review

text by Adam Lehrer

I usually preamble my fashion week round-ups about how the written-about fashion city stacks up against the others, for example: “New York Fashion Week is very commercial but is experiencing a conceptual renaissance.” Something to that effect. Believe me, I know how trite writing these introductions can be. Let’s face it: the fashion industry can look ridiculous to those on the outside. Designers try to imbue their ideas with politics, art, and concepts in what basically amounts to a glorified sales pitch. But in a recent interview about his film ‘The Neon Demon,’ which takes place in the modern fashion world, filmmaker Nik Refn was asked what fashion means to him: “It's melodramatic, emotional, creative; a little bit creepy but also very campy.”

Paris Fashion Week is all of those things. It’s fashion at its best and fashion at its worst. We live in a capitalist world, and creative commerce is the only thing that can push culture forward within a capitalist system. Paris is the center of fashion. To show a collection in Paris is to get signed to the Yankees in baseball. That seal of approval and commercial visibility has enabled Paris-based designers to make grand conceptual gestures to an audience of millions upon millions. While technology has radically altered the way we communicate, fashion has radically progressed ideals of gender, race, and beauty. With Milan being too steeped in antiquated Italian notions of glamour (with exceptions), London designers working in a more cult and hype-driven business model (with exceptions), and New York being far too dictated by conservative retail outlets (with exceptions), Paris is and seemingly always will be ground zero for delivering radical concepts through the medium of fashion design on a global scale. As Nik Refn points out, fashion is an industry no different than the film industry; it’s entertainment. But as technology has enabled us to interact with the fashion industry with previously unprecedented access, it has become the primary entertainment industry for shifting societal norms. With Hollywood cinema having become the medium of The Avengers and popcorn sleaze, the fashion industry has taken center stage as our most important capitalist art form. If Paris Fashion Week is the epicenter of the industry, than it is 2016’s version of what Hollywood cinema was to 1976: a commercially robust platform that enables its audience to question what is presented to them.

(note: this list is in no particular order, all these collections were too good for that)


Saint Laurent Spring-Summer 2017

Hedi who? Sorry for the pun, but I’m mostly serious. I liked some things about Hedi Slimane’s tenure at Saint Laurent: his photography, bringing couture back to the house, and his ability to take creative control over the brand’s entire marketing strategy. But despite his doubling of the brand’s annual take, I never much liked the clothes. I never bought into the whole, “Bringing back Saint Laurent to its rock n’ roll roots.” There is no way that Yves Saint Laurent ever listened to anything that didn’t have a number and the word “symphony” in its title. Of course there were some great pieces delivered during his tenure, but Saint Laurent should be an innovator. The leather jackets were great, but they weren’t any better than Schott Perfecto’s. Yves did believe in taking normal and easy-to-wear pieces and making them incredible. But I’m sorry Hedi, there is nothing incredible about a pair of cut-off denim shorts, no matter how expensive you make them.

And that brings us to Spring-Summer 2017, the first Saint Laurent collection designed by Anthony Vacarello. I was watching SHOWStudio’s live panel on the collection, and typically they had nasty things to say about Vacarello’s first collection for the label, particularly about how over-sexed the models looked in Vacarello’s clothes. Seriously? We’ve gotten so sensitive that a designer can’t make his models look sexy? Vacarello focused on the sexiest era of Saint Lauren’t history, opening the show with a puffed shoulder dress from 1982 that he re-created in black leather. There was much leather that followed: a bustier paired with jeans, a bomber jacket with exaggerated shoulders, a trench over a black dress, a blazer. But where Vacarello excelled in his leather was its silhouettes; each piece was cut and/or shaped in an odd but appealing way (certainly something that Hedi never did with his addiction to skin tight everything). There was see-though shirts, gold lamé, breast exposing dresses, and everything tailored and sharp. I’m really not understanding the criticism aimed at this excellent debut collection. If my girlfriend came out of our bedroom wearing any one of those pieces my jaw would hit the floor. That is what what Yves wanted to do for women: make them feel like the best versions of themselves (my jaw notwithstanding). 

Koche Spring-Summer 2017

Streetwear with a couture twist is a certified trend in fashion at the moment, from the damaged luxury of Berlin’s Ottolinger to Demna Gvasalia’s reign over Balenciaga. But there is still something extraordinary about designer Christelle Kocher’s approach to haute street at her two time LVMH-nominated label Koché. Kocher also serves as artistic director of Maison Lemarié, which provides Karl Lagerfeld with the feathers he needs to make Chanel. Therefore, with Koché she is able to indulge her laissez-faire attitude towards clothing while bringing her rebellious sensibility a remarkable sense of craft and skill. She really wants to make you the last hoodie you’ll ever need to buy.

For the SS 2017 Koché collection, Kocher took inspiration from her fellow Parisian industry standard flouting renegades at Vetements and subverted the fashion show. She allowed public guests to sit at the show space of Les Halles while forcing industry insiders to stand (as someone who has personally witnessed a buyer make an elderly woman get up from his seat at a show, that brings me immense satisfaction). The models, a notable multi-racial pack of street-casted youths and Kocher’s friends, walked top speed around the perimeter of the show space several times. This performative gesture had editors trying to focus in extra hard on the clothes to catch all their unique detailings. A parka in sweatshirt fabric was frilled with black lace, track jackets were reconstructed through the reassembling of disparate pieces of silk, hoodies were transformed into Dracula capes, and summer dresses came in vibrant colors of the sunset and were paired with low top combat boots. I love Vetements, clearly, but unfortunately the buzz around that label has distracted from the fact that Demna is one of many designers leading a renaissance of artful fashion in Paris. Christelle Kocher is right up there with him in the front.

Balenciaga Spring-Summer 2017

Between Balenciaga and Vetements, Demna Gvasalia has created so many signatures silhouettes at this point that he can start to tweak and embellish them without having to change his whole approach season to season. There is no designers being more ripped off by high fashion right now (except for Issey Miyake’s pleats, oddly enough): Jil Sander employed Gvasalia’s hulking shoulder pads, Dior just did print t-shirts, Veronique Branqhino put out a hoodie for chrissakes’! Considering Gvasalia’s success, the mimicry shouldn’t surprise anyone. One thing is certain, however, and that is that no one does what Gvasalia does as radical or disruptive as he does. I even find myself looking forward to seeing new work from Demna, the same way that I look forward to the next Scorsese film or Wolfgang Tillmans exhibition. Other than Raf Simons, there’s no other designers on Earth that instills in me that insatiable fandom.

The Balenciaga Spring-Summer 2017 collection saw Demna incorporating even more Vetements touchstones into the Balenciaga ethos. It’s been wonderful to watch how despite Demna’s penchant for freak flagging that his approach to fashion design feels so right at the house. It’s about structure. It’s about shape. It’s about idiosyncratic notions of glamour. In the Vetements SS 2017 collection we saw Demna collaborate on waist high stilettos with Manohlo Blahnik in leather, and here we see a similar product in waist-high heels that double as pants or tights. In spandex no less? Since Eddie Murphy championed the fabric as skinny version of The Nutty Professor, the fabric has lost its haute connotations; but Demna rectified that with these hard-to-turn-away-from shoes. Then there were the hulking shoulders even further exaggerated by the use of whale bone. A nylon rain parka was made seductive with see through fabric. A little red riding hood was made black and mutated into shiny PVC fabric. Demna’s use of slight tweaks to make the ordinary divine will keep him in free Balenciaga baseball caps for a long time to come.

Side note: I also loved the use of Chris Issak on the soundtrack. It furthers my view that Demna is almost post-taste in his cultural references, bouncing back between standard artist approved post-punk like Sisters of Mercy to total pop cheese. It really nails our current culture on the head, one in which hipsters no longer care about what music is cool and care more about irony and individualism.

Y Project Spring-Summer 2017

A couple seasons ago, Y Project was one of the more skippable shows of the Paris menswear schedule. The late Yohan Serfaty started the label as a menswear brand seriously indebted to the gothic pea-cocking of Rick Owens and fashion unanimously agreed upon the fact that we already have the only Rick Owens we will ever need. So when Glenn Maartens took over the label after Serfaty’s passing, he totally departed from the label’s original aesthetic. Since adding womenswear to the label’s repertoire, the label has received gobs of praise and a nomination for this year’s LVMH Prize, not to mention beloved conceptual stockists including Dover Street Market, Opening Ceremony, and Machine-A.

Maartens has a sense of humor, and his light sensibilities allow for incredibly palatable abstraction in his ingenious fashion creations. His SS 2017 collections, his second for womenswear, found the designer employing styling techniques to achieve a bit of shock. But everything here was actually wearable and built to be styled in different ways: adjustable sleeves, loosening bustiers, laced dresses. There was also some fun play with sexual provocation: the white denim chaps, for instance, barely concealed the model’s ass crack. Or the halter top that coiled at the waist and used an unbuttoned neck to conceal the model’s considerable boobs. I can see Y Project particularly appealing to young female artists that are hustling Instagram and making a little doh but are far from financial security. These are easy-to-wear clothes that are embellished and specialized enough to be adored by the buyer and also beg the buyer to wear them from day to night. Maartens is shaping up to be one of the most malleable conceptualists in fashion design.

Junya Watanabe Spring-Summer 2017

After a couple much derided seasons of racially on the nose sentiment, Junya Watanabe has come fiercely back doing what he does best: making the most structurally complex garments a human being could conceivably want to wear. While his menswear show was full of simple summer pieces adorned in tough to beautiful looking prints, his SS 2017 womenswear collection was complicated. Like artists ranging from Nick Cave to Lydia Lunch to David Bowie to Jeffrey Eugenides did before him, Junya hung out in Berlin to pick up inspiration for this collection. Also like those artists, the city’s dark and abstract culture and landscape had an aesthetic impact on this cyberpunk-leaning collection.

With Berlin-based conceptual fashion magazine 032C and its emphasis on the global merging and mutually beneficial relationship of streetwear and couture seeing its influence reverberate throughout the industry, it appears that Junya has taken note. He paired his highly abstracted geometrically stacked satin art museum pieces with slashed tights, cowboy boots, silver leather skirts, denim shorts, band t-shirts, and silver bomber jackets. There were really only two ideas here, but Junya can stretch an idea so long that an aesthetic universe pours out of it. You can see the nightclub where people are wearing these clothes: speed is being injected in lieu of cocaine, it smells of old puke and piss, bad graffiti adorns the bathroom walls, and Psychic TV is always playing on the speakers. Instead of “elevating streetwear to the level of couture,” as we are seeing in the cases of myriad designers, Junya simply decided to style couture with streetwear and create one incredibly succinct look. He is making Japanese fashion design palatable to a global audience without losing any conceptual credentials.

Haider Ackermann Spring-Summer 2017

I really love Haider Ackermann’s work. I put him in a similar category to designers like Rick Owens and Phoebe Philo; designers that can work a similar idea for a few seasons because there is simply no one else who does what he does. His work always has that bourgeois family black sheep vibe: the man or woman who decides not to enter the family business instead opting for a life of opulence, decadence, smoking, drinking, drugs, casual sex, and creative endeavors. You know whoever that person is dresses fabulously.

This was Ackermann’s first collection since being named creative director of heritage luxury French menswear house Berluti (an inspired casting choice if there was ever one, I can’t be alone in being rabid in anticipation for the punk spin he will put on the brand’s classicist and wildly expensive products). Ackermann is moving away from the draping that made him famous and this collection employed razor sharp tailoring to achieve an exacting if striking silhouette. Despite its precision, the collection still made use of flourishes of rebellion: jackets slashed at the waist, neon two-toned drainpipe leather trousers, a blood spattered jacquard coat, and that wildly spiky hair all screamed, “I’d like to excuse myself from this dinner table to smoke bowls full of opium and hash on my red velvet couch listening to Ornette Coleman.” There were also some more pleats here, also ripped off from Issey Miyake’s wildly copied Plissé line, but Ackermann’s choice to create a wide pleat skirt brightly colored yellow felt less on the nose than other recreations of the textile idea.

Loewe Spring-Summer 2017

Jonathan Anderson’s reinvention of Spanish luxury house cannot be denied: in just two years time he transformed what amounted to a small novelty act into a major Paris Fashion Week event. He did this by honing in on exactly who his customer is. What has separated Anderson from his fellow Central Saint Martin’s-educated young London designers is his unbridled understanding and embracing of fashion’s business side. Noting that his menswear audience at his own label largely consists of gay men, he live-streamed a show on hookup app Grindr. Identifying his Loewe woman as an older cultured lady of means, he decorated the set of his Loewe Spring-Summer 2017 show with ceramics, lamps, and video screens playing an art film. The Loewe woman has a deep appreciation of objects, and Anderson brings rarified objects by the dozens.

Working with one flowing and unstructured silhouette, Anderson put on a fabric clinic: cotton and nylon, patchwork and plissé, raw edges and fringes, jersey and fine leather. There was a hinting at the Spanish luxury of Loewe with dresses recalling those worn by women from 19th century Spanish villages. Everything here looked expensive, as it should, because these clothes are extremely expensive. And that’s not even mentioning the wide diversity of shoes, bags and accessories that will give Loewe fans more buying options than any collection the house has ever put out. Of all the creative director-driven brand reinventions of the last 10 years; Hedi at Saint Laurent, Raf at Dior, Galliano at Margiela; Anderson’s reinvention of Loewe is by far the most radical and arguably the most successful, considering the relative obscurity of the brand before his hiring. 


Comme des Garcons Spring-Summer 2017

You don’t watch Comme des Garcons' main line collections anymore to find new pieces to buy. You watch it to feel awe. Rei Kawakubo has been slowly emerging as something more akin to a conceptual artist than a conceptual fashion designers, at least in her womenswear collections. Of course the dozens of other subdivisions she designs weld tons of clothes that you can’t wait to get your hands on: CdG Homme, CdG shirt, CdG black, etc.. But all those brands financially support the pure creations that Kawakubo devises for her Comme des Garcons show. Of all her artistically grandiose recent collections, from the red blood soaked and Sunn O)))-soundtracked SS 2015 show to the punk empresses of FW 2016, Kawakubo’s SS 2016 collection might just be her most exquisite yet.

The hulking sculptures in the collection beg countless meanings. Sarah Mower noted the girth of the stomach linings as potentially being a comment on being a woman (“pregnant with meaning,” she put it) or perhaps simply examining Kawakubo’s contributions to the medium and examining where to go from here with it. But I don’t really care about attaching any meaning to her work. Like all great art, Kawakubo’s work begs personal projection on the part of the viewer. When necessary, I prefer to lay back, shut my brain off, and bask in the glow of pure creation.

Off-White Spring-Summer 2017

While its clearly a beloved label, Virgil Abloh’s Off-White often feels like its critical praise is dimmed under the considerable glow of contemporaries like Matthew Williams, Demna Gvasalia, and Glenn Maartens. I will continue to challenge this notion, because Virgil’s vision is just as succinct and unique as his friends and collaborators. Off-White’s SS 20177 collection explored the conflicted notion of the modern business woman. Of course, that left the door wide open.

Abloh envisioned these women in everything from jeans (made with Levi’s Made and Crafted) to pants suits, track suits to stunningly draped evening gowns. But Abloh’s real trick is the sell. This collection could easily look like two separate collections from two very different designers. But Abloh’s nonchalant approach to presentation, complete with a new wave soundtrack and Frank Ocean finale, felt exceedingly modern and customer aware. For the Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid types, this is who they are. They can go out in the day with a hoodie and bootie shorts and wear a Versace gown later that night and still look scarily hot in both the photos. Abloh, a rapid pop culture and art consumer, also employed some Mondrian colors in both tie-dye pants and a color blocked patchwork sweater. He loves aesthetics, and has the ability to make his very Tumblr-fried diverse tastes work for a high fashion pack. I just wish he’d start showing in New York. No designers gets the tastes of young New Yorkers better than Abloh.


Rick Owens Spring-Summer 2017

A beautifully pained Nina Simone soundtrack. An ethereally industrial Palais de Tokyo setting. Shapes, cuts and drapes that you’ve never seen before. An evocative and theatrical mood that most designers could only dream of achieving. Voila: another incredible Rick Owens show.

I’m almost sick of including Rick Owens on every Paris round-up and near purposefully left him off this one (perhaps to shine line on a newer voice like Lutz Huelle, Alyx, or Vejas, or even another brilliant Nicholas Ghesquiere Louis Vuitton outing), but upon second viewing I had to include Rick. He’s the most idiosyncratic fashion designer of my generation. No other fashion designer can make such emotionally gut-wrenching statements while still holding true to his position as a man who needs to sell clothes to survive and keep his business afloat. Like last season, there was lots of the now-signature Rick draping methodology, where mounds of fabric are used to make a perfect wearable garment into something more transportive. The dresses, in a beautiful muted color palette of black, purple, yellow, and white, saw creases folded on top of one another like an ancient sculpture. Towards the end, those dresses came under capes made of loosely weaved yarn, not totally unlike Luke’s clothing choices in the icy beginning of The Empire Strikes Back. Rick has total confidence in his unique conception of beauty and, it’s true, no one else could create this kind of beauty quite like he does.  

[FASHION REVIEW] London Fashion Week SS17

 text by Adam Lehrer

 

With luxury fashion valued at $339 BILLION, it’s hard to imagine that some of the world’s biggest fashion brands are struggling. But the reality is, they are. Burberry’s gross margins dropped 1 percent in 2016; that might not sound like much, but in an industry that demands constant growth investors worry when number drop even slightly. The reality of the London Fashion Industry is that the massive brands are still the massive brands and the scrappy upstarts are still the scrappy upstarts, but those upstarts are draped in so much hype that inevitably they will cut into the conglomerates’ market shares. London brands run on hype and digital excitement. When JW Anderson or Marques Almeida show their new collections, I scour my Instagram feed and the fashion sites devouring images of the new collection. For Burberry: not so much. Burberry creative director and CEO Christopher Bailey must be aware of this dichotomy and has employed a new strategy to reinvigorate what is seen (by the fashion pack, at least) as a stale brand.

Bailey’s decision to make Burberry collections accessible to consumers immediately before the Spring Summer 2017 show, with Barney’s and other retailers, isn’t exactly the pioneering gesture that some would believe it to be. However, it is innovative in that it’s a luxury conglomerate adopting a Supreme-esque streetwear savvy approach to retail. Supreme is one of the most desired brands on the planet with its tried and true model of releasing products just a couple of days blowing up the blogosphere with look books and product pics (Supreme announced a sick Undercover collaboration on Tuesday, it came out today). Bailey has employed that model for the luxury market, and Tom Ford and Proenza Schouler quickly followed suit. I highly doubt that this will have any effect on the legions of everyday luxury buyers that flock to Burberry; those consumers don’t care about fashion hype. But it might shine the fashion spotlight back on Burberry. The press the brand is getting alone will have an impact, no question. Is Bailey’s new model perfect? Well, what is? But at the very worst, it’s a way to attach some much needed shine to what has become a bland brand. If the impending doom of Brexit rocks the UK’s financial system to the point that experts are predicting, industries across the board are going to have to get experimental and creative in their business practices. Perhaps decisions like Christopher Bailey’s are harbingers of what will be necessary to survive in a financially uncertain future.


