how five genius men crashed new york fashion week
Although men will - finally - have their own New York fashion week this September, for the moment they still crash the womenswear shows. Here are five of the best moments.
The shows have ended, the dust (or in this case, snow) has settled, and as fashion week moves on from New York to London and beyond we take a pause to consider the most curious and exciting moments from the New York men's collections. From bold declarations of independence to personal but public displays of vulnerability, from the serious to the utterly silly, here is a look at the shows that left the lingering impressions.
10 Years of Telfar
It's hard to believe Telfar Clemens has been at it for 10 years - you wouldn't know it based on the designer's youthful vigour. But time flies in fashion and after 20 collections Clemens marked the passing by revisiting some of his favourite seasons and synthesizing them into a succinct message for fall. Reiterating his "Simplex" concept from spring/summer 15, the collection centred around a unique system of clothes with utilitarian intent and free of any overt gender bias and presented with a global perspective. These are garments meant to work for all people. It's an optimistic sentiment reminiscent of the radical 60s Austrian-American designer Rudi Gernreich. Like Telfar, Gernreich had a way with knits and used clothes as a means for social and political commentary. Here's to 10 years of Telfar - and hopefully 10 years more.
Siki Im Goes Hardcore
Im, who has some of the most exciting men's shows in town, played the role of curator this season with a presentation at a gallery in Chinatown. It celebrated the work of artist Clayton Patterson, who documented New York's Lower East Side and the city's hardcore punk scene in the 80s and 90s. Im teamed with the artist to design vivid and colourful graffiti style embroideries on dense black fabric placed throughout the collection. The clothes, as sharp as ever, were displayed on mannequins alongside documentary videos detailing the people and scenes of a lost New York. Musician Walter Schreifels, a veteran from hardcore bands like Rival Schools, Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits and Youth of Today, performed a live set. "These guys are my heroes, these are who I looked up to growing up," said Siki with the giddiness of a star-struck fan boy. As Shreifels' guitar reverberated through the gallery, and a mix of fashion professionals and hardcore lovers nodded along, the feeling was infectious.
That One Look at Proenza Schouler
Proenza Schouler's Jack McCollough and Lorenzo Hernandez showed one of their best womenswear collections to date this season. But snuck into their line-up of looks, easily missed with a passing glance, was a lone male model, look 21. His name is Jelle Haen, he's from Holland and he was discovered by the designers in Candy magazine. Slim, trim and shaved, he looked quite fetching in the women's samples which are, sadly, not to be produced for men. It was a tease but it was enticing and it immediately made you think about the possibility of a Proenza Schouler collection for men. If this is any show of things to come then please boys, bring it on.
Hood By Air's Empire
The first few moments of runway show for Hood By Air's latest collection was dramatic, with models in wide-cut, pleated trousers sweeping the runway to a bouncing club beat. Just as you thought you had the scene pegged, the thumping electronic track abruptly switched to a woman's voice, "I want to show you a faggot," she says, her words echoing throughout the venue. Some editor's eyes widened, others grinned and I'm certain a few attendees cheered. Repeated for the fourth time she finished her words, "I want to show you a faggot really can run this company."
It's an audio sample from the new soap opera Empire. The voice belongs to actress Taraji P. Henson who plays "Cookie," the no-bullshit ex-convict matriarch of an entertainment dynasty. The clip is from her defending her gay son Jamal whose homosexuality is scorned by the family's patriarch. The HBA autumn/winter 15 collection was called Daddy and took place in the heart of Wall Street. Oliver's message was clear, he's ready to take his business to the next level and the outstanding collection he showed did just that.
Bobby Abley's Jungle Fever
Abley's presentation of naïve, colourful streetwear, was a comforting and much-needed break from the subzero temperatures and fashion's own icy self-importance. Abley works in the tradition of Jeremy Scott, co-opting pop culture iconography and applying it to essential streetwear styles: sweatshirts and sweatpants, hoodies and parkas, all rendered with the air of innocence only a Disney cartoon could afford. Last season Abley sampled characters from The Little Mermaid, this time it was off to India and the animated adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. There were familiar friends Baloo and Bagheera, their faces printed on sweatshirts. The best bit was the model lounging on a giant banana with no cares in the world. I couldn't help but walk away humming the film's catchy theme, "I wanna be like you…"
Text Jeremy Lewis
Photography Mitchell Sams