vfiles spring/summer 17 was as eccentric as its mentor, young thug
The first night of New York Fashion Week offered up a lively parade of synchronised swimmers, trinket-covered jackets, subway dance crews, deconstructed dry cleaning, teen metal bands, and anime-inspired dresses — all presided over proudly by hip-hop’s...
Now in its seventh runway season, VFILES — the ever-expanding digital youth culture platform — has created a winning template for its shows: crowd-source all talent (from designers to make-up artists) and partner these emerging stars with industry powerhouse mentors. Though this approach is tried and true, the VFILES tribe can never be accused of being formulaic; the global internet hive lives for next-level surprises and stunts — like the announcement of a brand new, star-studded roster of mentors, which includes Naomi Campbell, Pat McGrath, and Young Thug. The prolific Atlanta rap alien held court at last night's Spring Studios show, where a vibrant procession of international design talent proved a perfect match for one of his lyrics: "every time I dress myself it go motherfucking viral."
First up was Rushemy Botter, a Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp graduate whose 15-look menswear offering recalled political pieces by the storied institution's Head of Fashion, Walter Van Beirendonck. His diverse crew sported felt helmets and big, banner slogans like "enemy of racism" and "values and hope." These calls to action were printed on patches, trims, ribbons, and a towering headpiece. But Botter diverged from Van Beirendonck's crazy-colorful, structured silhouettes with easy, oversized suit elements crafted with silky fabrics. These fluid pieces arrived in sublime hues, like blush and deep navy. Botter has an excellent eye for detail without overdoing things; the daisy lacquer buttons that covered helmets and tidy trousers were perfect finishing touches. Thug — who was rocking one of Botter's looks at the show — apparently has a keen eye for detail, too: he took his mentor role quite seriously when he jumped up mid-show to straighten one of Botter's collars (all the while puffing on a blunt).
Botter's clean, louche tailoring gave way to its antithesis: a series of deconstructed sportswear pieces courtesy of Hong Kong label Ground Zero. Designed by brothers Eri and Philip Chu, the collection included an explosion of ruched and ruffled tracksuits, oversized denim dotted with patches, billowing floral dresses, and remixed suit elements. If Ground Zero's florals, hoods, and proportional play served a Vetements vibe, the designer who followed — recent Parsons grad Song Seoyoon — was having a bit of a Margiela moment. Seoyoon, who "uses the power of clothing as a medium to address social issues and sustainability," pursued texture and dramatic shape by incorporating plasticy elements reminiscent of garment bags and transparent protective layers into her designs.
Seoyoon didn't mask her models like the mysterious Belgian collective (rather, she treated them to smudged lipstick and slick wet hair, and became the night's beauty standout). But Barbara Sanchez-Kane sure did. The designer of Mexico-based menswear label Sanchez-Kane — who describes her work as "motivated by Mexican heritage, curated by emotional chaos" — assembled an explosion of colour, texture, and object. Some models wore pillow facemasks; others were covered in pairs of sunglasses, jewellery shop trinkets, security sensors, and fuzzy dice. One wore a "Make America Gay Again" hat; another had a giant metal ass.
But the night's standout was Alessandro Trincone, the Italian designer enjoying viral fame after Young Thug wore his anime-inspired creation on the cover of his recently released mixtape, No My Name is JEFFREY. Trincone's collection included more of these delicate, ornate, Japanese-influenced pieces, which diverged from the lols Mortal Kombat memes the JEFFREY cover has inspired. Thug himself seemed giddy, and stood up for the entirety of Trincone's slow procession, even filming part of it on an enormous iPad like a proud mom.
Despite this international focus, VFILES spread some local love, too. Flatbush-based teen speed metal band Unlocking the Truth performed alongside members of the W.A.F.F.L.E Crew, the gravity-defying street dancers who achieved notoriety with jaw-dropping showtime performances on New York's Q subway train. Thug's fellow ATLien Playboi Carti dropped in for a surprise finale song, and the night was kicked off by US synchronized swimmers who recently returned from Rio. VFILES likes a little extra show with its fashion, and under Grand Marshall Thug, season seven was one for the books.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Don Buckley