vfiles kicks off nyfw fall/winter 15

The image sharing platformed turned retail outlet has again reinvented itself as a launch pad for the best in global emerging talent. Last night’s show at Lincoln Center proved VFILES might be the future of fashion.

by Emily Manning
12 February 2015, 4:45pm

Lincoln Center has never seen anything like last night. The Upper West Side venue, which typically hosts the season's higher profile luxury shows, was swarmed by a hive of pastel colored faux fur jackets, sky high Buffalo boots, and lots of baby buns. Yes, VFILES and their buzzy band of downtown it-kid followers are officially on the map.

But what a better venue than the otherwise stuffy Lincoln Center to convey the brand's overarching message: the power of youth. Casting director Preston Chaunsumlit opened the show by wistfully cruising around the Pavillion to Yung Lean's "Yoshi City" on a customized Razor scooter. Flanked with high school basketball championship-style banners bearing each designer's name, Chaunsumlit was followed by the Mercer St. equivalent of Mary Kate and Ashley movie extras. A diverse crew of familiar VFILES fixtures, including Walter Pearce and Hari Nef, skipped sprightly down the runway in new VFILES Sport Plus offerings as if fourth period had just ended and they spotted their crush by their lockers.

This youthful exuberance was also evident in the designers selected for this season's showcase, none of whom are over the age of 24. Whether H&M Design Award-winning Ximon Lee's unexpected menswear silhouettes, or Aussie duo DI$COUNT UNIVER$E's even more unexpected poodle on the runway, VFILES' fall/winter 15 tribe cement its status as New York's launchpad of global emerging talent. We caught up with the four designers XimonLee, DI$COUNT UNIVER$E, Andrea Jiapei Li, and Julia Seemann, as well as VFILES founder Julie Anne Quay backstage to learn more about the collections.

Julie Anne Quay
How did you select the designers to participate in this season's show?
We do a shortlist and we then work through it with a group of mentors. Many people can design pieces of art, but we have to ask questions like: it it wearable? Can it sell? Will it translate to our customer? Can the designer do more than 10 looks, something in addition to what they've shown us? And what is their execution quality like? You see all of these designers and they can really execute, their stuff is amazing. We'll compile the shortlist and then go through with the mentors, they all vote, we examine the voting results, and then people start fighting for their favorites. But the whole process moves very quickly: we announce it, we give a month for people to enter, take two weeks to debate the designers, and then we give the winners a month to produce their collection to show. It's ambitious, but so doable.

How does social media factor centrally to VFILES?
We totally look at who's talking about what, who's sharing, who likes things, what's getting talked about on Facebook. VFILES exists in a social media ecosystem, everything feeds into everything else for us. Our community is so verbal. Everyone at VFILES is so open about who they are and what they do, and I feel like it's going to change the fashion business.

24-year-old Parsons grad Ximon Lee first wowed judges Luella Bartley, Lily Allen, and Tommy Ton and brought home the 2015 H&M Design Award earlier this year, making him the first menswear designer to earn the achievement since it launched in 2012. Last night, Ximon presented his all-star collection to the VFILES crowd, and told us a bit more about its influences: "The inspiration for this collection starts with this Polish documentary about Post-Soviet street kids," Ximon said backstage. "It really touched me, so I started tracing off some screenshots from the documentary about how the street kids were wearing what they were wearing. For them it's necessary; they have to layer to survive the winters." Ximon started amassing clothing from the Salvation Army and deconstructing it to mirror these amalgamative layers. Models even walked with painted mattress egg crates as accessories. "The collection really falls in different layers; you see a lot of different fits," Ximon added, "and that's taking from the fact that they have to wear whatever they can find."

After watching their hyper-pop, unabashedly embellished pieces cruise down the runway flanked by a show poodle, we officially want to be best friends with Cami Jones and Nadia Napreychikov, the peroxide punk Aussie duo behind DI$COUNT UNIVER$E. "We worked with an artist called Coffin Washer and he's so amazing. He designed artworks that we then translated to the collection," the pair explained backstage of their fall/winter 15 collection 'Dreams and Screams' influence. "As designers, our work is a constant continuation and we never work thematically. It's not like we're doing donkeys this season, you know? We try to just continue what we love from past collections and work with what comes naturally to us."

Andrea Jiapei Li
If Jacquemus and J.W. Anderson had a baby and made Raf Simons godfather, it would look something like New York-based Andrea Jiapei Li's fall/winter 15 collection. The at once elegant and sporty looks were some of the night's strongest silhouettes, playfully modern in their cool ease. "From the very beginning, this collection stemmed from a video I saw online talking about recording sound as a kind of emotion fabric. So I started thinking about what if I could transfer emotion into a fabric," Andrea explained backstage. "I looked at a lot of totally different fabrics together, and wanted the final look to convey elegance but a sense of sportiness as well." Mission accomplished.

Julia Seemann
Zurich-based designerJulia Seemann's fall/winter 15 collection was an object lesson in the importance of balance. Drawing inspiration similarly from workwear and the abstract art of fellow Swede Max Bill, "I wanted to create really feminine silhouettes with rough materials," Julia said backstage. "I was using a lot of denim and varnished it by hand. I worked with a lot of stiff materials, but always with the aim to create feminine looks with an extra twist. All of them have hats, so I also wanted to have this coolness to it, a little bit of elegance."



Text Emily Manning
Photography Kate Owen

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