eckhaus latta gets domestic for spring/summer 16
Dev Hynes, Grace Dunham, Michael Bailey Gates, and a crew of downtown nodels walked in the bi-coastal design duo’s show yesterday, staged at Ralph Pucci's Chelsea showroom.
"Seat" is often a very loose term at a fashion show. Sardine-squeezed rows of benches somehow less accommodating than those of a subway car is a bit more like it. So when I walked into Eckhaus Latta's spring/summer 16 show — staged yesterday afternoon at furniture firm Ralph Pucci's showroom in Chelsea — to find my assignment not a flimsy folding chair, but a mid century modern armchair stationed next to a chaise lounge, I was pretty floored.
"We're going to be doing a project with Ralph Pucci this December, but I think being able to show the collection here was also really nice in the juncture of how we play off the ideas of interiors, home spaces and domesticity" Mike Eckhaus — one half of the bi-coastal design duo — explained backstage. "It's an exciting context to have it all positioned in."
Editors' comfort aside, he's correct. The Pucci showroom felt elegant, yet intimate. Rich mahogany fixtures, plush hanging hammocks, and oblong glass tables provided the perfect setting for a collection largely characterized by quiet lust. Which is funny, because it began with drawings of a radioactive dog.
"We always begin by hunting for materials, but this collection started with the idea of a comic book — that 'Don't touch me, I'm toxic' line," Mike said, referencing a quote from a crudely drawn comic that not only served as the show's invitation, but appeared as a print on a bathing suit bottom, sweatshirt modeled by artist Bjarne Melgaard, and paper mache bodice. "That morphed into an image of clothes coming off of or shifting around the body. It's asking the question of how garments move. What restricts your clothes at times and how do you let that expand?" he explained.
Expansion was certainly the name of the game; Eckhaus and Latta showed 39 looks yesterday, a sizable shift in volume from past seasons. This bumper output necessitated a larger catwalk crew of downtown-cool nodels, including newbies Dev Hynes (who provided fall/winter 15's live score but took his first turn on the runway) and Lena's sister Grace Dunham, in addition to familiar faces Michael Bailey Gates, Juliana Huxtable, India Menuez and Ally Marzella.
As to how the garments themselves moved: light fabrics like linen, sheer wooly nylon, overdyed cotton gauze, and pique rayon made for looser silhouettes than in seasons past. The pair's structured shapes toyed with the idea of shifts, too. Cutouts — especially those featuring in two pieces created in collaboration with artist Annabeth Marks — gave the impression that they'd been spilled. "That idea of movement took shape in the drapery. But the way everything is processed, it's a little murky," Mike said. "At times it can be really rough around the edge — almost crumbling. A slit here and there."
"It's almost like a maze in here," an assistant joked as we walked around a smooth slab of coal placed squarely in the runway. But after experiencing spring/summer 16, the art object felt more like a pebble, passed over by Eckhaus Latta's river. "There's never a clear idea of what's going on, it's always a stream of thought," Mike said. "We link to each other and it becomes a pool, which is a fun way of constructing something."
Text Emily Manning
Photography Mitchell Sams