this is telfar's america
The designer's examination of 'country' took over Irving Plaza, replete with crowd-surfing models.
Photography Mitchell Sams
Famously, Telfar Clemens’ fashion shows are closer to performance than anything resembling a runway. This season, he brought his immersive spirit to Irving Plaza, where his legion of devotees got to combine the usual fashion week jostling, with the less usual fashion week pursuit of moshing. The Telfar show saw the models doing a swan-dive off the stage into the arms of the awaited mosh pit (or at least dancers positioned there), which is surely a first, even for a designer who revels in an unexpected staging.
Telfar’s an infamous collaborator, and this season was no different. Once you’d used your moshing skills to fight through the crowd outside, the evening’s festivities started with Telfar introducing playwright Jeremy O. Harris, who wrote the recently finished Slave Play, which won the Rosa Parks Playwriting award, and a host of performers including Oyinda and Butch Dawson. It was glorious chaos, as the models emerged to trust-fall into the arms, and slight weed-haze, of those below.
This collection was called Country, the designer giving little nods to what we think of as archetypal “country” wear — boots, chaps, and denim (and some fringing, obviously). The color scheme was similarly rustic, with maroon, beige, and various shades of brown writ large. Particularly great were suit jackets that allowed the wearer’s arms to hang outside the sleeves, the designer’s answer to deconstructed tailoring.
This being Telfar, the title of the show invited the audience to think about what country means — is it defined by walls and borders, who owns it, is it a place out of the city, or can you be country walking down Avenue A? The soundtrack of trains and the backdrop of the shredded American flag brought to mind various tumultuous periods and relocations in black American history, nevermind the one we’re experiencing now. “Country is a word against itself, its etymology - contra terra - against the land. Two meanings negating each other. Like a flag in negative space,” read a screen in the venue. The feeling one came away with was that this is Telfar’s moment — and his country. It’s a country we’d like to live in.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.