Marques Almeida Spring-Summer 2017

As SHOWStudio editor Lou Stoppard pointed out this week in an interview, Paulo Almeida and Marta Marques only graduated from Central Saint Martin’s a few years ago. That’s remarkable, as Marques Almeida has evolved from an interesting brand with the weird denim to an LVMH-prize approved full range of left-leaning but wearable pieces. The Spring Summer 2017 collection added some more denim silhouettes to the brand’s range, like some JNCO-shaped jeans that were cuffed at the ankle. But the collection’s breadth of range here was superb. Though Almeida has said that the only decade he felt any connection to was the 1990s, there was a palatable sense of the early 20th Century in this collection: a William Morris print, Princess Di sleeves, chambray blouses, and a brocade jacket. The show also excelled in its casting: the designers had all of their friends walk the runway and allowed them to each put their own attitudes on display. It almost reminded me of what Pat Fields and Scooter Laforge just did with the Art Fashion show at New York Fashion Week; by allowing each model to own their senses of selves on the runway a simple fashion show can approach the gesturing of performance art. Marques Almeida is a funky brand and gets credit for said funkiness, but where it doesn’t get enough praise is its aspiration. Marques Almeida often feels like a brand for the punk and rave children of British aristocrats. Rebellion doesn’t need to look cheap.


Burberry Spring-Summer 2017

While Bailey is justly being praised for his business savvy, the Burberry Spring Summer 2017 collection spoke to his talent for creation. It was hands down the best collection of his career. Showing menswear and womenswear simultaneously for the first time, the show contained 99 looks. While I’m glad I wasn’t there in person, the collection still feels well edited despite its gargantuan length. The collection was everything one could love about Burberry: subtle, high-quality, and highly British. That is where Bailey has floundered with Burberry in the past: in his efforts to make the brand more rebellious he has forgotten what the brand actually means to people. Not with this collection that effortlessly incorporated Burberry-isms into Bailey’s rock n; roll sensibilities. A darkly colored embroidered dress was paired with Doc Maarten-looking heals. A nutcracker uniform was made a stunning black and white dress. Menswear shirts were ruffled and fey, paired sensibly with wide trousers or drainpipe jeans. And that’s Burberry: great clothes that you’ll want to wear. One criticism: not every designer needs to make Vetements     shapes, and Bailey’s leather jackets looked ripped right from that brand’s playbook.


JW Anderson Spring-Summer 2017

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Of all the people working in the contemporary fashion industry, it appears that Jonathan Anderson is the only one who thrives amongst the breakneck pace of the fashion schedule, he recently said to Interview Magazine, “It’s about quantity—not quality, it means you don’t overthink things.” That positive outlook is genuinely refreshing. There is no turning back time. Anderson’s conscious decision to embrace the instantaneous nature of modern media should be something to admire.

You can see Anderson’s understanding of the culture in his Spring-Summer 2017 womenswear collection. Unlike Raf Simons or Rei Kawakubo or even Miuccia Prada (all designers that Anderson has cited as influences), Anderson never centers his collections around a solitary theme or vision. His is a glorious hodgepodge of imagery full of products seemingly out of place with one another but still demanding a unified viewpoint. Focusing on summery dresses, Anderson placed look after Instagram worthy look on his runway. As usual, there were so many products and accessories here, one could argue that Anderson is over-indulgent. I say no. I believe that Anderson recognizes that the most successful designers aim to see their work all over cyberspace. It’s interesting that as pervasive as imagery has become, fashion temporarily went back towards the minimal. Anderson is a maximalist all the way. As superb as Alessandro Michele’s work has been at Gucci, it’s difficult to imagine Michele being as successful as he is if Anderson not already paved this path before him.


Mulberry Spring-Summer 2017

Seldom does one want to focus on the stylist of a collection more so than the designer, but not every stylist holds the influence that Lotta Volkova holds over the industry. Designer Johnny Coca, who is known mostly as an accessories designer, faced no small task when given the reigns over accessories house Mulberry’s recently launched ready-to-wear line. His first collection, Fall-Winter 2016, didn’t impress. Where was the story to build upon?

Luckily, this season Coca just focused on the products and allowed the story to be told by none other that Vetements/Gosha stylist Volkova. This saw Coca creating bland, almost dire, colored military-inflected suits and office dresses that recall more the grey of British townships than the vibrancy of London. But if there’s anyone who knows how to make bland exciting, it’s Volkova. The result was a kind of corporate-minded responsible woman just hung over enough from her punk days to make the tiniest of rebellious gesture in her clothing. Ultimately, the clothing served as a vehicle for the accessories, so Coca and Volkova did their jobs.


Ashish Spring-Summer 2017

London is one of the most multi-cultural cities on the planet and it is that diversity that has come under attack post-Brexit. London’s Indian population has deep and long-standing ties to the city (we can all agree that Indian food is generally the best culinary option that the city has to offer, for example). Designer Ashish Gupta immigrated to London from India in 1996 and seeing his community come under attack has influenced him to inflate his cultural heritage and slam it back in the faces of the emerging right wing British think-tank. “Tonight I wanted to celebrate Indian culture, because it is also such an integral part of British culture,” the designer explained to Vogue.

The Ashish Spring-Summer 2017 collection filtered Gupta’s penchant for gender-bending and rave-inspired wackiness through the beauty and spirituality of Indian garb. Embroidery was applied to everything from lungis and sherwanis to denim basketball shorts and track suits. The mostly Indian, Asian, and mixed raced runway cast came in all genders and wore crowns and Indian makeup stylings. Often, radical designers, like Gupta, will only focus on sub-cultures that hold relevance in the Western world, as if the Western world is the only world creating culture of value: punk, minimalism, abstract expressionism, film noir, whatever. Gupta’s choice to focus on his own heritage reminds the viewer that beauty comes from everywhere and should be loved and respected regardless of its origins. Bonus for New York scenesters: self-described Renaissance man and man-about-town curator Richie Shazam closed the show with a fucking python wrapped around his neck. As a man that carries a deep phobia of serpents, this show-stopping gesture became even more potent.


Simone Rocha Spring-Summer 2017

Simone Rocha recently told Interview Magazine that her primary inspiration comes out of two things: travel, and “a good show.” She was referencing, of course, an art exhibition. Inspired by a single Jackie Nickerson photograph, her Spring-Summer 2017 collection was indicative of Rocha’s sensitivity to aesthetic imagery. “There was a photo of someone wrapped in white plastic working in a field next to a painting of Irish girls—that did it,” said Rocha to Vogue.

Rocha’s clothing is fancy night our garb for Dover Street Market girls. All her dresses could get the wearer into the most exclusive of high society outings while still expressing her innate freedom and sexuality. A see through black dress, patch worked-florals, parachute sleeve white taffeta blouses; all of these looks are indicative of Rocha’s penchant for outré kink, self-expression in the face of well-coiffed mundanity, and an unwavering commitment to artisanal craftsmanship.

[FASHION REVIEW] New York Fashion Week SS17

text by Adam Lehrer

New York Fashion Week is what it is. Of all the fashion weeks, it presents the most missable shows by a fairly wide margin. That being said, it’s also the fashion schedule that is most ripe for radical re-interpretations and deconstructions by a new generation of art-minded malcontents hell bent on making fashion and art in equal measure. Despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that New York Fashion Week maintains its representation for being the most commercially minded of the schedules, a prominent fashion underground has slowly been rising to the surface. Let’s call it the New York millennial fashion revolution (even though the Gen X’er could be seen as a progenitor to this movement in his embracing of both high art and trash pop culture). Almost analogous to the rise of young New York artists like Alexandra Marzella, Julia Fox, and India Menuez, the new New York fashion scene draws upon underground art, pop music, digital media, and celebrity in equal measure. The creativity that results from this lurid amalgam of ideas can be simultaneously fascinating and grotesque, but very indicative of New York now: DIY but tuned in, underground but digitally connected.


Hood by Air Spring-Summer 2017

How many images do you consume per day? Can you even estimate a number? How many of those images are pornographic and how many hold artistic merit? Does it even matter? Can pornography have artistic merit? Maybe. Those questions all filtered into Shayne Oliver’s Spring-Summer 2017 Hood by Air collection that saw the designer juxtapose abstract shapes with bastions of lurid digital imagery, the porno companies Hustler and YouPorn. The collection captured the mood of New York 20-somethings perfectly. In all honesty, there is a renewed interest in art and abstract ideas that you can feel wafting in the bars, theaters, and galleries of the Lower East Side, Bushwick, Gowanus, and Harlem. But at the same time, that interest in art is always in competition with de-personalized digital imagery, often of a sexual nature. Oliver, a true modern conceptualist, decided to embrace this dichotomy in this stunning HBA collection. As with most HBA collections, there were some wild images in here: jump suits folded into capes, Wall Street suits cut off at the shoulder exposing corsetry, and the much-talked about collaboration with Brooklyn heritage boot brand Frye revealing a Western cowboy boot designed to look like two boots attached at the heal. That last example especially reveals Oliver’s understanding of the modern consumer; the shoe works as both a meme and a feat of artistry. And then there were the Hustler and PornHub branded shirts whispering to the audience a sly acknowledgement of the conundrum of being both an artist and the boss of a very hype-driven brand. Time and time again, Oliver is able to deliver conceptual ideas in both silhouettes and viral marketing.

Side note: Wolfgang Tillmans has been my favorite artist, PERIOD, for years, and it’s rewarding to see the German photographer have this strange pop cultural moment. In addition to releasing two EPs of dance music and working with and shooting the cover for Frank Ocean’s Blond/Blonde, Tillmans served as a surprise model for the HBA SS 2017 show. He is EVERYWHERE, all of a sudden.


Ottolinger Spring-Summer 2017

Berlin-based Ottolinger’s Spring-Summer 2017 show was styled by Berlin-based arts and culture bi-annual 032C’s fashion editor Marc Goehring, and to me, Ottolinger fills a similar independently spirited intellectual punk void in fashion to the one that 032C fills in fashion publishing. Berlin just might be the last counter-culture major metropolis in the world, and designers Christa Bosch and Cosima Gradient filter that Berlin-bred radicalism into their couture quality pieces: the Berlin post-punk and industrial music scene of the mid ’80s, Berghain and gay techno culture, and the contemporary Berlin gallery scene all manifest in the design duo’s ideas. Like contemporaries Vetements and Y Project, Ottolinger’s aesthetics can be harsh and confrontational. But, Christa and Cosima have a specific vision of beauty that came through loud and clear with this most recent collection. In the collection, contemporary staples like pleated trousers, graphic tees, oxford shirts, and blazers were tattered and left with fringe hanging towards the floor. More extreme looks saw a pink satin jacket burned off at the top on one side (burned garments is an Ottolinger staple) and tattered see-through lace tops and pants. Despite Ottolinger’s Margiela-esque knack for deconstruction, the duo’s annihilation of threads does not feel like it’s for shock value. Instead, Bosch and Gradient only think about their garments’ relationships to their own bodies. This collection reeked of sex from the half naked models to the propulsive and full-volumed harsh techno soundtrack. The Rapunzel length pony tails were only one of the many reasons I couldn’t stop staring at Ottolinger’s exceedingly hot women.


Vaquera Spring-Summer 2017

Vaquera designer Patric DiCaprio brought on his friends David Moses (formerly of Moses Gauntlett Cheng) and Bryn Taubensee effectively turning the label into a three-person show. Despite it no longer being the sole creative vision of DiCaprio, the Vaquera SS 2017 show felt like an organic building upon of ideas that DiCaprio has honed in label’s previous seasons (both Moses and Taubensee have worked on every Vaquera collection in some capacity).

Much of the label’s signatures remained: ruffles aplenty, big sleeves, revealing cuts, and Southern pastoral colors. DiCaprio also played with a “graduation” theme insinuating plans to take this small and cultish label to greater commercial success. There were lots of very played-out references in the collection, from the Rolling Stones to Che Guevara. It made sense, reminding one of the kid at your college dorm (perhaps it’s you or me even) that eschewed fraternity life for early experimentation in counter-cultural icons. Sense of humor abounds in Vaquera; but jokes aside this was a very ethereal and important collection from an exciting talent.



Thom Browne Spring-Summer 2017

Thom Browne strikes me as being to fashion what Phil Spector was to pop music. Like Spector, Browne uses imagination, ingenuity, and experimentation to create a conceptually interesting and commercially successfully formula. In that formula, there is room for endless re-invention and re-configuration.

Browne’s SS 2017 collection strayed from his most consistent formula of grey suiting, however, opting for experimental garments with unique function. The brightly colored and humorously printed dresses were designed to look like Browne’s signature suit and pants. Ever the witty showman, Browne’s women all entered the floor at once. Revealing the clothing’s multiple uses, the girls unzipped their pieces and stripped away layer by layer, revealing shirts and pants and finally swim suits. What I love about Thom Browne is his inventor qualities. Unlike fashion experimentalists Rei Kawakubo or Simone Rocha, Browne constantly introduces new inventions to his brand that have practical uses. This isn’t about art, it’s about clothing. It’s an ingenious application of creativity in the high-minded artistic atmosphere of the fashion world. Browne has more in common with Spector or Joy Mangano than he does Picasso or Yves.
 


Adam Selman Spring-Summer 2017


Adam Selman is one of New York’s most talked about designers. Part of that is due to his well-established connection to Rihanna (Selman has designed costumes for the star and his boyfriend, 032C style director Mel Ottenberg, is Rihanna’s stylist), but his ideas stand on their own and his label grows more interesting with each passing season. Selman lives in a solitary fashion world in which fashion is taken lightly and with humor but never with stupidity. It’s refreshing that one of New York’s most interesting designers seems in touch with being American: the Texan designer’s SS 2017 referenced country, rock n’ roll, and disco (with a disco soundtrack to boot). The show started off with a soft pink dress, and slowly the show took on similarly light fabric’d clothing in easy patterns and shapes. Selman also believes in the fashionista’s right to be sexy. That sentiment rang loud and clear with a t-shirt sporting a graphic sourced from a 1940s porn film, and was lightly hammered in with looks that revealed legs, waists, shoulders, and clavicles. The designer also nodded to his own Venice Beach-recalling style with a Hawaiian print shirt tucked into a pair of loose fitting denim jeans. Selman is a master editor. I’d be hard pressed to find any designer that can pack so many concepts and, yes, FUN into a 32-look show. 
 


Marc Jacobs Spring-Super 2017

Am I the only one that thinks that it seems like, culturally, Marc Jacobs has a lost a bit of his shine? Sure, you’d be hard pressed to find someone that says, “Marc Jacobs is a bad designer.” But since leaving Louis Vuitton, it appears that Marc is often spoke more of in terms of commercial designers like Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein than he is radical conceptualists like Nicolas Ghesquiere, Raf Simons, or Rick Owens. That is a shame, because Jacobs’ real talent has always been marrying high and low culture and filtering it through a conceptually driven but commercially appealing brand. Just look at the David Sims campaign for his excellent, Salem Witch Trial-influenced Fall-Winter 2016 collection. In the campaign, massive pop stars and models like Cara Delevingne, Cher, and Anthony Keidis appear alongside ads with radical performance artist Kembra Phahler, Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV frontman/lady and conceptual artist Genesis P. Orridge, and even the iconic Japanese noise/free improv/psych rock guitarist Keiji Haino (if you want your mind fucked a little, go seek out Haino’s band Fushitsusha from the ‘80s/‘90s). Marc features enough fame in the campaign to captivate pop junkies and also enough radical artists to capture the attention of, well, artists and radicals. Truly genius campaign for a beautiful, dark collection.

Jacobs’ Spring-Summer 2017 show wasn’t as good as the previous one, but still, very fucking good. The show took elements from ‘90s rave culture; the last great sendoff before the potential Trump presidency that could halt the party forever. The clothes were all glamorous and trashy, but chic, if that makes sense. Lots of metallic lamé, fur collars, and holographic sequins. The show worked less well when Marc infused his Marc by Marc Jacobs diffusion line into the main line; army jackets didn’t illuminate upon the collection’s theme. If I were him, I would use the show for his good Marc Jacobs shit, and do a buyers’ presentation for the Marc by Marc Jacobs line. British illustrator Julie Verhoeven, who worked with Marc way back in 2002 on a Lou Vuitton collection, applied her work to sweatshirts, shoes, and bags. But really, Jacobs is the great celebrator of fashion and pop culture’s interactions. He clearly loves music, but he is less attracted to sub-culture than he is the cult of the icon.

Side note: I’m getting really sick of fashion critics going after designers for diversity of casting, especially when the man they are going after is Marc Jacobs. It appears to be an effort to feel relevant when talking about the silhouettes of jumpers that nearly ever designer has become a target for social justice warrioring. Sure, Vetements does have a race problem. But MARC DOES NOT. His casting has always been diverse, so stop trying to make yourself feel important by counting the amount of women of color on the runway. Let’s discuss AESTHETICS. When race is an issue, it’s an issue, and we can discuss that when it’s absolutely relevant. But it is not an issue in the casting of Marc Jacobs.



Eckhaus Latta Spring Summer 2017

For their SS 2017 collection, the duo’s 10th, designers Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta brought it home. Opting to show the collection in the Lower East Side’s Seward Park, the SS 2017 show exemplified all that Eckhaus Latta has come to be known for in their leadership role over New York’s new fashion generation: strange romantic cuts, gender-blurring, diverse casting, and a soundtrack provided by this generation’s hero musician Dev Hynes. Showing the collection an arm’s distance from where the now five-year-old brand started was fitting, as this label is firmly on the rise after getting named to the Forbes 30 Under 30, expanding to e-commerce, and opening their first retail boutique. Emblematic of the brand’s evolution, this was the most product heavy of any Eckhaus Latta show to date. Opening with an oversized white denim jacket and long skirt, the show featured a ton of easy-to-wear pieces accented by just enough oddity to appeal to the artsy weirdo acolytes of the brand. There were tattered jeans, re-built dresses, knit smocks, and nylon material dresses that looked wet when the wearers moved. Always a patron of interesting artists, Los Angeles-based multi-disciplinary artist (and former musician who used to perform under the name Barr and was a fixture of infamous LA punk club The Smell, which was home to bands like No Age, Mika Miko, and Abe Vigoda) Brendan Fowler contributed work to the collection in the form of pieces made of recycled garments, all emblazoned with the slogan, “Election Reform!” (it appears that Mike, Zoe, and Brendan were feeling the bern). Eckhaus Latta is growing (Zoe admitted to Dazed that she was aghast when she found a Zara rip-off of one of her ideas priced at $8), but their homegrown attitude and that closeness to the youth-driven art scene of New York could allow them to grow with their audience (Alexandra Marzella, India Menuez, Petra Collins) the same way that Marc Jacobs did with his (Kim Gordon, Sofia Coppola).


Lyz Olko Spring-Summer 2017

Lyz Olko, formerly of the label Obesity & Speed, offered a break from the rapid speed of New York Fashion Week with her namesake’s SS 2017 NYFW debut. As opposed to the super fast in and out nature of runway shows, Olko invited some journos and friends down to Elvis Guesthouse in the Lower East Side. There, you could grab a highly potent mystery drink in plastic sippy cups labeled “Drink Me” and mingle with models hanging out and wearing Lyz Olko. The collection itself consisted of lots of rocker girl staples: see-through sequin tops, suede dresses, denim jackets, and a Jeanette Hayes-illustrated leather biker jacket. There wasn’t a lot of product, per se, but there was an attitude. The all-girl rock band Pretty Sick capped the night off with a performance while wearing the collection.



