Becca McCharen is Chromat's mastermind, but the brand has never really been ruled by one woman. This season, the architect-turned-designer's tribe included: vocalist/DJ/producer UNiiQU3, dancers Deadly Dose and Blue, jewelry designer Bijules, Philly's DJ Haram, and Utah outdoors brand Klymit.
"Klymit is really cool," a NASA bomber-clad Becca fangirled backstage. "Their pieces were on our mood board so a few months ago I was like, 'Maybe I should just email them.'" They said yes, gave her a bunch of high-tech inflatable camping mattresses that were wrapped around the bodies of her fierce female army, and also created custom inflatables from patterns Becca sent over. The partnership between a Bushwick-born fashion brand and a Utah-based camping company might sound unexpected, but Chromat's world abides by an open-border policy. And normalcy is a pretty foreign concept these days anyway.
"We started designing this collection right before the election, so the anxiety had already started to build," Becca explained. "But after the election and during everything that's come since, everyone is kind of reeling and figuring out how to survive."
UNiiQU3 and her two dancers led the resistance with a ferocious, empowering, pre-runway performance. "I told Becca I had this dope song that was really fierce and powerful and playful," the spandex-clad artist told us. "I feel that's very much what Chromat represents. Becca was like, 'Sure, you should just perform it.' I was like, 'Can I have dancers?' She was like, 'Sure!'" The Jersey club-inflected call to arms was followed by a radically inclusive cast of Chromat babes wearing inflatable life vests, plenty of pieces from Becca's consistently excellent Chromat Swim line, and enormous puffer jackets that demanded a woman's right to take up space. This was all anchored with delicate gold chains flowing from the models' mouths, courtesy of jewelry brand Bijules.
"It's a statement about things that are buoyant and how to keep them grounded, because if we continue to travel up and away, then we lose track of who we are," bling queen Kim Jules explained. "It's about coming back down." If the pieces look familiar, it's probably because she created a bunch of them — in the form of gold grills — for Erykah Badu.
The collection was a profoundly positive approach to a very turbulent time. "We wanted to make clothes that people feel safe in, because it doesn't feel safe right now," Becca said. "The people who give the clothes life — the models who walk in our shows — they're from our community and we're building this together. By us working together we're stronger, and we're resisting, and we're overcoming."
Text Hannah Ongley