hood by air unleashes its iD at moma
Capping off his globetrotting spring/summer 2015 collection with a MoMA presentation featuring the likes of Mykki Blanco and Boychild, HBA head Shayne Oliver discusses performance, commerce and the future of the brand with i-D.
Last night, Hood by Air top dog Shayne Oliver staged the final part of his landmark trilogy of spring/summer 15 collection shows, "Commerce as Performance". Having presented part 1, "Ego," at NYFW before showing part 2, "Superego," at an abandoned office space in Paris, Oliver brought "Id" back to his home turf, throwing a massive rager at an entirely fitting venue, New York's MoMA. A night of immersive performances from the likes of Mykki Blanco and Boychild, "Id" did not present a new collection, but created costumes that brought elements of the previous two together as a unified whole, showing the world that Hood by Air is so much more than clothing. We caught up with Oliver before the show to talk performance, freedom, and the future of HBA.
HBA spring/summer 15 has been broken into 3 parts of the Freudian psyche: the ego, the superego, and tonight we arrive at the id, the most basic part of personality structure that dictates our desires. How will tonight speak to that?
When you're in your id moment, you're sort of on that platform in your head just being really free. So we felt like we should use the space to be very free. All the performances illustrate very intuitive elements of the design process for myself and when I'm corresponding with people from the team. It's how we think, what we listen to, and what motivates us to then create things outside of the id.
What motivated your decision to present in three distinct parts?
There were so many things that we were doing in the thought process of the collection that I felt like, because fashion wasn't necessarily used to it, people would just institutionalise as, "Oh, that's just his thing." I want people to understand that I'm not doing this as some weird, cool thing, it means something. The ideas behind it have integrity, they're extremely important ideas to people, and you should take them in the context that you take another designer that people consider to be contemporary or someone that would show in Paris, you know? We're playing with ideas of respecting and breaking down the institutions that confine and free our brand.
What kind of clothing will we see tonight?
We're doing costuming, so this time around, we're bringing all the psyches together; they're collectively playing parts in the costuming of the general show. There's also new costuming that we created that's sort of accessories that further elevate these mind states and mind frame of the person.
You were just announced as the next brand to present at Pitti. Can you tell us about what is planned for the presentation and what opportunities the resources from LVMH have opened up?
It's the first time that we're thinking of ourselves in that spectrum as a company, and I think it's a good place to launch that vibe. We're producing a lot of things in Milan, so the quality and construction will be on a new level. It's all formulated to come into this moment. We needed to have this break from being a runway company to sort of let people interact with us outside of the "this is a new brand," mentality. People stay classified as "new designers" forever, and I feel like this was a way to sort of get out of that. I felt I had to take my own precedent this season, and now, we're bringing it back together at Pitti. This will be a whole collection where you can buy shoes and a bag; it's not just these little pieces and knicks and knacks that tell part of a story. All these elements of the collection will be grown out and live as one whole person.
How does performance inform HBA's ethos?
It's the channel and the funnelling that we use when thinking about a collection. Who is this person? How do they act? Where are they at? Why does this person exist in life right now? I think that's what motivates the collection in general. It's why the collection is called "Commerce as Performance" because it's breaking down that person but outside of a fashion context.
It's also because I grew up as a dancer and the way I've expressed myself has always been to perform and to be very visual when I'm communicating with people. I'm very introverted at first and then I'll become communicative, but I wear my heart on my sleeve.
What's the most influential performance you've ever seen?
I saw The Fugees in the Caribbean when I was a really young kid. It's really embarrassing, but I had to use the bathroom and I literally pissed myself waiting. I was like, "I'm not moving, I'm not going anywhere, I'm watching this show full through." Bounty Killer came out and Lauren did this solo that was too major. She's my idol.
Tonight also happens to occasion the 5th anniversary of Ghe20 Goth1k. What's the most important thing you've learned over those five years?
I learned even more about communicating with people through my art and my work; being able to create a community, and to actually make commentary through tools that are popular. It's about using pop culture on itself, using what people understand visually since we've been flooded with so many images, pulling those references, being able to spit them out, and communicate a new idea. I've also grown my relationship with Venus and grown my relationship with all of my friends. It was a very healthy experience for all of us.
What's the ultimate dream for HBA?
I just want to leave something that feels great for people and people can say that they had experiences with and they remember the moments. The idea's constantly growing and evolving and I don't know what it's going to grow into yet. The interests change from day to day and something that I'm really interested in growing into today might not be what I'm into a year from now. That year from now idea is the one that keeps me moving and keeps the company going.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Barbara Anastacio