Telfar Spring-Summer 2017

“This is clothing,” said Telfar Clemens of his brand Telfar and its Spring-Summer 2016 collection.   Teller’s “basics minus gender with a twist” has been ripped off countless times. But its Telfar’s aesthetic that makes him special: clean, minimal, colorful, and carrying odd but functional garment quirks. As collections, his work is beautiful, and as individual pieces his garments are fascinating. Coming in a palette of what Clemens called “Old Navy” or “Martha Stewart" colors, Telfar warped wardrobe staples into his vivacious vision: polo shirts with the backs removed replaced by bra straps, cardigans with deep (very deep) V’s, track pants sliced at the knees, suit jackets missing sleeves (reminiscent of Raf’s mid-00s work actually). The sportier looks were increasingly strange: a male model strutted down the runway wearing a one-piece bathing suit that could also work as compression gear for the gym. Telfar captivates a similarly fashion-minded audience as Vetements but in many ways is the antithesis of Vetements. While Vetements is a brilliant experimentation in branding that reflects its audience’s consumption of culture through the clothing (a Vetements collection can reference ‘70s glam rock, Norwegian Black Metal, and Justin Bieber in the same collection while still remaining free of any cultural philosophy, allowing the audience to apply their own specific interests to the brand and make it work for them), Telfar is truly about the brilliance of clothing design. The only branding in this collection was Telfar’s beautiful logo printed small on a couple pieces. Telfar has a vision of the future that is free of hype and branding. Will this future ever come to fruition? No one knows, but no doubt the Telfar brand will continue to grow and embrace new garment ideas.


Pyer Moss Spring-Summer 2017

Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean Raymond subverted the fashion senses of evil Wall Street fuckfaces like Patrick Bateman, Bernie Madoff, and Donald Trump in his brand’s Spring-Summer 2017 collection. Following the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling and others and potentially preceding the very election of one of those evil fuckfaces in Donald Trump, Raymond appears to be slyly tackling contemporary political discourse. Back in the days of Occupy Wall Street, the movement was constantly denounced as lazy, under-dressed, and incomprehensible hippies, largely due to their fashion aesthetics. Noreen Malone wrote for NY Magazine of this problem, believing that the movement could have gained more traction and respect had the protesters dressed for success. Raymond has proposed the ultimate protest wardrobe in this collection with a series of luxury office wear styled down in the way that artists and radicals like it: slouchy but beautiful double breasted blazers, cropped perfecto jackets, twill trousers with sippers from the hem to the knee, and Prada-recalling leather jackets with smartly placed bleach stains. The politically charged prints remained, with Madoff himself appearing on t-shirts, as did the brand’s knack for luxurious sportswear. But what remains strongest about Raymond’s vision is that Pyer Moss is aspirational to the max. No one could argue that you don’t look dressed up wearing his clothes. It is a brand for people looking to take their activism or art to a state of legitimacy: to play their game you have to look the part, but you can hold onto your individuality while doing so. 

 

[FASHION REVIEW] New York Men's Day and Private Policy

text by Adam Lehrer

 

I can't be the only amongst us fashion editors feeling a little cognitive dissonance towards my chosen medium. Every single day, I'm glued to the news and witnessing yet another national tragedy: Alton Sterling, Filando Castile, the Dallas police. All of my energy goes towards tweets and Instagram posts and expressed sympathies and it all results in a general sense of feeling useless. Of feeling like maybe what I'm doing is not worthwhile. And then I have to turn around, plug my mind into the information highway, look at fashion, at art, listen to new music, and try and formulate ideas about it all and process it to reframe the information.

Thus, it's been a little harder to get excited by fashion recently. On the bright side, it's a lot easier to discern when something is generally amazing. Raf's Mapplethorpe collection, Demna at Balenciaga, the arrival of Kiko Kostadinov. When fashion is good, it hits you on all senses: visually, sonically, emotionally. It takes you out of your own anxiety and allows you to just put your bullshit aside and be defeated. 

New York Fashion Week: Men's, now in its third season, doesn't offer much in the way of transformative fashion experiences. There just isn't a lot of support here for radical thought, and it feels a little more obvious with each passing season of the shows. A year ago, the first Men's Fashion Week was the first fashion week I ever fully covered and I was probably pretty psyched to be wearing my best suede boots and get photographed while posturing around. I was drunk on weed and beer and sunshine and my own newly inflated ego. All that bullshit can alter your sense of objectivity, and next thing you know you're throwing 5-star reviews at the most trite High Street aping garbage rags coming down the runway. Not this time. That's right, one year in and I'm jaded. And hopefully, jadedness comes in handy when covering fashion.

New York Fashion Week: Men's starts with New York Men's Day, where eight or so brands offer looks at new collections in what amounts to a more inclusive buyer's presentation. In theory, it's a nice way to glimpse new clothes: there's no cat fights over seating, you are given a healthy time frame to come and go, and there's a Cadillac provided free meal. I always have a good time. But a lot of these brands have shown over and over: Chapter, Krammer and Stoudt, PLAC, and others have used this forum for almost every season. It's starting to feel a little same-y, and doesn't feel essential at all to providing our readers an overview of what's exciting in fashion right now.


There is always at least one brand that warrants a second look, however. Last season, it was Edmund Ooi, a Royal Academy of Art-trained Malaysian designer that channels early Raf caught naked at a leather club. This season, it's the nice Parsons grads Siying Qu and Haoran Li and their label Private Policy. Though there were a couple looks that could have been edited from their SS 2017 show, such as pretty basic Navy trench coats, but there were some startling looks here. Siying told me at the show that much of this collection was centered around the idea of the warriors fighting for justice, and she noted that recent news events weighed heavily on both their minds when conceptualizing the collection. The starting point was a news article about enslaved fisherman in Southeast Asia. How do we find justice? There's no doubt that self presentation has much to do with that, and designers have played with this trope time and time again. But the clothes were nice here, and harsher than past Private Policy seasons. There were still the fun pieces, like the colorful souvenir jackets. There was a theme of protection versus aggression. A black jacket layered and draped recalled Yohji and his desire to protect his customers' bodies, but these deconstructed and slashed tank tops came on strong, like the warrior announcing his battles, perhaps. Like an older editor at the presentation said, "Deconstructed, now that's fashion."
 

[FASHION REVIEW] Vetements Couture Spring 2017 Collection

text by Adam Lehrer

 

From the very beginning, Vetements connected with fashion lovers not because of how different it was, but because of how oddly familiar it is. Demna Gvasalia and his radical collective of European designers are primarily interested in the ways that mainstream products have been co-opted and used by various sub-cultures as signifiers, protectors, and weapons.  Demna will tell any interviewer that asks that Vetements is not a “conceptual” brand; that it’s really “just about clothes,” as the brand’s name would lead you to believe. But the fact of the matter, the “just clothes” mantra is conceptual in and of itself. Demna, and stylist Lotta Volkolva, use the identities of clothes to extrapolate ideas from them: a hoodie sized to this means X and jeans with this particular cut mean Y. It’s almost like the viewer or the wearer can project his or her own ideas onto the clothes, like a blank canvas. The skinhead and his bomber jacket, the DJ and his tracksuit, the model and her stilettos: Vetements constantly finds new ways of looking at products we’ve seen, and probably worn, 1000 times.

After the last three shows, all of which were hailed as revolutionary, and not to mention Demna’s first two Balenciaga stunners, Vetements’ SS 2017 menswear and womenswear presentation at Paris Haute Couture was the glorious send off of Vetements’ first era. Because Vetements is ultimately about clothes and the wild possibilities that live within garments, Demna and crew decided to collaborate with a slew of massive brands based on various products and what brand first came to mind when that product was mentioned: a tailored jacket (Brioni), bomber (Alpha Industries), jeans (Levi’s, duh). Forget artistic genius! Though there was plenty of that in Vetements SS 2017 as well, this show was a grand feat of business savvy! Guram Gvasalia, Demna’s brother and brand CEO, finagled his way through the entire garment industry to sell the Vetements vision to 18 (!!) iconic brands. These brands would be producing Vetements designs in their factories (Gvasalia told Monolo Blahnik that he’d be slashing his shoes, and Monolo was actually excited at the prospect). That is indicative of how powerful this brand has become: EVERYONE seemingly wants to see the “Vetements version” of their products.

Some of the collaborations resulted in the exact product you would expect from a Vetements show. The Alpha Industries’ MA-1’s for instance, were oversized to the umpteenth degree, and the beautiful Mackintosh coats had the elongated sleeves and easy silhouette that, let’s face it, looks like the coolest possible way to wear a Mackintosh coat.

But there were some sumptuous surprises born of these collaborations. The Brioni jackets that opened the show were slashed at the shoulders, allowing Paul Hameline to wear the coat over his back as a cape of sorts, while the trousers were slashed at the hem. All the while, Brioni (good sports that the Italian tailoring maestros must be) agreed with the Gvasalia brothers’ idea to not iron any of the Brioni pieces (a Brioni suit is usually tailored up to 40 times before hitting retail). Blahnik thankfully didn’t have to endure the destroying of his shoes, but instead offered Vetements a waist-high version of his thigh-high satin stiletto boots. They were basically pants that acted as shoes. Or shoes that acted as pants. Either way, they fucking worked!

The Levi’s denim pieces (without Levi’s logos, score 1 point Guram) were also exciting. There was a black on black denim look oversized and draped over the wearer’s head, but there was also a corduroy Canadian tuxedo look that look cut similar to the suits in the Balenciaga menswear show. Texan cowboy boot purveyors Lucchese manufactured a sleek and glam rock version of their classic boots that looked nice with the unstructured jackets. NYC leather brand Schott, creator of the Perfecto (AKA the world’s greatest motorcycle jacket) offered some lovely oversized leather jackets, but also took Demna up on the offer to cut some leather into some little booty shorts. Why not? Carhartt workpants were turned into huge dresses (more like smock dresses). Canada Goose, creator of the world’s warmest puffer jackets, got the architectural treatment, creating jackets with all sorts of interesting details allowing the wearer to style the piece in a variety of ways. The Canada Goose puffers looked like much more technically precise versions of the Puffers in Demna’s first Balenciaga Ready-to-Wear show.

Totally out of left field was Demna identifying the “couture” within the brand DNA of one Juicy Couture. That brand, which has become as associated with Velour tracksuit-clad alcoholics sweating it out in rehab as it has been with just plain good velour, saw their signature fabric cut into a few stunning couture dresses and pantsuits.

What was most fascinating about this show is that it showed how malleable “real clothes” can be. All of these brands create products that can be worn by pretty much every type of customer. Champion sweats are at once the product choice of people recovering in hospitals, but once styled and proportioned and thrown on a cigarette smoking young thing with Sisters of Mercy on the headphones, Champion sweats become a different thing entirely. Doc Maarten’s even can be worn by a guy working construction with little or no care toward fashion and look just as good on an all black wearing Yohji Yammamoto acolyte. I love Raf Simons as much as anyone, but I’ll admit that you have to be pretty fashion forward to make Raf work for you. And fashion doesn’t work for everyone, it really doesn’t (even I usually opt for the same look of tight jeans and big safari shirts every day). Vetements is the first high fashion brand that seeks to provide a direct link between the world of wearable and lovable products and high fashion.

Vetements is absolutely disrupting the system. They are one of the first brands to offer a radically different perspective on garment construction while still achieving great success. Why is this brand showing during Couture week? Because they want to, goddamn it! Why would they show their new collection at department store Galeries Lafayette during store hours? Because they want to. Of course that isn’t only it, it’s that Demna and Guram are intimately acquainted with the benefits of an excited press. But more to the point, Vetements’ Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear show proved that Vetements is really “just about clothes,” but that there are layers of subtext to being “just about clothes.” Vetements is about the identity of clothes in relation to the identity of the person wearing those clothes. Vetements is about the myriad possibilities that live within a simple article of clothing. And Vetements is about freedom to wear your clothes the way that makes you feel like your coolest self.


Fashion Review: Paris Fashion Week SS 2017

Text by Adam Lehrer

Paris Fashion Men’s Week was in typical fine form, re-invigorating my own lust for fashion after a dreary Milan and an uneven London. Though the two shows I’m usually most excited for, those by Raf Simons and Gosha Rubchinskiy, already played out in Florence, their absence didn’t deter my attention. That would be mainly because of one man: Demna Gvasalia. Demna introduced Balenciaga’s first menswear show in history. The expectations between that notion, not to mention Vetements being the coolest brand in fashion and all that, were colossal. How did Demna respond to this soul crushing pressure? By creating entirely new menswear silhouettes. He needed not to flash or bedazzle, and instead created new shapes. A new shape in menswear comes along maybe once a decade, and that achievement can’t be downplayed. The hype around this guy is so high that in some ways you want to find things about him to critique: ridiculously expensive DHL t-shirts, all white models, pop stars using his clothes to look alternative, or whatever. But then I see the new Vetements collection and I’m just like, “Fuck.” I want all of it. Though entirely different than what he does at Vetements, Balenciaga had me similarly drooling.

And that wasn’t it. Rick Owens offered a radical showing of near-unwearable pieces that were beautiful and sprinkled with just enough accessibility to keep the buyers happy. Junya Watanabe offered his first show in a few seasons that didn’t generate racist controversy while introducing his knack for near-perfectly constructed everyday workwear. Dries Van Noten offered an incredible show that played out like a celebration of the beauty and art of fabric itself.

But Demna seems to be the designer ushering in a new era of fashion; just like Raf did before him, and Margiela before him, and Rei before him, and Yves before her. We are witnessing a designer reinvent the way hip kids dress. And the thing about the ways in which the hip kids dress is that there will always be the square types to catch on at some point, and next thing you know is that a seismic shift in the way people dress has occurred. Architectural suit shoulders might just be the new skinny trousers.



Balenciaga SS 2017: Architectural Solutions to a New Men’s Wardrobe

Demna Gvasalia asked and answered a series of sartorial questions with the Balenciaga SS 2017 menswear show. Can Balenciaga place as much importance on its menswear as its womenswear? Can menswear, in fact, be haute couture? Are there any new silhouettes waiting to be applied to a men’s wardrobe? And can a sleep Balenciaga collection still be in-line with the punker Eastern European aesthetic of Vetements? Yes, yes, yes, and fuck yes.

Demna Gvasalia is already understanding and re-interpreting the vision of Cristóbol Balenciaga in a way that Alexander Wang never could. The SS 2017 collection started with an unfinished Balenciaga coat that was then altered into an un-fitted, albeit beautifully fitted, tan trench coat. Like Balenciaga, Gvasalia understands that clothes need not to be over-adorned to be valuable. Instead, it’s all about fit and proportions. Clothes really stand out when either chic-ly loose, such as the incredible pleated double-breasted blazers, or skin tight, like the collection’s shirting and double-breasted jackets. As fas as patterning goes, everything here was fairly basic and isn’t far off from a J. Crew suit. But the structures made it revolutionary. All of these garments would need to be specially tailored for the client to achieve that revolutionary banality.

The collection got more “Demna” as it went on: snakeskin boots (dope), leather jackets and coats cut to similar proportions as the suits, cropped bomber jackets with the shoulders blown out, and dad caps. Everything here looked so different than anything I’ve ever seen, while being kind of similar to everything I’ve ever seen. Balenciaga has found its man in Demna Gvasalia, indeed.

Gvasalia is a capital D designer, which is what the brand needed. He has an intimate understanding of Balenciaga’s approach to clothes, but he is individualist enough to still filter his own sensibilities into it. The casting of disheveled Eastern European iconoclasts was as presents at it was at Vetements shows, with Vetements must and burdgeoning zine arist Paul Hameline making an appearance, styled by Lotta Volkova of course.

Balenciaga SS 2017 made we want to both get rich enough to afford, and get skinny enough to wear it. And fashion on this level SHOULD seem exclusive. It SHOULD make us want to work for it. That’s the point: if it feels within grasp than it’s just not really high fashion. In her book Fear and Clothing, culture critic and former NY Times Critical Shopper Cintra Wilson dedicates a passage to the fact that fashion has been at a standstill for some 20 years now; since Margiela came on to the scene really. But Demna, with Vetements and now Balenciaga, is really offering NEW styles of dress. Yes there is some indebtedness to the aforementioned Margiela and certainly to Balenciaga himself, but these are new shapes. And new shapes breed new styles.



Facetasm SS 2017: From Japan to Paris, Hiromichi Ochiai Sticks to his Guns



LVMH-shortlisted Hiromichi Ochiai has been showing his brand Facetasm (pronounced “FASS-e-Ta-sum,” according to the designer) in his home base of Tokyo since 2013. After being acknowledged as one of fashion design’s brightest talents and getting the chance to show in fashion’s conceptual heartland of Paris, you’d think the pressure would be stacked high on the man. But he stuck to his guns with this collection. Facetasm SS 2017 fit well on the Paris schedule, bringing some fresh design ideas to the city putting it along the likes of Vejas, Y Project, Faith Connexion, and other youthful brands reflecting Paris’s newfound status as a centre of radical creativity.

Ochiaii has a tendency to turn a simple product, like a leather jacket or a trench or a bomber, into a piece of clothing you see and can’t leave V-Files or Dover Street without. That was certainly in play here with v-neck kimono shirts that came embroidered with stripes, checkered bomber jackets with floppy collars and accompanying baggy basketball shorts, leather vests that look like gun holsters, and those aforementioned leather jackets with striped sleeves treated to look like they carry years of age. Ochiai’s approach looks odd and discombobulated, but broken down into products it will speak to a wide variety of fashion-crazed customers.



Yohji Yamamoto SS 2017: A Master Finds New Territory in Old Tricks

The thing about the Japanese master Yohi Yammamoto is that he knows exactly who his customers are and delivers the products they want season after season. 40 years into his career, he’s a cult designer (it’s a very large cult, but still). His collections range from good to sublime, but his masterfully crafted and heavily draped workwear jackets and trousers are always there. While certainly not a designer focused on nostalgia, Yohji’s collections present themselves as being removed from time. They are neither modern nor antiquated. The wearer has his look and there is no need to change it according to contemporary standards of beauty.

Yohji’s SS 2017 was one of his sublime collections. The show featured a number of tough looking (as tough as a modern male model could look anyways) guys wearing bandages on their heads, ankles, and wrists. The silhouettes were long but not baggy. They hung off the body enough to draw attention to the garment but not to overshadow the wearer. The trousers were big, and those in cotton looked soft as a Husky puppy. And what made this more than just a collection of good Yohji pieces were the embroidered prints that peppered everything from blazers to overcoats. Souvenir jackets are getting popular again amongst hip crowds, and why not? They are a great and comfortable statement piece that can be bought on Etsy for $80. But Yohji took the souvenir motif and applied it to beautifully constructed trench coats, crafted well enough to outlast any trend. Yohji never begs his customers to buy every piece. He has his Y-3 collection to make the big money. But his eponymous line always just presents his customers with new pieces that they can incorporate to their already well-curated and iconoclastic wardrobe. Those customers could certainly do well with some of these pieces. This was my favorite Yohji show in a long time.



