If you want to see the future of fashion, look no further than Becca McCharen’s Brooklyn-based brand.
For the past five years, Becca McCharen has put her architecture degree to use on the catwalk rather than construction site. But the Chromat creative director's spring/summer 16 collection -- shown last night at Milk Studios -- drew inspiration from buildings, and then pushed it to skyscraper status. "Just like buildings adapt to the user -- open and closed, heating and cooling -- I expect garments to be able to know what's happening with your body and your environment," McCharen explained backstage. "This collection was further elaborating on the idea that clothing can empower the body and can make you feel strong."
Following last year's successful smart accessory collaboration with Opening Ceremony, Intel proved its fashion industry staying power by working with McCharen on a series of spring/summer 16 pieces straight outta Her. Powered by Intel's Curie Module (wisely named after another of science's most badass ladies), Chromat created ultra responsive garments that transform based on the wearer's environment. Pieces like the Areos Sports Bra gage body temperature, adrenaline and stress levels, responding accordingly by activating vents that cool down over heating.
If it sounds like we're getting into overly robotic territory, note that spring/summer 16 might actually be Chromat's most streamlined season yet. The brand's trademark sculptural banding was refashioned as more subtle details -- like cobalt accents on sleek sports bras. Micromesh insets across baggier basketball shorts and cropped tees proved chic accents to temperature regulating tech.
But McCharen knows how to captivate her cyborg crowd -- who turned out in full force to celebrate Chromat's anniversary -- and packed a few show stoppers among these sportier separates. Among them: the Adrenaline Dress. Composed of 3D printed panels of carbon fiber, the dress expands into an imposing, batlike shape when it senses spikes in its wearers adrenaline.
Although this season was powered by Intel's most cutting edge advancements, Chromat's vision of fashion's future isn't just about hi tech clothing. Since her first turn on the runway back in 2010, McCharen has cast the women she feels fuel Chromat's ethos of empowerment. South Sudanese super stunner and i-D cover star Alek Wek opened the show and was followed by a diverse cast of all skin colors and sizes -- including Denise Bidot, one of the proudly curvy models we'd hoped we'd see on the runway.
"It's important to me to showcase all the people who inspire us and who are doing amazing things in all different fields," McCharen said of her crew of "Chromat babes." "Chromat is all about women who are strong, powerful, and unafraid, so that's who we cast for the runway show. That doesn't have a size or gender."
Text Emily Manning
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans