chromat autumn/winter 16
Becca McCharen's army of #chromatBABES lit up Milk Studios with lingerie and LEDs.
Photography Jason Lloyd-Evans
Capacious contemporary art gallery Dia:Beacon is only 60 miles upstate from the frenetic energy of Manhattan's Meatpacking District, but vibe-wise it's on a different planet. The gallery is where Chromat designer Becca McCharen has found inspiration for a number of the collections she's designed under her structural, experimental fashion label, including the autumn/winter 16 collection she presented tonight, as per, in the Meatpacking's Milk Studios. But if the train ride up the Hudson River was familiar territory for the designer, her runway show explored not just new colours and fabrics but wholly new horizons.
Most recently McCharen has been thinking about the color theory and light explorations of conceptual artists Robert Irwin and Dan Flavin, who share a creative philosophy similar to Chromat's. "[Irwin] designed [Excursus: Homage to the Square] to engage with the museum's architectural and lighting specificities," read the exhibition's curatorial notes, "a technique he has articulated as 'site conditioned,' in which "the sculptural response draws all its cues (reasons for being) from its surroundings". So too is Chromat's architectural lingerie and athleticwear reactive to its surroundings, specifically to the female body in all its multifarious shapes and sizes. From plus-size show-opening #ChromatBABE Denise Bidot (wearing an unapologetic platinum wig and neon LED light cage) to musician and muse Juliana Huxtable (sci-fi cool in a second-skin stretch mini structured by intricate chest scaffolding) Chromat's superstar lineup of powerbabes is alway one of the show's many highlights. Dressing diverse bodies, an act most designers approach with reluctance, is something McCharen does seemingly unconsciously. The designer casts only women she finds inspirational and empowering, whether she finds them on the boards at JAG Models or behind the decks at Bushwick's Bossa Nova Civic Club.
McCharen's loyal army wasn't denied anything in the way of fierce wardrobe additions this time around. Though there were plenty of the bondage-y bodices and harnesses the label has become synonymous with, the arrival of violently feminine lingerie complete with peach silk paneling and femme fatale garters received a resounding "YASS" and fervent Snapchatting. A pair of liquid silk trousers in a complementary maroon colour looked more appropriate for ass-kicking than for streaming something on Netflix. Granted, leisurewear isn't rocket science. But what was pretty genius was how easily the deceptively simple pieces were integrated with LED cage dresses that resembled radioactive sea anemones. So too with the responsive gloves made in collaboration with Intel Innovation and powered by a tiny chip module that can make the garment glow an infinite possibility of colours. Just as a museum installation can be viewed from a nearly infinite number of points within the building, so can Chromat be approached as the wearer sees fit. In this way the label seems both ahead of its time and thoroughly steeped in the now. Chromat's runway shows are a portal into the future of digitally optimised fashion, but any look could have been equally perfect for fall/winter 16's post-show pool party at The Standard's penthouse nightclub. Hopefully those LEDs are waterproof.
Text Hannah Ongley
Images Jason Lloyd-Evans