Y Project SS 2017: Badass and Dandy (No Longer Mutually Exclusive States of Being)

Under the late Yohan Serfaty, who started Y Project in 2011, the brand was a little Rick Owens-lite. The problem with presenting a dark, moody, and billowing aesthetic these days is that there is no way you are going to do it better than Rick, and certainly no one will want it more than they want Rick. LVMH-shortlisted designer Glenn Martens understood that when he took over Y Project in 2013 and took the brand in a similarly aggressive but alternatively off-beat direction. Martens makes clothes for men and women that alternate between feminine and harsh, bright and dark, deconstructed and well-tailored. It’s a label of contrasts, and one that is great fun to buy into.

His SS 2017 at some points felt like a celebration of 1960s Havana gangster style: big and well-made suits, sometimes in pink. But a look later and a guy comes down the runway wearing a flower-printed see-through tank-top with the dude’s midriff totally exposed. It takes a lot of panache to wear this stuff, and I think Martens likes it like that. He likes daring his customers, “Put this on, c’mon, don’t be a wuss.” There were of course still looks that others could wear, like the dope elongated-sleeved leather jackets, or the trench coats that can be worn from the front and the back. To say Y Project’s aesthetic is all over the place is totally inaccurate. Instead, it juxtaposes two opposing dominant looks and clashes them together, allowing the wearer to look both alternative and tough while also looking (very) in touch with his feminine side.



Haider Ackermann SS 2017: Every Piece Should Be a Statement Piece

If you like Haider Ackermann you’re going to like Haider Ackermann’s SS 2017 collection. The Argentinean designer has a way to turn even the simplest pieces into a statement. A hoodie and sweats becomes a perfectly fitted and made garment under his design. Also, what’s even more admirable about the guy is that you can always wear his stuff your own way. His shows are more a suggestion of styling than a demand. His bomber jackets look as good with a pair of tight Levi’s as they do his skin-tight pinstriped silk trousers (Kanye showed us that).

Haider’s SS ’17 collection was exuberant. The blazers, skin-tight as per usual, were eye-blindingly bright and printed with some exotic motif. I loved the disco shirts that were tucked in with only the bottom button fastened; one had pink sleeves that fell inches below the model’s wrist. The aforementioned trousers came in every fabric and every imaginable print, more to the point that Haider’s clothes can be worn with denim, leather, or satin bottoms. It depends on the wearer really. There were women’s look in the shows too, that were often much darker than the dandified menswear looks. There is probably some statement in there, but who knows.

It’s also nice to have a fashion designer that makes garments that really pop with flash and style. Being an occasionally broke and mostly bad with money young writer and photographer, when I spring for a piece that I really want I really want it to be something that doesn’t look like it has a cheaper alternative. Haider makes sense for a money splurge. Haider is designing party wear, and thank god for that. While so many of our radical fashion designers are thinking specifically about what we want to wear to our design offices and studios, Haider wants us to dress up to the nines. Someone needs to.



Junya Watanabe SS 2017: No Accusations of Racism to be Made Here

Junya Watanabe has a couple of off seasons that saw him doing things like devoting a collection to African textiles and having all white guys walk in the show. It didn’t help that Watanabe is a salty guy that seems to hold, if not out right resentment towards the press, than a lingering dismay at having to explain himself to them (not even Purple Mag honcho Olivier Zahm could get much out of the designer when he interviewed him a couple years back).

SS 2017 was a rebound then. Instead of appropriating regional cultures, he looked towards the seedy side of sub-cultures (tattoo artists aren’t going to upset about seeing their looks used in a fashion show I would assume). Most of the models in the show were heavily tattooed (or welding fake tattoos when necessary). This could be boring but it looked cool here, and made these rather simple but incredibly well-made pieces a touch bad ass. The opening shirt and shorts combination is the type of outfit I’d want to wear all summer long. Easy to put on and take off while still making a statement. There was a criminality to this collection, mostly owing to the looks of Russian mobsters. This is also not new, or maybe it is? It seems like a look that has already been fetishized over but Junya made it look fantastic. Russian mobsters when naked look incredibly scary, with their all black grey tattoos symbolizing all manner of nefarious activities. But they clean up well (though he is a movie star and all, look at Viggo Mortensen’s character in David Cronenberg’s incredibly underrated Eastern Promises). But the tattoo motif carried over to the clothes here in the form of prints. There was the usual focus on craft and tradition that Junya has made his career with, collaborating with Levi’s on the wide-leg jeans and jackets, John Smedley knits, and Heinrich Dinkelacker shoes. This was definitely the most wearable of the Paris collections, but pushed by a palatable concept that editors and buyers can read into.



Rick Owens SS 2017: Subtle Evolution in Garment-Body Relations

Rick Owens, as always, put on a SS 2017 show worth noting. Rick has so firmly laid out the aesthetic of his brand that he can pervert that aesthetic subtly or not so subtly and use those perversions to slowly progress the identity of the Rick Owens house. How many designers do we see trying to re-invent the wheel every season only to come up with a bunch of overly-designed workwear products that makes no sense in regards to what people like about that brand in the first place? The Rick Owens universe is set in stone but it’s constantly stretching outwards.

SS 2017 started off predominantly in white featuring a series of looks that appeared like unfinished garments falling off the models’ bodies, taking on movements of their own. Aesthetically, imagine if Varys from Game of Thrones got really fit and managed to find a way for his clothes to dance behind him as he walked. It was hard to even single out individual pieces because they all blended into one hard-to-define look. Big trousers were a theme, and continued to be as the collection progressed and mutated in color. The light wool coach jackets came in brown, a faint shade of orange, mustard yellow and mustard yellow. Then there were some more recognizably Owens pieces: skin-tight leather jacket (one covered in jewel studs), a bomber jacket with fur trim, asymmetrical blazers, and a cut-off trench coat. Most of the jackets were cropped extremely high to the waist, allowing the massive trousers to stand out as the statements pieces of the looks. There was excellent use of prints, such as the cut-off sleeve kimono with a geometrical landscape printed in white to both lapels.

It’s hard to tell if some of the looks in this collection were a result of genius styling or fascinating design, such as the pieces that looked almost like t-shirts wrapped around the model’s body at various limbs. But either styling or design, this was another fascinating Rick Owens show. No designer on Earth is better re-defining the intricacies between the human body and its clothes.



Off-White SS 2017: Virgil Abloh Offers an Inclusive Alternative to Fashion Exclusivity


People have wanted to write off Virgil Abloh as a t-shirt designer from the moment he started Off-White. After designing an incredibly limited edition collection for Levi’s Made and Crafted and a Resort 2017 collection, no one can argue that this man has a grand and wide fashion vision for his Off-White label. But Abloh’s greatest strength is his fandom. He comes at garment design from the perspective of a fashion, music, and culture crazed kid that can’t believe the good fortune he’s met at being able to create his own brand. That exuberance was as infectious as ever at his SS 2017 show.  

The jeans and t-shirt look is still the foundation of Off-White, but Abloh more every season seems to make clear that the sartorial possibilities birthed from that conceptual starting point are endless. From Oasis graphics to see through t-shirts, short-sleeve baggy knits with provocative prints, to loose fitting jackets, Abloh has greatly improved the actual design strengths of his collection. But he also has grander conceptual vision, such as allowing fashion kids into his shows without invites and providing attendees with disposable cameras to give different photographic perspectives on his designs. The turn out for the show was incredible; aside from his usual crew (Luka Sabbat, etc), motherfucking Demna Gvasalia showed up to show Virgil support. Virgil needs to start being referred to as “fashion designer Virgil Abloh” and not “Kanye West’s best friend and creative director Virgil Abloh.”


Louis Vuitton SS 2017: After Years of Looking Abroad, Kim Jones Brings it Back Home

Kim Jones, sometimes referred to as the world’s greatest menswear designer, has looked all over the globe for styles to appropriate at Louis Vuitton. But for SS 2017, he fondly remembers the styles that have most defined him: the African textiles of his homeland, the punk memorabilia he collected by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren while living in London, and the high luxury of his adopted homeland of Paris.

The punk looks worked the best: if I was rich as fuck there is no way I wouldn’t want to spend $3,000 on an ultra-aggressive looking dog collar? There’s no better way to celebrate newfound wealth than with an accessory that says to your boss, “I’m not afraid of you bub, in fact: I’m coming for you.”

Everything Kim does at Louis just looks like clothes that you need to have, and this collection followed in that vein. Even a plaid crewneck looks so perfectly fitted that to not spend $1,000 on it feels like you are depriving yourself. The Sherpa crewnecks, dyed heavily in the prints of African textiles, were showstoppers. Paired with easygoing trousers, they were easily the most “I must have that” garments of Paris Fashion Week. I think that’s the beauty of Vuitton. It is the ultimate example of fashion consumerism, but helmed by a designer like Kim Jones (or Nicolas Ghesqiuere, for that matter), you find yourself sacrificing all of your socialist ideals and just giving into the temptation. True luxury should make you want to abandon your morals and be a part of the ugly machine. Louis Vuitton under Kim Jones goes way beyond a bag with a logo that says nothing about who you are. Not all the pieces are that easy, but they are so incredibly made that you find yourself disregarding that ugly history of fashion oppression. Let greed free you.



Dries Van Noten SS 2017: No One Really Gets Dries, But Everyone Wants to Wear Dries

Dries Van Noten’s FW 2016 menswear collection was a highpoint in his career: an explosive celebration of fashion’s relationship to the psychedelic prints of the 1960s. It was a hard show to top, and though SS 2017 didn’t, it came damn close. This show felt more like a celebration of the possibilities within fabrics themselves. Dries admitted to looking at the textile artists of the ’60s for this collection, finding new ways to drape garments as well as play with volume and proportion. That resulted in something as simple as a mock neck sweater in white looking transcendent: just baggy enough in the body to let the model breathe while the neck looking slightly disheveled and treated. But the textile explorations also worked towards incredible print and dye work. A tank top and shorts looked as close to a landscape painting as fashion gets. It was willfully experimental, but no one would look that weird wearing such an ensemble to the beach.

As always, Dries’ coats were next level, with fabric weaves and lines constructing from a myriad of different directions and concepts. The clothes looked expensive, which is always nice considering they are in fact really fucking expensive. But I’d say the real showstopper here was the knitwear, which looked like it had been weaved by a master from another era just hours before the show: colors and fabrics hanging loose from the seams both finished and unfinished simultaneously. When you look at Antwerp’s other most relevant and long-lasting designer (no shade towards Walter van Bierendonck, but he is starting to feel more kitsch as he gets older) Raf Simons, you see that Dries has gone in another direction that puts the two Royal Academy-trained designers at odds with one another. While Raf is consistently questioning fashion’s purpose and finding revelatory possibilities within fashion as a medium season after season (and making fire clothes all the while), Dries is still infatuated with the beauty wrought from the experimentation of fabric construction and garment design. There is a case to be made for both approaches in regards to what fashion needs right now.



Some Brands Need no Show

Plenty of fashion designers in Paris opted for buyer presentations over shows but nevertheless presented some incredible collections. Takahiro Miyashita, for instance, presented his best collection since leaving Number (N)ine and starting The Soloist, which charted the sartorial evolution of David Bowie but took all Bowie’s looks to the extreme. Phillip Lim’s SS 2017 collection wasn’t pushing any style ideas forward, but he did pretty much sum up exactly how I like to dress in the summer with cool denim pulled up high over perfectly fit short sleeve button downs. And former Balmain creative director Christophe Decarnin’s Faith Connexion is a revelation. With everyone looking tasteful and draped these days (post-Vetements world and all), there is something wonderful about a brand willing to put opulent trash back on the pedestal. With men’s and women’s looks in the show, Decarnin celebrated a kind of stylish ridiculousness that was tempered by a punk edge before veering back into golden Nutcracker absurdity Balmain territory.

Milan Fashion Week SS 2017

Text by Adam Lehrer

It was hard to feel optimistic about Italian fashion after Milan Men’s Fashion Week SS 2017. That’s not to say that there weren’t some great collections, they just happened to come from the reliably interesting brands: Prada, Marni, and Alessandro Michele’s continued Gucci revolution among them. But there was a palatable lack of electricity coming from the Milan menswear shows. Maybe I’m alone in thinking this way, who knows? But Italian opulence just feels increasingly less relevant. I was in Milan last year, and people weren’t dressed up in Versace gold lapels (for some reason I thought some of the men there might be dressed up like The Sopranos’ Furio Giunta). Instead, I found the fashion and art crowds to be dressed similarly to those in New York, London, and Paris: disheveled jeans, cool sneakers, big trench coats or denim jackets. Antonioli, Milan’s arguable coolest high fashion boutique, does far better business with its stock of Vetements, Alyx Studio, Raf Simons, and Rick Owens than it does with local brands like the uninspired Marcelo Burlon or the sharp but off-schedule Milanese brand Julius. As the world grows more globalized, people are becoming at once more homogenized and individualistic in their senses of style. Italian tailoring, as a result, has grown out of favor with fashionistas, artists, and musicians. But these things come in waves of course, and there were just enough interesting shows to argue that “this city will rise again,”  to paraphrase Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive.



Gucci SS 2017: Weird and Whimsical as a Collection, Desirable and Wearable as Products

Hedi Slimane was successful at Saint Laurent because he was able to create an aesthetic that was easily relatable and undeniably marketable while creating absurdly wearable products within each collection. Rappers, rockers, and actors all bought in and bought in hard, and Saint Laurent Paris was worn on everyone from Kanye and his shredded denim to Marilyn Manson and his leather blazers. Now admittedly, Alessandro Michele is a far more experimental designer than Hedi Slimane has been  of late(at least since his days as creative director of Dior Homme). But it’s starting to seem viable that Gucci under Michele could prove to be a financial success on par with Slimane’s Saint Laurent. The fey and whimsical aesthetic might seem jarring to most men, but it reels you in with a barrage of beautiful imagery. Everything from ad campaigns to the Gucci stores have become undeniably vibrant with Michele at the helm. Now that the public interest is at full tilt (Michele and Demna Gvasalia are probably the designers most captivating the industry’s attention at the moment, despite their markedly different aesthetics), he is now introducing key products to his collections that can become mainstays of the Gucci product line.

Michele Gucci SS 2017 menswear show was his last specifically menswear show, as Gucci will be presenting all its menswear and womenswear products via one show in season to come (like every other mega-brand, Gucci too is re-evaluating its business strategy to compensate for the speed of the industry). Its primary theme was travel, which also seemed to be Milan Men’s Fashion Week’s prevailing consistency. But Michele approaches the idea of travel from a different point of view than other designers. He himself has an aversion to physical travel, preferring the travels of the imagination that one experiences while reading a good book or, especially in his case, designing. At the show, he mentioned Marco Polo’s 13th Century travelogue. As a document, the travelogue’s accuracy has been widely disputed. This interested Michele: the travelogue is as much an ode to human imagination as it is to physical movement.

It also makes sense in Gucci’s SS 2017 menswear collection, which (like previous Michele collections) was so rich in ideas that each product could have pages of analysis devoted to it: men wearing womenswear and women wearing menswear, Japanese souvenir jackets decorated by American kitsch, satin suits, ‘70s Kentucky Derby referencing dresses and dresses, leather raincoats, dorky sweater vests, embroiderered tuxedos, and on and on and on.

But to get back to the Slimane comparison, Michele absolutely inundates his shows in product. But like Hedi, Michele is introducing pieces (the souvenir jackets, the loaders, the t-shirts emblazoned with graphic reading “Modern Future”) that could becomes staples of both his collections and fans’ wardrobes. Now that people are buying into his Gucci fantasy, they are going to be looking for pieces that make sense for them. Michele is both ingeniously subversive and inventively business savvy. He is every bit as good as they say he is.



Prada SS 2017: While Most Milanese Designers Looked at Travel, Miuccia Explored Forced Travel


As previously stated, travel was the big theme for Milan Fashion Week SS 2017. Travel is one of the tritest notions in fashion, but like Alessandro Michele at Gucci, Miuccia Prada draped her exploration of travel in conceptual ideas. While Michele’s were poetically personal, Prada’s were conceptually political.

In Prada’s SS 2017 menswear show, the models walked uphill while carrying far too much weight on their shoulders. It immediately brings to mind the forced migrations of Syrians fleeing their ISIL-ravaged country towards safety in Europe. There is of course a ton of baggage that comes with high fashion labels incorporating these sorts of humanitarian political messages in clothing, but that baggage never feels overly apparent within the work of Miuccia Prada. She is, after all, a noted communist. Despite her clothing fetching astronomical sums of money, she seems to hold the belief that quality products limit over-consumption. She has ideas and she cares. There are two Prada costumers. One just loves the idea of Prada as the pinnacle of all things “chic” and modern, and one really understands the messages set forth by Ms. Prada.

The nylon backpack seemed to be the centerpiece of this collection; blown out to gargantuan proportions, it seemed to emphasize the collection’s exaggerated sense of utilitarianism. While the garments looked rooted in active wear, they were also capital “F” fashion. There were plays on silhouettes and a wide range of color and graphic arrangement. There was something here for every type of discerning Prada buyer.



Damir Doma SS 2017: A Diversified Color Palette Lightens the Usual Shapes

Damir Doma is a lot more influential in that “ninja goth” thing that went on a few years ago than he ever gets credit for. His garments, usually all in black and draped baggy over bodies, are less conceptual than those of, say, Rick Owens, but also in some ways more commercial. But Doma has remained committed to his aesthetic even as that trend has died down, and maybe that’s why he’s still here when so many of those designers died fast and hard (anyone remember En Noir?). Those baggy and frayed clothes came in a diversified palette for SS 2017: black, white, hunter green, mustard yellow, and navy. There wasn’t much anything going overly conceptual here, but jut about any of the pieces would ne nice to wear. I’m as sick of writing about MA-1 jackets as the next person, but Doma’s were quite nice: baggy sleeves, loose hem, and kimono flaps that could be attached in lieu of using the zippers. I also love the t-shirts that came with an extra piece of fabric tye-dyed to look like red flames. The womenswear pieces were nice but all looked a bit too ‘90s Yohji to really make an impact. When Doma was still in Paris, he was massively overshadowed by the glut of revolutionary designers living in the city. Italy was a good choice for him; his slightly oft-kilter clothes allow him to provide welcome respite from the glut of corporate luxury houses.


Marni SS 2017: Consuelo Identifies the Male Counterpart to Her Waify Nerd Intellectual Lady

Consuelo Castiglioni has defined a whole genre of women with the Marni label. You know the type of woman that I’m talking about here: she works in a gallery or perhaps runs an antique design bookshop, she has big classes, a waif-y build, an a charmingly odd personality. Muses include Margot Tenenbaum, Patti Mayonaise, and the flashback younger version of Orange is the New Black’s most endearing paranoid schizophrenic, Lolly Whitehill. The label’s menswear offering have always felt less essential. Most likely this is due to the assumption that any guy who looks stylishly normcore doesn’t have much interest in fashion. The problem is that isn’t really true, and Castiglioni has finally defined the man who buys Marni with SS 2017.

