why fall/winter 15 marks a new chapter for hood by air
Shayne Oliver probes the sexual politics of fear on the NYFW runway
Photography Kathy Lo
While Hood by Air's three-part spring/summer 15 collection dissected various facets of the male ego, fall/winter 15 saw creative director Shayne Oliver push that vision further by exploring another aspect of masculine psychological power: the allure of fear.
"I wanted to explore how men can use their energy in a positive or negative way: use fear to manoeuvre things or manipulate situations. So I started exploring different roles, particularly that of the pimp daddy," Oliver explained backstage. "On one hand, the pimp is imagined as a criminal, on the other, a sexy beast. I just found it interesting to play with both of these sides in one piece and see how that felt."
Exploring both sides arrived by way of intriguing proportional play: dramatic slits disrupted longer, flowing pieces while swooping, low slung backs gave new shapes to cut out coats. "There were a lot of plays on the antithesis of these guys," Oliver noted."If I was referencing a pimp, I'd also reference a prostitute. If I was referencing a sumo wrestler, I'd also reference a geisha. That duality is really where the silhouettes start."
Silhouettes, and beauty details. A diverse tribe of all colors and genders stomped down Oliver's runway sporting pantyhose masks with arrestingly exaggerated facial features: damp and matted hairlines, Groucho Marx eyebrows, and jutting angular sideburns. The masks amplified both notions of crime and masculine sexual power: "Sometimes when you're intimidated by someone, that's how you see their face. They're there, but all you can see in that moment is a blurred sort of coverage," Oliver explained. "I wanted to translate that feeling. I wanted it to represent an actual introduction to this person."
But this dynamic exploration of gendered power is only half of Oliver's story this season. The designer also saw fall/winter 15 as an opportunity to crystallize Hood by Air's uniform. "Usually, we think of a concept and design based on that, but this time I really wanted to have a wardrobe, a go to closet, a uniform," Shayne said.
Construction-wise, this uniform is spot on. Fall/winter 15's technical execution hit all the familiar HBA high points: pleats, zippers, lace-up stitching, belted straps, and killer cut-outs. The collection's buttery leathers, rich furs, and crisp cotton poplins signal a watershed moment in HBA's development from a series of oversized graphic t's sported exclusively by friends to an LVMH, CFDA, even Forbes-approved conceptual and commercial powerhouse. Oliver is no longer using Hood by Air to destabilize our notions of luxury from the outside looking in; Hood by Air has become the full-fledged future of luxury. This is his uniform now.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Kathy Lo