Adorned in an inexplicable amount of Velcro, Marni SS 2017 was fashionably dorky, proving that a confident can be as magnetic as a confident whatever else. The first look was a doozy: a light blue leather trench coat over a sloppily cut suit and a checked shirt. Followed by an even stranger ensemble: leather shorts (!) checked crewneck, and flip-flops. Nothing quites makes sense with Marni, but when put together it looks quite well-defined.


Fendi SS 2017: Working Man’s Fabrics, Rich Man’s Garments

Silvia Fendi used the terry cloth favored by Pablo Picasso as the jumping off point for the Fendi SS 2017 menswear collection. Though not used in every look, the fabric was used in most and influenced the overall direction of the collection. That direction was laid back and luxurious. But that’s kind of what Fendi always is. So this was a pretty good Fendi menswear collection.

ANNND that’s really about it. It felt like Gucci was about to lead a revolution in Milan, but it seems more accurate that Michele simply had a revolution at Gucci. Most of the other good collections (Calvin Klein, No. 21, MP) didn’t use a runway show, opting to show off their garments to buyers. Milan Men’s Fashion Week was extremely lackluster.

Willfully Bizarre: The 8 Best Designers at LCM

Photograph by Morgan O'Donovan

Text by Adam Lehrer

London Collections: Men has arguably been the most exciting of all the fashion week’s for some time. With a slew of shows highlighting young talent (Fashion East, Central Saint Martin’s Graduate Show, MAN), it seems like every year fashion heads are treated to some new, mid-20s designer that looks poised to offer the world entire new codes of dress. But a whole lot of those once-young designers have become veterans: JW Anderson, Nasir Mazhar, Craig Green, Christopher Shannon, Christopher Kane, Matthew Miller, and more. These brands have found their target audiences while still continuing to expand upon and hone in on their wildly diverse aesthetics. This all seems to have resulted in a more matured and refined, if still wildly eccentric, London Men’s fashion week. These designers have already presented exciting and fresh ideas on how men should dress. Now they are trying to build viable global businesses. The primary takeaway from LC:M SS 2017 was that designers need not dumb down their ideas to become commercially viable, in fact it sometimes feels that the more willfully bizarre designers are becoming the most successful within London’s fashion circuit.

 

JW Anderson: The Modern Man Is Actually a Boy

JW Anderson’s clothes on his eponymous label (less so in his role as creative director of Loewe) are loud, goofy, and juvenile. And I mean that in the most complimentary of ways: his designs are fun. Anderson seems to embrace the overt kookiness of his collections, whether by presenting his FW 2016 collection over a Grindr live feed or extending his customer bases to Hip-Hop heads with a collaboration coming out this month co-designed by A$AP Rocky and to art-school dropouts with a collaboration with Larry Clark. His penchant for spontaneity manifests equally in the actual aesthetics of his garments. That juvenile flair became the focal point of his SS 2017 collection with its primary influence being French aristocrat, novelist, and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s titular character in his 1943 novella, Le Petit Prince. Literary critics often express their belief that Saint-Exupéry drew upon his own childhood for the book. Therefore, Anderson finds influence in the idea of young boy that has immeasurable access to art, fashion, and culture. But how does a boy process that information to find his own individuality? That’s the question that Anderson seems to be asking here, but revising the concept for the modern world. Modernity is Anderson’s ultimate end game. How did this manifest? Well, there was an arresting air of mish-mash in this collection: Pollock dribbles on long tunics, Surrealist prints, masculine utilitarian workwear draped over feminine skirt-length shirts paired with purses. The collection really nailed its concept: it was easy to imagine a young boy trying to figure himself out. Here was a boy trying to figure out what kind of art he liked, the politics he would align with, and where he lies on the gender and sexuality spectrums. Like the best designers, Anderson sells highfalutin ideas in packages of both high and lo-brow beauty. Even better? Anderson has learned business. There were products here that any man could buy and make work for himself, from a bomber jacket to those spectacular goggles all the models wore. The influence of Demna Gvasalia also felt palatable here with the ultra-long sleeves and architectural shoulders. Pioneers acknowledge other pioneers, I guess.



Craig Green: Bedding as Fashion, Fashion as Poetry

Craig Green is the avant-garde menswear designer du jour, but his SS 2017 collection felt like a step forward to commercial viability. While the designer still showed great imagination when it came to conceptualizing function in garment construction (hoods constricted to the head like bonnets, jackets that only covered the wearer’s front), it was also actually quite easy to imagine incorporating some of these pieces to one’s wardrobe. The brown coats, deconstructed and accessorized by multiple studded belts, are wildly adventurous but fit so poetically as to not make the wearer look ridiculous. Craig also seems interested in the garb of other cultures. He isn’t one so solely look at just Grime, or just Punk, but he has great care for the beauty of well-made garments. Many of the looks seemed to recall the simple but abstract look of wearing bedding around the house when waking up in the morning, but made to perfection and tastefully pin-striped. Craig’s clothes are also hard to write about, truth be told, but the hype around him makes perfect sense while watching his shows. Like Rei or Raf, the fashion show is to Craig what an installation is to Wolfgang Tillmans: the perfect summation of his creative thought process distilled for the world to witness and ponder.



Nasir Mazhar: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It (Just Build on it a Bit)

Nasir Mazhar has found his sub-culture. He is Grime’s high fashion patron saint, and no one does hyper-stylized sportswear as well as him. After a couple of all black collections, Nasir incorporated some outstanding color-blocking into his SS 2017 collection. The show started off with a look structurally similar to the past two collections: a magnificent track suit that was both loose-fitting but cut close to the limbs of its model. But as opposed to all-black, the jacket and pants were two-toned in black and a deep burgundy. There were some clothes that looked new for Nasir: a baby blue denim vest, a sleeveless fur coat dyed green, short rights with the upper legs exposed. But mainly, Nasir mainly dressed his diverse and gym-hardened models in a variety of sportswear with a flurry of utilitarian details (harness straps). Some might have grown bored with Nasir’s approach but that doesn’t matter. He’s found his customer base and the tracksuit to him is what jeans are to Levi’s: an utterly perfect product that customers will want to buy again and again. All Nasir needs to do is find new color patterns.
 

Matthew Miller: Early Skinhead Culture (Minus the Politics)

By now, we rightly associate skinhead culture with Neo-Nazism. But in its early days, in the ‘60s, it was actually defined by its rather progressive adherents equally drawn towards mod culture as they were towards the music coming out of Jamaica (Dub, early Reggae). Early skinhead culture, which has been basically eradicated from counterculture history due to being overshadowed by its far right nationalist counterpart, served as the primary influence for Matthew Miller’s excellent SS 2017 collection. Miller, however, said he tried to leave politics out of the collection (out of the ordinary for him), and for the better. By largely eschewing political sloganeering, Miller focused on the vibe of the movement. It was a softer take on skinhead classics, like bomber jackets and sharp cut blazers cut with sensitivity and draped, not to mention some lovely womenswear pieces. The clothes somehow managed to look hard and intimidating, while still revealing a femininity in the wearer, harkening back to a tough guy culture that preached equality and let itself be open to cultures from around the world.


Grace Wales Bonner: A Personal Reflection on Regional Styles

LVMH Prize-nominated designer Grace Wales Bonner, at age 25, has lit a match under the ass of the fashion industry: “Luxury can be marketed towards more people than just privileged whites,” her collections seem to say. Her SS 2017 collection, her debut on the LCM schedule (outside of the MAN show) was dedicated to the 1930 crowning of Ethiopian king Haile Selassie; a man both worshipped and reviled. In reality though, the clothes felt like a chic and European envisioning of traditional African garments. Though Grace’s garments have been nabbed up by a plethora of womenswear buyers due to their feminine cuts and decoration, she still uses dudes exclusively in her runways. She welcomes the business but she has, at least up to now, stayed true to her dream of the modern black man and shown little care for the played out gender fluidity trend. Alexander Fury, a critic far more experienced (and let’s face it, better) than I, noted in a review for Vogue how personal Grace’s collections feel, imbuing the experience of growing up with a Jamaican Dad and British Mom in London. The SS 2017 collection merged the ceremonial styles of Selassie with uber-luxe decoration, recalling the Sunday morning church styles of people of all backgrounds dressing to the nines and men getting away with any manner of flamboyant sartorial gesture. Grace is also primarily a designer of men’s suits, and yet she feels as radical as any designer on the circuit. Has there been a suit designer that has felt this anti-establishment since Rei Kawakubo started introducing menswear in the ‘80s? I doubt it, and fussily dressed men all over are learning whole new ways to wear their suits due to Grace’s work.


Kiko Kostadinov: The Fresh Prince of High-Concept Workwear

While still a menswear student at Central Saint Martin’s, Bugarian-born 26-year-old designer Kiko Kostadinov designed a 20-piece capsule for Stussy’s 35th anniversary that was sold specially at Dover Street Market. The collection featured a range of Stussy’s well-made skateboarding streetwear staples deconstructed and elongated and sewn back together: hoodies with sleeves ripped off and sewn back on, sweatpants made of different colored fabrics, baggy fits. The avant fashion and streetwear communities went nuts, and Kiko was already poised for fashion industry disruption. After a stunning FW 2016 Central Saint Martin’s graduate show, Kiko landed an exclusive deal resulting in Dover Street Market serving as the sole retailer of his garments for a year. After having shown his SS 2017 show, it is safe to say that Kiko is well worth the hype. Kiko is all about garment construction. You won’t find any patterns, eye sore colors, and certainly not useless detailing in his clothes. His favorite designer is Yohji Yamamoto: the designer’s singularly harsh, beautiful, and unfussy workwear speaks to Kiko’s own vision of fashion: “It’s all about cut and finishing—I hate decoration,” sais Kostadinov in an interview with the NY Times this week. “There’s nothing worse than finding a pair of trousers that are cut great but covered in straps that don’t do anything.” Kiko wants to make workwear for the modern active creative man: everything from painters to carpenters to (why not?) art journalists. His SS 2017 collection featured modernized chore coats, jumpsuits, and lab coats with headwear and tool bags used as accessories. He hand-dyed all the fabrics and incorporated the technical fabric Tyvek into the mix making the garments both aesthetically rich and functional as all hell. There is a palatable fashion revolution hitting its apex at the moment, particularly with menswear. Starting with Raf and currently represented by Vetements and Gosha, the aesthetics of avant-garde and counter-culture styles have never been more present in the industry. But even those designers more often than not make clothes that are occasionally hard to imagine being worn by people outside the industry. Kostadinov offers a high fashion option to the closets of style-conscious guys with natural aversion to clothes that look too “fashion.” The type of guy who puts himself together in a smart Stone Island jacket paired with work pants. You don’t need to adopt the “Kostadinov look” to wear his clothes. He seems to be a designer not only revolutionary, but also potentially commercially viable.



Aitor Throup: Back on the Schedule (and in our Dreams)

Argentinean designer Aitor Throup was a beloved designer on the London ticket just a few years ago when he put his namesake label into hiatus and went to work with the likes of UMBRO and G-Star Raw. Well, if anyone is worried that his time spent designing with those commercial retail giants would dull his taste for the bizarre, think again. Aitor re-introduced his brand with a SS 2017 collection presented via a performance staged by puppet designer and engineer James Perowne entitled The Rite of Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter. 10 models wearing masks animated a life-sized puppet wearing all-black Aitor Throup garments and pushed it down the runway mimicking a cat walk. This went on three more times. But it wasn’t just the abstract art that made this a great collection: the clothes were ace. Technically a capsule collection made to be worn cross-seasonally, the collection employed technical fabrics in all black and white to create deconstructed staples: trash bag looking bomber jackets, t-shirts, track jacket hoodies, and saggy but sharply cut backpacks. Also a standout: the all-white sock boots that look like the best futurist high fashion shoe in a decade not made by one Raf Simons or Rick Owens.
 

Cottweiler: The Tracksuit is a Permanently Evolving Organism

The conceptual sportswear design duo team behind the label Cottweiler, Matthew Daintly and Ben Cottrell, presented their first runway show for SS 2017 as part of the “NewGen: Men” showcase. Known for conceptual showcasing, Cottweiler drew upon the idea of “a future ruin of a hotel resort,” scattering the runway with shattered pink ceramic pottery material. In soft pinks and whites, the brand’s fetishization of the tracksuit continued with the use of Italian suit linen for incredibly soft and occasionally see-through track jackets, pants and shorts. It’s strange: Cottweiler’s collections more or less look the same. But the concept is so arresting, the look so beautiful, and the arrangement so organized that the brand’s presentations have become a hall mark of ideas in the industry. Can they do this forever? Probably not. But the look is unique enough that for now, their buyers will continue to eat it up.
 

 

Further Notes...



The New Kids on the Block

With the likes of Nasir and JW Anderson entering into the second phases of their careers, there is already a new crop of young designers that look equally poised for success following strong SS 2017 collections. Central Saint Martin’s educated Alex Mullins and Parsons educated Ximon Lee (fresh off a collaboration with H&M) both employed denim experiments so visually arresting they opened up previously unseen possibilities for the tried and true fabric. Charles Jeffrey’s Loverboy label used Woolrich-quality tweed and flannels, the dullest but most dependable of menswear fabrics, and altered them into club-ready and flamboyant party rude boy garb. Liam Hodges, the champion of mall fashion and Pirate Radio fans, was a little lighter on concept this season. But the clothes were still dope, with key products like worker jackets repurposed from Dickie’s but with the sleeves boosted to Vetements sizes and graphics emblazoned upon the back reading: “I’m OK.”


Also Good

There is something positively endearing about Stuart Vevers’ vision for Coach 1941. He is aiming for total commercial domination, and hitting bullseyes. There weren’t many products in the brand’s SS 2017 collection that I wouldn’t wear. He’s like the Joss Whedon of fashion, making predictably entertaining high trash for the masses. Astrid Anderson extended her luxed up sportswear fashion to a womenswear line, and it looked better on the ladies than it did on the men. Christopher Raeburn’s SS 2017 collection finally found an antidote for green fashion that doesn’t look right terrible. CMMN SWDN makes those minimal Scandanavian fashion styles quirky, fun, and uber-desirable. And, not the least bit boring.

The Radical Designers Re-Defining New York Fashion

Text by Adam Lehrer

Traditionally, New York City has been thought of as the most traditional, commercial, and retail-driven of the fashion markets. For the record, this is true. Designers here, by and large, are not as fueled by “the concept.” The fashion show in New York is largely not conceptual, not a story and certainly not art. You won’t have Raf Simons examining the lonely platitudes of the state of creativity, like he did with the Raf Simons FW 2016 collection (but with him rumored to be on the way to Calvin Klein, that might change). You won’t have Rei Kawakubo using the medium of garment design as pure creation. Most brands here, historically, have thought of fashion shows as product displays and the product itself generally has to be sellable. There have been exceptions of course: Marc Jacobs, Helmut Lang (who moved his brand to New York from Paris in 1997, shocking the fashion industry in the process), and Proenza Schouler among them.

But with the establishing of several new brands, those perceptions about New York as a fashion city are quickly changing. New York, perhaps more so than any other city in the world, is an art city. But for some reason, that notion was not always apparent from its fashion brands. But now with the interconnectivity of creative mediums more in your face than ever as a result of the internet, fashion is being embraced by the art savvy young crowd and you are far more likely to see not only artists caring about fashion labels, but also to see fashion people rubbing elbows with the art world. Perhaps this shift started with Hood by Air, a brand that became associated with its sexually and racially diverse customers even while it started blowing up in the mainstream. Hood by Air, whether you like the clothes or not, indicated that different standards of beauty applied to this new generation of creative millennials. It was like all of a sudden fashion realized that there was an untapped market of style obsessives that found beauty in face tattoos and oversized hoodies more than they did a Michael Kors cocktail dress. Since Hood by Air, several brands have started that are clearly appealing to the tastes of radical culture savvy and sexually adventurous art school drop out types. While everyone is still (justifiably) freaking out over Demna and Vetements and everything going on in Paris, there are just as many brands in New York after a similar market of buyers. These brands are selling with the promise of a concept, of an idea that you can buy into. These are those brands.
 

Alyx Studio


Alyx designer Matthew Williams is only 30-years-old; two years older than me. That thought is depressing considering the career this guy has had (and subsequently the one I’m trying to have). He has a knack for exploiting the inner punk rebel within pop culture icons; he grunged up the aesthetic of Lady Gaga as her stylist and helped Kanye become Yeezus (sub pink polos for billowing Rick Owens tops and shredded Ance jeans) as Creative Director of West’s Donda creative agency. He founded the DJ art collective Been Trill with Heron Preston and Off-White designer Virgil Abloh, blurring the lines between youth culture driven music and high fashion with designer collabs with Martine Rose and Hood by Air. It was only a matter of time that he’d be fueling his Southern California skate punk aesthetic into a high fashion label of his own and in February 2015 he did just that with Alyx Studio. In a profile, W Magazine noted Williams’ ability (alongside contemporaries like Demna and Virgil) to re-create the styles of underground clubs within the context of high luxury. His SS 2016 collection features a pair of worker jeans baggy at the leg and cropped at the ankle as to fall into a boot while carefully distressed throughout. A t-shirt in his FW 2016 collection is based on a t-shirt he tricked his grandmother into buying him in high school: an obscured graphic clearly reads “FUCK YOU” when folded. Cool fashion girls and the industry are responding. Even though Williams approaches growth slowly and responsibly, the brand is already stocked at Dover Street Market, Machine-A, and Colette and Williams has been shortlisted for the LVMH prize.
 

Eckhaus Latta

The little avant-garde fashion label that could, Eckhaus Latta designers Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta have been named to (my other regular publishing outlet) Forbes’ “30 Under 30.” Mike and Zoe are RISD graduates. The school may (or may not) have formed the brand’s DNA, which more than any other has tapped into the spirit of this new generation of New York artists. In an early interview with Interview Magazine, the duo explains that their early fashion memories are stripped of glamour: Mike fondly remembered his family’s utilitarian approach to dress and Zoe discussed discovering garments in the good will bins. They are more art than fashion, and their clothes reflect that. Using plastic and translucent leather to create early Margiela-recalling deconstructed garments mostly created for wear for both and all genders. Perhaps more so than any other brand, they capture the styles of those displayed by kids that hang out at art openings in Bushwick and spend their nights dancing to ‘90s R&B and harsh techno. The clothes are both easy and free but also odd, allowing comfort and a distinct sense of “hey take a look at that person” vibes. They are also smart and have played this aspect of their brand up, with avant-garde fashion videos, a FW 2016 runway show staged at MOMA PS1, and runway models consisting of hip folks like artist Bjarne Melgaard, musician Devonte Hynes (Blood Orange), and artist Alexandra Marzella. The brand has cultivated a customer base by making the base its friends.
 

Gypsy Sport

In many ways, New York is leading the pack in terms of diversity in fashion. I (clearly) am a massive Raf Simons fan, but he has only in the last few years started using models that weren’t uniformly white. Vetements, the radical brand of our times, feels much less radical when noting that Demna failed to use any models of color in both his Vetements and Balenciaga FW 2016 collections. But in New York, color (along with gender and sexuality) is not just utilized but celebrated (just look at Hood by Air). And it makes sense, I’ve always said the most stylish ‘hood in the Five Boroughs is Flatbush, a pre-dominantly black and Latino working class area of Brooklyn. Us New Yorkers see beauty and style in all shades. And no brand is celebrating ethnicity quite like designer Rio Uribe is with his Gypsy Sport label. The brand was started by Harlem native Jerome Williams, Uribe stepping in shortly thereafter. They garnered instant praise when they debuted their garments at the VFiles fashion show in 2014. Though Williams seems to have left (please notify me if I’m wrong about that), Uribe has maintained the aesthetic that appears to be a gender fluid take on popular urban streetwear labels with notable references to tribal warrior patterns and silhouettes. The brand has collaborated with ‘90s hip-hop culture labels like DKNY and Coogi while furthering its own aesthetic. What I find most fascinating about the label is that while it is heavily steeped in ‘90s New York urban culture, it has removed macho posturing from the equation. Take for example the FW 2016 collection where Uribe did a full menswear presentation full of abstract and feminine takes on streetwear while presenting some of the same garments in the womenswear collection. It is a truly modern manifestation of urban streetwear derived from the melting pot of culture that is New York. Aside from Hood by Air, there is no brand that feels so authentically inclusive and celebratory of real life honest-to-goodness people. Gypsy Sport is fashion as exuberance.
 

Moses Gauntlett Cheng

Of Moses Gauntlett Cheng, I believe Dazed’s Veronica So said it best: “Moses Gauntlett Cheng is really like a fashion version of an art school punk band – they create clothes out of an instinctive necessity to challenge the status quo, piecing together a brand with what they have and seeing what happens.” If Eckhaus Latta started the art-fashion crossover, Moses Gauntlett Cheng takes the concept and steps it up to a more extreme degree. Not surprising then that the brand’s founding designers; David Moses, Esther Gauntlett, and Jenny Cheng; all met interning at Eckhaus Latta. Moses has left the brand, but their gang sensibility remains strong. I once met Moses at an event at the gallery Signal in Brooklyn, and it was easy to see where the brand’s aesthetic comes from. The young art set the designers hang around are wildly stylish but doing so in a way that looks like they could care less about fashion even though they clearly do. See through tank tops and hiked jeans are made to look stunning. And even though the clothes are quite arty, there is an emphasis on quality with Moses Gauntlett Cheng that makes them appealing to those maybe less interested in fashion but still interested in clothes. Their knitwear, for instance, is tremendous and would appeal to someone who shops at Front General Store in DUMBO just as much as an Alexander McQueen obsessive. Even though Moses has moved onto the Vaquera label, Jenny and Esther keep the spirit of the brand that was founded by three friends in the back of a cab on a way to a John Waters event alive.
 

Pyer Moss

Fashion has never been thought of as a political medium, but it should be. How we dress indicates so much about us: our income brackets, our backgrounds, our interests, in some cases our sexualities and genders. Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond believes that all artists should reflect the times in their work, and in his SS 2016 collection he entered a cultural discussion few fashion designers have ever even publicly voiced their opinions on. In two shows, one for men and one for women, Jean-Raymond collaborated with Los Angeles-based visual artist Gregory Siff on a presentation entitled “OTA BENGA” named after a Congolese man who was kept in the Bronx Zoo in 1906. At the fashion shows, a documentary examining the wreckage of police brutality told through sound bites of victims’ families was played throughout. The show was deeply emotional and undeniably timely and catapulted Jean-Raymond both into the upper echelons of New York designers as well as established him as a political voice. Most fascinating is that when Jean-Raymond started Pyer Moss he consistently faced the lazy description suffered by other black designers (Virgil Abloh, Public School): streetwear. The SS 2016 show made the fashion industry aware of its own complicity in institutionalized racism. Kerby Jean-Raymond is a high fashion designer with a powerful aesthetic; streetwear doesn’t really apply to what he does. And even though he is already tired of his label being constantly associated with race, it is important to have a designer sharing his political beliefs at the cost of risky business. If fashion is really an art form than it must behave like an art form, and Jean-Raymond is not holding back.
 

Shan Huq

The Los Angeles native self-taught designer Shan Huq garnered attention with his SS 2016 show that was staged within the St. Marks church in the Lower East Side with the concept of turning the styles of Middle America mall rat youths into high fashion. And while the terms “mall rat” and fashion might seem like antithetical concepts, Huq found something endearingly romantic with the vision through short skirts, plaid shirts, cargo’s, and runner pants. His FW 2016 collection featured prints of reality star (and one-time porno actress) Tila Tequila across the back of shirts. Huq finds beauty within the banal. It almost feels like he is elevating the trash culture of the early aughts because, for better or worse, this was the first culture he was ever exposed to. Designing for both men and women, Huq brings some much-needed conceptual head fuckery to the New York fashion schedule. His lack of design training has allowed for him to heed the advice of no one. He likes what he likes, and he finds the beauty in what he is exposed to. Though he is aware of art, he actively avoids referencing most of it. In the process, he has been able to cultivate an insular vision that brings something legitimately new to the industry.
 

Telfar

Telfar Clemens is 28 seasons into his Telfar gender-neutral though technically menswear brand. So, he’s no spring chicken and certainly is not on the come up; he’s a veteran. But I feel it important to mention Telfar here, in that he was one of the first New York designers to actively rebel against the fashion schedule and commercial demands, in stead opting for avant-garde presentations and cultivating a small but loyal uber-cult customer base. Telfar’s designs are strikingly minimal; the designer incorporates what he calls the “simplex” aesthetic in which he mutates traditional garments like polo shirts and jeans by transforming belt loops into odd pockets and other small but strange flourishes. He has always been known for his multi-racial casting often featuring strong and broad men dressed rather effeminate and off beat. Telfar has always had a strong association with fine art and is proud of his label’s association with experimental garment manufacturing. The photographer artists David Lieske and Rob Kulisek used Telfar’s garments in a photography series based on early black metal. The models in the photographs wore traditional black metal corpse paint while wearing Telfar’s garments which emphasized the inner sensitivity and vulnerability that defines an artist working within a medium even as extreme as black metal music. And that is really what Telfar is about: letting the wearer’s soul shine through. He is extremely important to conceptual fashion in New York and the world.
 

Vaquera

Vaquera founding designer (former stylist), the Alabama native Patric DiCaprio, has a serious sense of reckless abandon in his clothing. The FW 2016 collection had a female model in skin-tight tye-dye leggings with an oversized trench coat opened exposing her tits, a male model wearing a short purple dress, and high-waisted pink pants with ruffled seams. He may have developed this “devil may care” attitude while growing up in the rural South where he painted his nails black and straightened his hair to accommodate his look for a string of goth and screamo bands he played in. It’s almost like the oppressive environment inspired him to stand out and be weird (“it’s being in an oppressive environment that really makes you turn it out,” said DiCaprio in a piece by Dazed). But in New York, especially amongst the art and fashion crowds DiCaprio has found a home in, having a striking look requires a higher degree of severity. It’s logical then that he has really pushed his fashion brand to the extreme in gender-blurring, overblown and tastefully distasteful silhouettes, and a freewheeling almost druggy aesthetic. Also, having gained mentorship from the founders of radical arts media platform DIS Magazine, DiCaprio has a rebellious “fuck systems” approach to fashion that feels generally authentic, whether it be staging shows at the Essex/Delancey Manhattan train stop or presenting the first clothes he ever constructed as the first Vaquera collection. Recently, David Moses (formerly of Moses Gauntlett Cheng) has joined the Vaquera party, and it looks like these two merry pranksters will be quietly disrupting New York fashion in the distant present.
 

Vejas

Sadly, the 19-year old architectural fashion master Vejas Kruszewski has moved his brand (you know, himself) from New York to Paris after being shortlisted for the LVMH prize as well as citing the incestuous nature of the glut of young New York brands (many of whom are featured here). So, technically, Vejas is a Paris brand now. But I’m still including Vejas here, because why the fuck not? Of all the designers on this list, Vejas is the brand where almost every piece I see I think, “I want that now.” The clothing is gender neutral, but Kruszewski is so in tune with the structure and shape of his garments that every piece is to accommodate both a female and a male frame. It comes down to a matter of sizing. Kruszewski started his label fresh out of high school without any design training, making his knack for pattern cutting and sewing all the more admirable. Kruszewski admitted in an interview that he still has a lot to teach his self, but believes his informal approach allows him freedom from preconceived notions of what fashion should be. The brand’s FW 2016 collection, which was its first shown in Paris, featured trans activist Hari Nef modeling a shaved goat fur jacket, a gigantic tote bag, and architectural knits. There is a certain intellectual trash aesthetic in Kruszewski’s vision that I find appealing; much of his garments remind me of the guys in Trainspotting (the most stylish menswear film ever) and their knack for blazers over camo t-shirts and suede jackets and drainpipe jeans. But the clothes are embellished, in structure not decoration, allowing for every piece to be highly coveted and extremely desirable. New York will surely miss Mr. Kruszewski, but his brand Vejas should prove a valuable addition to the Paris fashion revolution with Vetements Y Project, Gosha and the like.
 

Resort 2017 Trend Review

With all of the big-name brands getting their cruise shows underway, we’d be remiss not to start trend forecasting and give our readers the lowdown on which styles to start seeking for the ultimate resort wardrobe. So, what’s on the docket for this year’s summer trends, as told by the most influential names in the fashion industry?

First, let’s take a look at Louis Vuitton’s cruise 2017 show, which was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during Memorial Day weekend. Embodying the spirit of Rio itself, the collection was bursting with character and color underneath the warm Brazilian sun. Guests were seated atop a winding row of mismatched crates, which represented the technological factor of the show. The theme was a mix between futuristic imagery and artfully vibrant South American hues and patterns. A bit sporty and graphic, Fashionista described the collection to include “asymmetrical hems, peek-a-boo cutouts and lightweight layers” as well as “futuristic sparkle and killer accessories to admire.”


Then there’s Dior, who on June 1, decided to use cruises for a reason to pay homage to a storied past. Held in the Bleinheim Palace in Oxfordshire, the British countryside, the collection was one of “tailored Bar jackets abbreviated at the hip in typical Dior volume, signature bows, strict shaped skirts, voluminous sleeves, embroidered two-print tops, white layered shirting, and classic tweed coats,” as V Magazine reported.

It seems there is a marrying of the past and future for this year’s resort collections. With the fun, colorful side of Louis Vuitton’s cruise collection and the classic nods to cultured histories from Dior, we get a lot of ruffled Victorian silhouettes with beachy, carefree vibes that Lyst calls “handcrafted” in a report on embroidered, Spanish-inspired summer pieces.

Even Chanel, who showed in Havana, Cuba, in early May, was said to have a cruise 2017 collection that was “a cross between Parisian chic and Latin flair,” as told by Fashion Gone Rogue. With fashion royalty, Karl Lagerfeld, at the helm, Chanel’s collection had no shortage of classy elements like large floral and feather appliques supported by resort-friendly fedoras and other extreme nods to the show’s host country like military berets and light, army green jackets. Chanel’s cruise 2017 collection stays in line with the overwhelming theme signifying both progress as well as remembrance of the past.

For this summer, the fashion-forward crowd will be gravitating towards structured brims and glossy oxfords mixed in with Latin elements. Bold reds and oranges are on-trend, as well as chic, sleek androgynous shapes like wide-legged trousers. Balanced out with billowy, ruffled tops and sparkly, glam accessories, the fashion forecast is all about cultural acceptance and the joining of worlds.

Though throwback styles are still reigning supreme, tastemakers will want to look towards the future for additional style support. Metallics will keep burnt tones modern, and historic British styles can be updated with colorful pops of Hispanic influence. Be bold with your fashion this season, and don’t forget your ancestors! 


Image is the Chanel collection, individual photos from Fashion Gone Rogue


[FASHION REVIEW] Paris Ready-To-Wear Collections 2016

Text by Adam Lehrer

Demna Gvasalia is the newly minted king of Paris. Showing FW 2016 collections for both Vetements and his first ever for Balenciaga, Gvasalia proved that he has a concrete vision for how he thinks people should dress. At Balenciaga, he has already impressed his vision upon the house in a manner that Alexander Wang never was able to. Why is that? Most likely this is because Demna understands desirability of products, turning something as standard as a denim jacket into a contorted silhouette that looks totally unique. Wang is a marketer and a brand builder, but seldom do people hunger for his products the way that the fashion crowds have been hungering for the designs of Demna. Kering deserves wild applause for the hiring of the Vetements chief; it was a truly inspired and modern decision for a brand that saw its visibility wane under its previous creative director.

Other big stories were Dior and Lanvin that had to show their FW 2016 collections sans creative directors after the departures of Raf Simons and Alber Elbaz, respectively. Dior did ok, with its atelier coming through with a collection that at least looked like a Dior collection, though without the distinct ideas of Raf. Still though, I think I prefer it like this, considering Raf’s Raf Simons FW 2016 menswear collection was his best in seasons and I need cash flow so I can buy all of it. Elbaz was sorely missed from the schedule, and Lanvin fell absolutely flat without the man’s subtly poetic designs. If Lanvin doesn’t want him though, they should really start courting Haider Ackermann. His vision of fashion and his ideal customer is perfectly in line with the house.

Elsewhere, it was Paris as usual. The good stuff was great, the boring stuff was boring, there were Kardashians and Kanye, and Faith Connexion proved itself to be the newly buzzed about design team with a line of vintage grungewear taken to the highest degree of luxury (personally, I have no desire to buy my huge flannel shirts anywhere other than my local thrift, but I can see the appeal).


Balenciaga

I already knew that Demna Gvasalia was a perfect choice for Balenciaga for no other reason than that he is the most talked-about designer in Paris right now. But I could not have anticipated how well Demna was able to bend Balenciaga to his will. The avant-garde shaped denim, the gigantic double-breasted trench coats, and other Vetements favorites all were jacked up to Balenciaga quality for the magnificent FW 2016 Balenciaga. With Demna asking, “How do you persuade a woman to wear a two-piece suit who is not the German chancellor?” He answered by exaggerating proportion and silhouette thereby infusing luxury with a simultaneously more relaxed and striking visual appeal. Demna clearly had fun with the variety of fabrics now available to him as head of the house, making abstract sculptures out of puffer jackets, slicing shearling coats in half and reattaching them at odd angles, doing the same with a biker jacket (the best leather jacket of this season), and then allowing floral boho dresses to wave their freak flags. Best collection of the week; modernity incarnate.


Undercover

Jun Takahashi is probably still thought of as a menswear designer first, and Undercover a menswear brand. But the past few Undercover womenswear collections have been excellent, and this was a pinnacle. Setting the FW 2016 shows to Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day,’ Takahashi sought to make “relaxed wear for all ages.” To Takahashi, relaxed wear meant the obvious in print sweatshirts and relaxed trousers to the completely fucking bonkers in a gold printed dress with a wide-as-fuck skirt. Indulging his avant-garde whimsy, Takahashi also sent much of his models down the runways with headpieces that looked like the set design of Carcosa in True Detective’s first season (i.e. good season). I love how Takahashi is able to delineate between spectacle and products. He certainly has a flair for showmanship, but the indulgent demonstration never distracts from the desirability of the clothes. He’s the rare designer who is equal parts artist and product manager, trés Japanese indeed.



Vetements

I wasn’t as into this Vetements show as much as I was the Balenciaga show, but Demna Gvasalia’s design collective is at peak undeniability at this point. The brand’s superbly shaped oversized print hoodies were the most recognizable pieces on the streets this season, and the brand has certainly won over the fashion crowd in a way that seems more genuine than in past cases when something like the HBA logo was all over the place. Why is that? I’m not sure, but I think it’s because Vetements speaks to the modern fashion buyer more than other buzzy labels. You aren’t just buying into a logo; you’re buying a piece of creativity. Fashion is in a weird place now because everyone is making less money these days than they were 15 years ago. So, the women and men who get good paying jobs are probably too responsible and rational thinking to even consider buying a $700 hoodie. The fashion obsessives are mostly young artists and creative types; kids that can’t afford to buy everything but are style-obsessed enough to buy a product that they believe will make them look cool as fuck. Let’s face it: Vetements products do indeed look cool as fuck. Though I didn’t love FW 2016 as much as the previous two seasons, this stuff was still mostly amazing. Especially exciting was the menswear actually cut for men, such as the oversized western rodeo shirt and matching pants (I want one), the gold velvet unstructured suit, and a belted trench coat in camel. Demna incorporated some bondage looks into the womenswear, with a fantastic skin tight black leather jumpsuit and bombers with attached hanging chains that sort of collided into one another. There were riffs on Hot Topic outfits that looked awesome: punk, metal, rave, goth, and more. Demna is a connoisseur of all the disaffected youth cultures. The collection was shown in a church, because Demna said he was in a “dark place” designing this collection (maybe the prints reading “Sexual Fantasies were the reason for this, but I imagine the newly minted creative director of Balenciaga can’t be having much trouble getting laid regardless of preference). If that’s true, is it awful that I hope Demna stays in this dark place?

Side note: Veronique Hyland of The Cut pointed out the casting problems of the Vetements show. She is right; a brand that prides itself on being revolutionary should be casting diverse models. I don’t buy the excuse that they are casting friends of the label; surely they could find some non-white people to join their army. That is the same excuse Raf Simons used in his earlier collections, that he was casting the street-punk Antwerp youths that inspired him. But in his wiser age, his shows have grown more diverse and they have only made his brand more desirable. Kanye West and Rihanna are partly responsible for putting Vetements on the map. Diversify the cast and Vetements will undeniably be the coolest high fashion brand on the planet.


Noir Kei Ninomiya

I’ve been trying to limit my roundups to one Comme des Garcons-affiliated brand. And though Rei Kawakubo’s acid warped Victorian gowns were some fascinating art works and Chitose Abe’s Sacai collection had some decadent ornamentation, it was Kawakubo disciple Kei Ninomiya that I felt best exemplified his particular fashion philosophy with his Noir FW 2016 collection. Using all black of course, he had six models change outfits numerous times in an open space utterly devoid of any noise. Ninomiya is an expert at using details to convert wardrobe staples into avant-garde rebel statements: biker jackets, summer dresses, jacket and trousers, and Macintosh coats were all prominently featured in the collection, but appeared brutal, sharp, and unignorable. Ninomiya left his studies at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts to be a patternmaker for Kawakubo, and Kawakubo’s influence is undeniable. However, Ninomiya is still concerned with building a brand and innovating products that customers still want to wear. Now that Kawakubo has more or less made Comme des Garcons womenswear shows a display for pure creation while selling more conventional products to build revenue, it is Ninomiya that is best balancing concept and retail. He is constantly shifting form and structure, but these clothes would also look undeniably great day-to-day.

Givenchy

Of the big luxury houses, I think Givenchy is definitely my favorite. I loved Lanvin, but they are without a creative director. Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent Paris has been fun to watch him re-brand the label, but I am still irked by the idea of Saint Laurent selling cut-off denim skirts. Raf left Dior and Kris Van Assche has never really cut it for me on the menswear side of things. So there’s Givenchy, a label that is now as much the brainchild of creative director Ricardo Tisci as it is the brand’s founder Hubert de Givenchy. Yes, I’m arguing that Tisci is as important to Givenchy’s history as Givenchy himself.

At the time of Tisci’s appointment in 2005, the label was floundering. Alexander McQueen’s tenure as creative director didn’t work and Julien Macdonald’s was poorly received. Tisci made Givenchy culture-relevant again, noting the brand’s importance to a multi-cultural audience. He has a specific taste, and that taste has resonated with everyone from Park Avenue women to hypebeasts (those Air Force Ones he did were fucking uggo though, no? doesn’t matter).

Though it will be hard to forget the dark but soft romantic flourishes of Givenchy’s SS 2016 show that took place in New York last summer, the FW 2016 show back in Paris gave it a run for its money. Tisci’s last show was extremely tasteful, with soft fabrics, minimal details, and utter commitment to craftsmanship and quality of materials. FW 2016 feels more opulent, but was actually expressing Tisci’s newfound interest in Egyptian mysticism. The curiosity resulted in wild psychedelic prints, like mandala-decorated blouses and dresses that were not all that unlike Anne Spalter’s recent exhibit at Spring Break Art Show. There were the usual streetwear looks, but also extreme experiments in military tailoring with coats that outlined every sinew in the models’ bodies. Tisci doesn’t shy away from opulence, but he also doesn’t exploit it. What can I say? I’m a fan.
 

Ann Demeulemeester

Few designers have stayed as committed to their truest design visions as Ann Demeulemeester. So when Ann retired two years ago, it was hard to imagine her brand remaining relevant, and yet her protégé Sebastien Meunier has been so good as her successor that it doesn’t even feel like she ever left. Some would say that Meunier doesn’t have a vision of his own, but I tend to believe that Meunier is just a kindred spirit. Romanticism was the key word for his FW 2016 collection. But as opposed to the elation of romance, Meunier focused on the pain of love, emphasized by a raucous soundtrack of Swans’ ‘Screen Shot’ (is it just me or does it seem like Swans is becoming a fashion show staple? Yang Li and Siki Im have used the apocalyptic boogie of Michael Gira in recent shows as well) and a cover of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ as well as a reminder of the brand’s unique relationship to rare fabrics. The clothes were mostly black, and largely devoid of skirting, instead opting for Meunier’s singular approach to trousers. The best look in the collection was a three-piece suit, patterned in black and white with the sleeves of the jacket running well past fingertips and the trousers sitting up at the calves. For some reason I thought of the buzzy but decidedly excellent UK-based post-punk band Savages while looking at this collection, or perhaps just thought it would be amazing to see the band dress in these clothes.



Rick Owens 

We might as well just give Rick his own column because the man never ever disappoints. FW 2016 was different than his last three years or so of collections. There were no grandiose displays of showmanship. There were no black sorority line dancers, European metal bands, models wearing models, or cocks. There were structure, lines, silhouette, and virtuosic displays of draping. We all know that Rick is a master pattern cutter, but his products have more or less stayed the same for years. He has created so many garments that he could live off them for centuries. But Rick has been thinking about wastefulness. How can he infuse a product with enough of himself that people would never want to let it go? He did so by draping every garment until they were contorted into wonderful pieces or architecture. So even though the garments are going to be recreated, they will be done so with the exact lines cut by Rick himself. Who would ever throw away a piece of clothing that Rick had his hands on? Exactly.
 

Chanel

It must be weird for fashion editors that have been doing this thing for decades. That means they have been writing about Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel collections since 1982. It’s hard to find new ways to write about the brand, let alone for the 82-year-old Lagerfeld to come up with new ideas. And yet new ideas he comes up with indeed: airports, casinos, supermarkets, art fairs, Zen gardens and more are all recent Lagerfeld dreams made Chanel realities. Perhaps a little exhausted by the pressure to consistently come up with the world’s biggest fashion show, Lagerfeld focused on the clothes for Chanel FW 2016, 93 looks worth of clothes. Classic Chanel going on here, with feminine elegance as in the selection of pink dresses and delicate masculinity with Lagerfeld’s eternal takes on Coco Chanel’s power suits.
 

Dries Van Noten

Dries Van Notes has one of the most vibrant imaginations in fashion. He always has a specific story in mind, and fiction or non-fiction, he vividly bring those stories to life in garments. For FW 2016, his imagination swayed towards the love affair between early 20th Century poet, journalist, playwright, and World War 1 soldier Gabriele D’Annunzio and Italian heiress, muse, and patroness of the arts Luisa Casati. And despite this very succinct explanation, Dries still manages to never over-indulge his ideas in any way that would result in his collections coming off as kitsch. Casati’s pet leapords were exemplified by leapord prints scarves, trousers, and over-coats, but they looked smart and clean. As did the rest of the collection, with pin-striped jump suits, brown polka dot blazers clinging to the hips military-style, and a dragon-printed black dress. Dries is an artist, but he isn’t Leigh Bowery. He manages to find the art in fashion design while not allowing the art to rule over the need to make beautiful products that will be worn by his worldly and sophisticated customers. Between this and his FW 2016 menswear collection, it appears that Dries is back at the top of his game. God Bless Belgium.
 

Louis Vuitton

Unlike Ricardo Tisci who has utterly re-defined Givenchy, Nicolas Ghesquire works within a Louis Vuitton code but has re-interpreted it into his forward-leaning futurist vision. Ghesquiere’s Lou V collections keep getting better too. His SS 2016 collection was my favorite that he had done at the house so far, but FW 2016 is even better. His penchant for futurism was indulged here to the max with Louis Vuitton quality sportswear defining the collection. The mesh color-blocked jumpsuit and dress were the most adventurous pieces of this collection, and possibly of Ghesquiere’s tenure at Louis Vuitton. They absolutely worked too, and it was hard not to imagine Ghesquiere muses like Grimes and K-Pop star (and undeniable smoking hot beauty) CL wearing them. Ghesquiere has not steered Louis Vuitton away from luxury, he has modernized conceptions of luxury. Instead of just designing clothes for massively wealthy French women, he seems to very much revere the success of millennial artists. Bjork could totally wear this.


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Virgil Abloh is nothing if not self-aware of the prejudices that define the fashion industry and the people carrying those prejudices trying to hold him back. And yet, he has emerged as an undeniably fresh talent with a voice that the fashion industry desperately needs. His Off-White FW 2016 collection used a custom-made neon sign quoting the rude salesclerk in ‘Pretty Woman:’ “You’re obviously in the wrong place.” As a result, Abloh makes his own place, mixing streetwear and conceptual garments into a definable whole. Iris Van Herpen proved that fashion can be surreal by staging a truly remarkable show with models performing in front of optical light screens that acted as both mirror and window. Utilizing choreography by filmmaker and dancer Blanca Li, the models’ experimental movements emphasized the experimental nature of the garments: two dresses were made with 3D printing and some were made in collaboration with architect Phillip Beesley. Van Herpen seems to be the only designer around solely driven by a need to push the medium of fashion beyond expectations. Saint Lauren Paris FW 2016, possibly Hedi Slimane’s last for the label, did what the label did best: ultra luxurious clothes for rocker girls. But, the shows are starting to feel ever more predictable season-by-season. Maybe it is time for a change. JW Anderson’s work for Loewe is starting to make much more sense, as evidenced by FW 2016. As opposed to creating theatre pieces that merely draw attention to accessories, the clothes were extremely luxurious, such as an all tan leather look. Bernard Wilhelm continues to be underrated, and his FW 2016 presentation showing off menswear and womenswear looks drew upon African garb but made it palatable to a fashion-savvy audience. And the gods of Japanese fashion design, Yohji Yammamoto and Rei Kawakubo, didn’t disappoint (as if they could). Yohji indulged his love of goth, shaping dresses and jumpsuits as coffins, and the black lip-gloss emphasized the “death beauty” appeal. Rei Kawakubo imagined “punks in the 18th century” at Comme des Garcons and disregarded all worries about selling. Her designs reached peak decadence with abstract royal gowns that towered over their models like pillars. 


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[FASHION REVIEW] London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2016

by Adam Lehrer

London Collections. The young creative one. The cool one. All that. God it can be boring how the entire fashion industry jumps on the same narrative train. But it’s true at its core: London is the best city for emerging fashion talent. Of course much of the designers that helped put London on the map as a hotbed of radical fashion thought, like JW Anderson and Gareth Pugh, are in their ‘30s now and are entering into mature phases of their brands. Or if not more mature, at least older. Then you have someone like Molly Goddard who three seasons in already seems to be tapping into something that actually does seem to be missing from fashion, and not just in a stock quote, “I became a designer because I felt it was missing something,” kind of statement (usually that means there’s a rip in a shirt or something). Claire Barrow seems to use fashion more as a means to show her art, which is very cool and different and radical and I love her for it. And then Marques ‘ Almeida, fresh of its LVMH prize, is still nothing approaching commercial but still cranking out clothes that a specific customer can’t get enough of. So, as much as I hate these pre-written narratives, I’m in agreement with the fashion consensus: London rocks.

Marques Almeida

Designers Marta Marques and Pablo Almeida prefer a frayed and lived-in quality to their clothes. Less we forget the heavily treated and distressed denim pieces that the label made its bones with. And while their line of products has grown exponentially, the label remains intimately aware of its customer. That lived-in quality was all over the FW 2016 show. Watching it, I envisioned a strong and self-assured woman who had just finished a near-degenerate night of partying but finds herself not on a walk of shame, but a walk of triumph. The clothes, while gorgeous, make the wearer look incredibly self-assured. Not quite a “don’t give a fuck” vibe, but a confidence it one’s own beauty. With a perfect party soundtrack of contemporary hits by Beyoncé and Rihanna (two stars arguably at the zenith of their powers and making the best music of their lives), the pieces came in metallic leather and featured over-the-knee boots, corseted bustiers, distressed and fucked up looking bags, and so much denim. Blue denim dresses, blue denim hoodies, pink denim, and more all tied the collection together into the Marques ‘ Almeida world. This is the best the label has ever been.

Anya Hindmarch

Designer Anya Hindmarch locked her models inside a retro arcade game and it worked wonders. The garments while ostensibly minimal appeared retroactively maximal. A trench coat and a bag were emblazoned with visions of Tetris and creepy digital animated graphics were used as continuing motifs throughout the collection. Hindmarch’s customers are going to love this stuff regardless, but she really gives to the fashion press with awesome presentation. As someone who is more an appreciator of aesthetics than anything else, I must give Kudos to how thoroughly Hindmarch brings her ideas to life. The set, the lighting, the color-blocked garments, all of it made for something a little more special.

Gareth Pugh

I pretty much always include Gareth Pugh on my favorites list, but it’s clear to me now that he has softened his aesthetic approach and that is in no way a bad thing. He was once a disciple of Rick Owens and Michelle Lamy, and his clothes were fittingly brutal and architectural. He’s still conceptual, but his SS 2016 collection and his similar FW 2016 collection seem to have a sense of humor about themselves. For FW 2016, Pugh was playing with the idea of female authority; he examined the ways in which a woman commands the respect of everyone around them. The collection featured Pugh’s magnificently sculpted take on the female power suit alongside power suit glitzed up with star prints. I loved the masks clearly rendered from Hannibal Lecter’s infamous mouth guard, there was something very Margiela about them in a collection that was by most standards one of the most conventional that Pugh has ever designed. Pugh has struggled with money, even having had to squat for a period of time to make ends meet. He seems ready to make clothes that sell, but not ready to give up on his ideas. That’s a good thing.

Claire Barrow

Does showing 12 looks qualify as a “fashion show?” I don’t know and I don’t care. Unlike almost every other designer in the world, I can truly say that there is no one on Earth doing what Claire Barrow does. Into punk rock, the occult, and historical gangs, Barrow applies her illustrations to near every garment she produces. A pink tye-dye dress came blazoned with vague and slightly demonic faces, there were wide leg trousers with a dragon motif, and outerwear accessories like gloves and scarves were etched with patchwork graphics. Barrow truly uses her brand as a way to express herself and her interests, and her taste is so succinct that she is still able to find her customer. People want her outlook.

Molly Goddard

Molly Goddard gets talked about for designing party clothes. That is true, but she also seems to be designing party clothes for specific woman, maybe we could use Broad City’s Ilana Glazer as that ideal woman. The woman emanates a specific cuteness derived out of an immense comfort inside her body. She’s free. That party DNA is carried through the shows, which as planned by Molly’s friends and casted with women off the street that all seem to have that Molly Goddard vibe. On a set inspired by Tokyo Drifter, Goddard indulged her very pronounced for making dresses. Those dresses came in magnificent proportions, all ruffled at the hem of the skirt emanating playfulness ad seduction. Also of note were the sliced to almost nothing leggings that literally revealed half the model’s leg. Goddard at three seasons in has already carved out her fantasy woman: this woman might hate dressing up, but if she has to she is going to have some fun with it.

Simone Rocha

Simone Rocha just had a baby. With that, numerous fashion medias have tried to find a matronly theme in Rocha’s FW 2016 collection. But Rocha’s clothes, to me, are far too austere to draw upon any single narrative. Her presentations evoke a feeling, maybe a message, much more than they do a clear storyline. Like poetry. This collection shifted between romantic hues of white and sharp dashes of black, ending with a pink robe coat and a blood red dress. Romance was optimal here, with the knits and the dresses both winking seduction.

Alexander McQueen

Sometimes it feels like Alexander McQueen is still alive, and that is largely due to his protégé Sarah Burton’s unbridled dedication to keeping the conceptual approach of her mentor alive. Case in point, Burton’s FW 2016 Alexander McQueen collection. As the label should be, the clothes were opulent but simultaneously macabre. Describing the collection as a world between reality and dreams, the clothes honed in on something mystical. Evening gowns came with the metallic butterfly motifts, a dress exposed half the female form, and my favorite piece was a lace dress that had a unicorn graphic cover half the body. The clothes were so utterly beautiful it was hard to imagine them as corporeal, and that was probably the point.


Text by Adam Lehrer. Follow @AUTREMAGAZINE to stay up-to-date on the latest fashion.

[FASHION REVIEW] The Best and Worst of New York Fashion Week Autumn Winter 2016

Text by Adam Lehrer

As the fashion industry makes its trek across the Atlantic for womenswear shows in Europe, I think it’s time we start acknowledging the fact that there is something striking going on within New York fashion. While the common notion that New York is eternally more commercial than London or Paris is still true, it is starting to appear like that won’t always be the case. While there are still your Diane Von Fursternberg’s and Vera Wang’s and Ralph Lauren’s doing their wildly accessible products (and doing them well, of course), there is a real undercurrent of subversion going on at New York Fashion Week that is hard to deny. People often forget that someone like Marc Jacobs was at one point strikingly against the grain, and it feels like there are new designers in town picking up that mantle. This season, brands such as Rodarte, Eckhaus Latta, Moses Gauntlett Cheng, Creatures of Comfort, and more offered radical interpretations and presentations of the ways in which they believe that women should dress today. Less we forget the success of a brand like Hood By Air, which finds itself in a transitional phase after the health goth (whatever the fuck that was) craze dies down. Even big designers like Jeremy Scott present beauty and humor in equal dosage. All this tension (not to mention champagne and illegal drugs) between high concept fashion and big dollar fashion makes New York Fashion Week all the more fun.

What really separates New York’s younger conceptual brands from those in Paris is a sense of humor. Eckhaus Latta, which was just named to the Forbes 30 under 30, for instance very much comes off as a brand figuring it out as they go along and creating a never-ending party for their friends. Sure, something like Vetements can seem fun too, but it’s hard to imagine Rei Kawakubo cracking a smile to a joke she let slip in to a couture dress. Fashion is kind of silly at the end of the day. I mean, it is just clothes. Yes, it can be fun and interesting to critique these collections and identify the various cultural references within them, but they are still just very expensive things you put on your body, or don’t. New York designers seem to get that.

MARC JACOBS

When Marc Jacobs is at his best, Marc Jacobs is the best, period. FW 2016 felt like a return-to-form for Marc. It was all goth glamour and a macabre taste of the whimsical. Beautiful but not self-serious. Decadent but not opulent. Marc doesn’t seem to care about pushing fashion towards any future, as if we could actually define what that might be. He just wants to make excellent Marc Jacobs collections. This was one with the crazy huge platform shoes, concert sweatshirts paired with dollies, coats with useless but wonderful belt straps, and dresses oversized to bejesus and undersized to hell. Those dresses came glitzed up with spooky cat graphics, and pants suits came in black and white polka dots while shaped in the most subversive of cuts. Maybe some will say that Marc caught the Vetements but with the massive silhouettes, but subversive shapes have been Marc’s specialty since he turned Perry Eliis into a cool grunge brand. The soundtrack, silence sparsely interrupted by chimes recorded by Japanese free improv icon Keiji Haino, made for an utterly haunting collection. The Lady Gaga stunt casting didn’t even matter after the first look. Too cool.

THOM BROWNE

I really dig how Thom Browne’s man and woman dress pretty much the same. He might be the one designer who does weirder looks for his girls than guys, basically because his slightly strange power suits look more suitably odd on a woman. Odd, but awesome, I should add. Recreating Washington Square Park in the 1920s, or something, the collection found the women walking through a wooded lane wearing tweed, wool, and jacquard suits sliced up, sewn together, and re-appropriated for the uber confident alpha female. There was a tornado effect running through the clothes, and some things made absolute no sense. The usual Thom Browne customer is utterly well put together, so I don’t know id a dress or suit made of a dozen different patterns is going to have much market power. But does Thom Browne seem like a label that is financially strapped? Hardly. The shoes with the stripe logo will keep his fantasies alive for seasons to come. 

RODARTE

Rodarte is always quite amazing, but Laura and Kate Mulleavy really tapped into the ethos of the brand with the FW 2016 collection. The sense of subversive is in the ideas, celebrating femininity while incorporating leftist political ideals and never shying away from intellectual thought processes. With a non-flame retardant set designed by French furniture designer Alexandre de Betak, the Mulleavy’s tapped into the heyday of cultural importance of their Alma Mater: Berkeley in the 1960s. Was that so easy to pick up on? Aside from the Judy Collins covers of Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, maybe not so much. But the clothes were magic. The multi-colored furs, the leather pieces, the white coat/dress hybrid, and all those jet-black pieces found the models looking independent and hot. If I could pick my girlfriend’s clothes, they’d probably all look like this.

CREATURES OF THE WIND

Creatures of the Wind: first of all, great name! It sounds like a latter day new wave band that could have opened up for Flock of Seagulls or something. Second, the clothes are nice and subdued, but not at all lacking quirk. It actually reminds me of prime ‘90s Jil Sander with its tapping into the garb of New York gallery women (Tavi Gevinson is a fan, after all). Designers Shane Gabier and Chris Peters aren’t re-inventing the wheel, but instead seem keen on tapping into historical notions of modernity: the clothes first mentality of Yves Saint Laurent, the retro color blocking of Miuccia Prada, maybe even some of the philosophies of Franco Moschino. Some of the looks are utterly simplistic, like a trench over a dress. But then you see a gorgeous Asian model with a brown printed halter-top, extravagant trousers, and pencil thin sweater wrapped around her neck. In a brutally crowded and commercial schedule, this new brand doesn’t seem intimidated to be anything other than what they want to be: a high fashion brand.

ECKHAUS LATTA

The little art-centric brand that absolutely fucking could and clearly does. The RISD alumni designers Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta were named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 this year. Considering where this brand comes from (the art world, etc.), I almost assumed that that kind of exposure might unravel what it stands for. Not so much, as evidenced by FW 2016. If anything, more eyes have only sharpened the brand’s identity. Still tapping into their inner artistes, they staged the show at MoMA PS1, with an eerie ambient soundscape provided by Richard Fellyd setting the vibe. The immediately obvious thing was a massive sharpening of tailoring and textile skills by the designers. While the deconstruction that they no doubt helped back to bring in vogue was there, they also were undoubtedly luxurious products. Performance artist Julianna Huxtable wore a golden chiffon dress, and gold appeared throughout the collection. A pink pantsuit came with shorts and all sorts of architectural embellishments. The men’s looks (the actual menswear looks not the men in dresses) were nice as well, especially a patch worked turtle neck sweater. Eckhaus Latta is defining the fashion of New York’s burgeoning under 30-art world, and that sense of taste making reverberates throughout the culture.

HOOD BY AIR

It’s pretty clear that HBA is in a transitional period. Health Goth, that born to die sub-culture, came and went and seemingly did the HBA logo from street style photos. But HBA has always been about so much more than rappers wearing their hoodies. They did after all popularize the gender bending that every designer has taken on in one-way or another. For FW 2016, Shayne Oliver went back to his queer club roots and delivered the best HBA collection in seasons. Whether it was Beyoncé’s Formation, the most talked about track of the moment, shaking the ground as the show soundtrack or the appearance of Russian LGBT artist Slava Mogutin wearing a leather puffer jacket, it appeared Oliver was utterly comfortable in his brand identity as well as his own. Gender politics, queer issues, racial tension, and the sociology of now were all heard loud and clear through the presentation. Though Oliver moved the brand to Milan, HBA is still firmly representative of modern day New York. The bucket hats (made with Kangol, awesome), rubber waders, Emperor Palpatine hooded robes, and exaggerated straight jackets were made for NYC radicals and attention seekers. HBA is made for HBA, and no one else.

PROENZA SCHOULER

Set within the almost mystical walls of the Whitney Museum, Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez towed the lines of control and release with a collection of exaggerated silhouettes and tight lines and tailoring. Maybe due to the artist’s recent late-career retrospective at the museum, the designers cited Frank Stella as the primary influence on the collection. “We were looking at ways in which process informs the outcome,” said the duo to Vogue. That process was all about reconstruction, slashing the garments to bits and then putting them back together. Sweaters cut in half were tied back together with seams. A dress was slashed at the hip and at the shoulder, winking seduction. Proenza probably doesn’t get enough credit for their casual wear either: a leather trench coat with shearling collar, a red denim jacket recalls motocross, and a blazer looks re-imagined as a kimono. Everything luxurious.

PUBLIC SCHOOL

I have not always been mum in my criticism for the hype that surrounds Public School. To me, it always felt like the brand was just doing Yohji for a more commercial (New York) buyer. How many “high fashion for sneaker heads” brands do we need? But FW 2016 womenswear felt right. Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow staged their show at the Hauser and Wirth gallery, formerly the Roxy nightclub. Appropriate, considering the designers were tapping into the pre-gentrification 1980s glory days of this eternally transitioning city. A lot of the clothes would look as good on dudes as women, particularly the massive mock-necked faux fur hoodie in hunter green and the suede bomber jackets. The post-apocalyptic thing in fashion isn’t exactly new (Rick and Raf were doing these things 15 years ago), but Osborne and Chow have a way of taking experimental shapes and making them effortless and extremely easy to wear. I’ve never been particularly drawn to Public School as a menswear brand, but their ideas on women seem to more clearly spell out a particularly customer: a disaffected, jaded, but deeply intelligent anti-fashionista. Or something like that.

ADAM SELMAN

I have not always been mum in my criticism for the hype that surrounds Public School. To me, it always felt like the brand was just doing Yohji for a more commercial (New York) buyer. How many “high fashion for sneaker heads” brands do we need? But FW 2016 womenswear felt right. Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow staged their show at the Hauser and Wirth gallery, formerly the Roxy nightclub. Appropriate, considering the designers were tapping into the pre-gentrification 1980s glory days of this eternally transitioning city. A lot of the clothes would look as good on dudes as women, particularly the massive mock-necked faux fur hoodie in hunter green and the suede bomber jackets. The post-apocalyptic thing in fashion isn’t exactly new (Rick and Raf were doing these things 15 years ago), but Osborne and Chow have a way of taking experimental shapes and making them effortless and extremely easy to wear. I’ve never been particularly drawn to Public School as a menswear brand, but their ideas on women seem to more clearly spell out a particularly customer: a disaffected, jaded, but deeply intelligent anti-fashionista. Or something like that.

YEEZY SEASON 3

Maybe I’m a bit biased. Ok, I’m totally biased. Kanye West has been my favorite pop star for as long as I can remember, and being able to see 500 of his look on stage along with hearing his triumphant new record pretty much solidified that I was going to love this. But also, whether you love or hate his clothes it’s hard to argue that within a year he has already massively altered the fashion industry. He has brought distressing and militaria back to the forefront of fashion, with major fashion houses and H&M all ripping off the aesthetic and delivering garments of similar or (much) lower price points. I don’t go to H&M for a cheap blazer anymore, I go there for a massively oversized washed sweatshirt. As much as I’m sure fashion editors hate admitting this, Yeezy is as responsible as Vetements for fashion’s movement towards tastefully grunged out silhouettes. And Season 3 was just too massive to deny. Much of the aesthetic from the first two seasons carried over, but Kanye also tapped into the urban normcore aesthetic of his protégé Ian Connor as well as a little Balmain opulence with a lineup of mink coats. He also staged the biggest fashion show in history. People can hate him all he wants, but Kanye’s insistence on saying whatever he wants and being an asshole and yet still being judged by his artistic output, well that’s progress. That is freedom. This is America, and the man can say what he wants. I also love that, like his music, Kanye’s collections are the result of a massive think tank of ideas, with designers like Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia, Robert Gellar, John Elliot, and more all rumored to have helped along the way. Who else could get Pusha T to help him MC his show, or Cali DeWitt to do his merchandise, or Vanessa Beecroft to stage the biggest presentation of her life? So much to love, or loathe. So Kanye West.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Perhaps I’m just still trying to wrap my head around the Olsen twins being serious fashion designers, but their FW 2016 collection for The Row was the most luxurious display of minimalism New York has seen in seasons. Speaking of minimalism, Francisco Costa’s FW 2016 CK Collection line was crisp and clean as they come, if a little underwhelming on the ideas. More Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow, who seem to be on a real roll, their second collection for DKNY tapped into the spirit of the brand: downtown NYC in the ‘80s. Now that they understand the brand DNA, they can start building their own. Eschewing a traditional fashion show for a beautiful presentation, Moses Gauntlett Cheng imbued a sense of isolation and vulnerability into a fleshy set of clothes. The casting, made of friends of the designers Esther Gauntlett, Jenny Chang, and David Moses, provided an immediate sense of the customers who are going to love these clothes. It’s no surprise that they sold out at Opening Ceremony in a second. Gypsy Sport, showing many of the menswear looks we saw at NYFWM on models, solidified the brand’s vision with FW 2016: high fashion for those with no connection to high fashion but much connection to a sense of freedom. Jeremy Scott FW 2016 was fun, loud, and gross as he ought to be.

DISAPPOINTMENTS...

Alexander Wang, fresh off his freedom from Balenciaga, couldn’t narrow the focus of his FW 2016 collection. There was just too much going on, from political slogans to elevated prep. As much as I love Alice Glass, Travis Scott, and The Weeknd, I highly doubt anyone wants to buy coruduroy carrying the label “Alexander Wang.” Sarah Burton’s new McQ collection, showing in New York this time around, couldn’t seem to help but imbue the casual McQueen line with Vetements rip-offery. VFiles, which is traditionally extremely reliable with giving you a sense of interesting new designers, failed to deliver on that grand tradition with some rather underwhelming collections for FW 2016.

[FASHION REVIEW] Kanye West's Yeezy Season Three Collection

text by Adam Lehrer

I, admittedly, am a Kanye West apologist. I find myself profusely defending the man anytime a friend of mine has something even slightly negative to say about him. I, truly, am a massive fan. And then he has to go and drop a bomb like the “COSBY IS INNOCENT!!!” tweet and I’m left thinking, “Kanye why you doing this to me bro? You’re putting me in a tight spot.” So heading to Madison Square Garden in sub-freezing weather for an upclose viewing of Yeezy Season 3, (thank you Adidas) I had an unexpectedly sour taste in my mouth. It didn’t matter though..

Anyone who tells you something as blasé as “it sucked” clearly has a very personal hatred for the man in question. This was fashion as pop art and pop art as high-octane “Holy Fuck!” entertainment. Big is the operative word here. A filled Madison Square Garden gazing upon what seemed to be at least 500 models. For those naysayers of which I’m sure there are many of (though perhaps not as many as the 20 million fans that tuned into the presentation’s live stream however), try putting this into perspective: it was the biggest conceptual art project of all time and certainly the biggest presentation Vanessa Beecroft has ever assembled, the biggest listening party of all time, and quite easily the biggest fashion show of all time. It was so much more than fashion though.

As expected, celebrities came in spades for this show. The whole Kardashian clan: Kim, Kris, Kendall, Kylie, Kourntey, Khloe, and Caitlyn all came out to support. Pusha T swayed his head behind his brother Kanye throughout the entirety of the listening session. Vic Mensa showed up to play a new track of his own. I could have sworn I saw actress Shailene Woodley walk by as I found myself entrenched in the scene. Even our friend and artist extraordinaire Ryan Mcginley was sitting a few rows ahead of me wearing an excellent self-patched denim vest and dancing along with all the new Kanye tracks. The models, of which there were so many it was near impossible to identify them all individually, had a few celebs amongst them as well. In addition to Yeezy regulars like Ian Connor and others from the previous two seasons, Atlanta weirdo art rapper Young Thug and super super super model Naomi Campbell both found themselves center stage adorned in new Yeezy looks.

At this point, you have probably decided whether or not you like Kanye’s clothes. Personally, I love them (I’m wearing a Season 1 short sleeve sweatshirt that I got 80 percent off at Antonia in Milan as I write this, it makes me look like some sculpture artist or something), and it’s hard to doubt that Kanye has identified a look. I mean, every brand is ripping him off after just two seasons, from his friends like Jerry Lorenzo of the Fear of God label and Ronnie Feig of Kith to fast fashion conglomerates like H&M.

It appears that every season Kanye maintains his interesting palette of beige to black military garb but also implements new styles into the mix as the brand goes on. This season, he seems particularly taken with his young co-hort Ian Connor’s urban normcore look, as there were amazing overalls, college logo sweatshirts, and workwear pants in seemingly magnificent materials. At the same time, Kanye’s claim at the show that he sought to one day be creative director of Hermés wasn’t as ludicrous as it should have been with the introduction of some of his most capital “F” fashion pieces. Campbell led a group of stunning female models wearing honest-to-gooness mink coats. One couldn’t help but be shocked at the sheer volume of clothes. Yesterday I thought Saint Laurent’s 90 looks was pretty astounding, but this show numbered in the hundreds. There is such a cool posse mentality to the Yeezy brand. Like, you’ll look pretty cool on your own in this stuff but if your entire group of friends starts donning these looks, you guys will be a goddamn wrecking crew.

I don’t want to say much about the album, but I will say that TSOP (The Story of Pablo) is in no way a let down. It has that propulsive energy that I so loved about Yeezus but Kanye is once again opting to amp up soul and funk melodies to house tearing effects as opposed to experimenting in atonality. Most songs are bangers, but the record ends beautifully with the haunting Sia collaboration Wolves that was premiered at Yeezy Season 1. Kanye tweaked the sound a bit and it sounded crystal clear and almost psychedelic in its atmospherics.

The sheer spectacle of Yeezy Season 3 was unprecedented. Beecroft’s choreography was fantastic, applying the minimal approach of the first two seasons to an army sized diverse casting of youths. You’d find yourself gazing amongst the models and then catching an interesting detail: a female model puts her fist up like a civil rights sign (pun intended) or Ian Connor lights up a cigarette and puffs away. How this thing worked is beyond me, but Kanye’s DONDA creative team is really doing tremendous things. I’ve never really seen something so massive and mainstream present itself at what can’t be described as anything other than a magnificent temporal art work.

And it didn’t stop there. After Kanye’s record played, he expressed excitement about a video game he developed chronicling his mother Donda’s travels to Heaven. Yes you read that correctly. After a clip from the game was shown on the jumbotron, the crowd responded lukewarm. Kanye, looking stunned, scolded us, “You act like making a game about your mom traveling to Heaven is regular,” he said with a smile. And then he played the clip again. The crowd cheered loud the second time around. 

Click here to see more photo coverage of the collection. 

[FASHION REVIEW] Siki Im Fall Winter 2016 Collection

text by Adam Lehrer

Why are we always so thoroughly and eternally transfixed by the myth of the Vampire? Siki Im, in his FW 2016 collection playbook, tries to answer that question: “The represent a mythology of libido and destrudo. They seduce and prey, and kiss and kill. Some yearn for affection and compassion, but all question what it means to be human and liberated.”

I am thoroughly convinced that German-born and New York-based designer Siki Im would be ranked among the Raf Simons’s, Dries Van Noten’s and Gosha’s of the world if he decided to show his collection in Paris. His collections are beaming in interesting (and cool) cultural references at the same time as offering products that this critic wants all of. As stated above, Siki Im and Den Im FW 2016 explores humanity’s interest in vampire fiction. The notion of the hip, poetic, and artistic vampire is not new to fashion, arguably having been covered by designers ranging from Ann Demeulemeester to Rick Owens, but never has it presented itself as such a succinct idea.

Siki’s collection was oozing in references to goth and post-punk culture, with a soundtrack that started with goth Vampire post-punk band Bauhaus, finale’d with a track from the first Swans album Filth, and had people walked out to Joy Division. The music was welcome. It’s extremely nice to hear bands that you actually enjoy after hearing endless jungle techno tracks that usually fuel fashion shows.

Vampires were all over this collection, though. The amazing prints on the Den Im t-shirts depicted scenes from Siki’s favorite vampire films, the makeup was grotesque and monstrous, and the models (though racially diverse) all looked startlingly pale. And the clothes? Sublime. A stunning mohair overcoat in burgundy and grey blend looked akin to the striped robe worn by Tom Hiddleston in Jim Jarmusch’s vampire arthouse film Only Lovers Left Alive. The more streetwear-akin looks, such as a bomber over one of Siki’s excellent hoodies and jeans, came in blood red. Never have I thought I’d so desire a pair of bright red jeans. Siki, an architecture major and nerd, also paid homage to the German architecture and art schoold Bauhaus (happily sharing a name with the band) as evidenced by his magnificent leather work. A red asymmetrical leather jacket had sleeves coming down below the wrists but rolled up exposing only the fingers, while the seams moved triangularly away from the down zipper. There was really some excellent stuff here.

SIki Im is truly Autre’s kind of menswear designer, constantly engaging his creative impulses at the expense of commerciality. He shows no signs of being worried about whether or not Nordstrom will buy his collections. Perhaps chalk it up to his time under Karl Lagerfeld and Helmut Lang, or maybe just his commitment to the fine arts, but he does seem much more in line with Parisian and London-based designers than he does New York. And because of that, New York needs him, and his commitment to building the design identity of the city is admirable.

And if you’re wondering, Siki’s (excellent) list of favorite vampire films is as follows: Les Vampires (Louis Feulilade, 1915),  Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1929), Dracula (1931), Vampyros Lesbos (Jesus Franco, 1979), Nosferatu the Vampyre (Werner Herzog, 1979), The Hunger (Tony Scott, 1983), Der Kleine Vampir (René Bonniére, 1985), The Lost Boys (Joel Schumacher, 1987), Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow, 1987), Nadja (Michael Almereyda 1994), From Dusk till Dawn (Robert Rodgriguez, 1996), Let the Right One in (Tomas Alfredson, 2008), Thirst (Park Chan-wook, 2009), Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2013), GirlsWalks Alone Home at Night (Ana Lily Amirpor, 2014)

The only one I would add, personally, is Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction, Lili Taylor knocked that one out of the park. 

Click here to see the full runway presentation during New York Fashion Week Men's. 

[FASHION REVIEW] Greg Lauren's Fall Winter 2016 Collection

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. 

[FASHION REVIEW] Carlos Campos’s FW 2016 Collection And Other Highlights From New York Fashion Week Mens

text by Adam Lehrer

I was just starting to get that, “I hate fashion feeling,” while standing in line for the presentation of Honduran-born New York-based menswear designer Carlos Campos’s FW 2016 collection, I was starting to have a “I really fucking hate fashion,” moment. I mean, it’s nice to be included in this clusterfuck in one form or another, but there certainly aren’t a slew of my favorite menswear designers showing here. And some of the ones I do, like Robert Geller, Simon Miller, and to a lesser extent the somewhat overhyped Public School, must have forgot to send Autre an invitation (or not). Meanwhile, I’m sitting in line for 35 minutes for Carlos Campos. Not like this was a Comme des Garcons show or anything.

But nevertheless, the show went on. Campos’s ideal male customer, “a clean rock star,” sounds utterly boring. We already have John Varvatos, and really who can actually say that John Varvatos is their favorite designer? Maybe some frat guy with a little doh to spend at Nordstrom rack. But Campos’s FW 2016 collection was nice, with earthy palette of camel, white, and navy suiting, coats, and trousers. I quite liked the white overcoats that were a little boxy. The soundtrack, that started with traditional salsa music and moved into a David Bowie-propelled finale that brought some life to the collection overall.

So, some other highlights that I haven’t been able to see in-person but who needs to see anything in person to formulate an opinion, really? Patrik Ervell released images of his FW 2016 collection and I really think he’s still the best menswear designer in New York. He takes conceptual ideas and forms them into a palatable brand identity: excellent shirting, elegant bombers made of beautiful materials, and the best and most wearable jeans this side of Acne or Levi’s. It’s sort of a retro-futurist (ergh, that term) take on the Brooklyn artiste or poet or something, as evidenced here by a peacoat in green mohair, bombers with mohair collars, and a white alpaca jacket. There wasn’t one thing I wouldn’t wear. According to Vogue there are whispers of Patrik Ervell taking over menswear for an established house, and that would be pretty righteous if he found the right place. Daiki Suzuki’s Engineered Garments FW 2016 collection was what you would expect: mindblowing use of rich materials, sometimes in the same look. Excellent clothes for a Brooklyn bartender who makes more money than all other Brooklyn bartenders. Robert Geller’s predictably sick collection for FW offered an incredibly rich selection of dark Yohji-referencing poetic work and leisure wear in sheer, night black, while moving into earth greens and tans. The standout look to me was a green leather workwear suit under a mackintosh coat in black with tan trim, When the hell is Geller going to be considered the monumental designer that he is? The work he does now is far more desirable than anything he did with Alexandre Plokhov at his side with Cloak. 

Click here to see the full runway presentation.