Closing the file on New York Fashion Week SS14: some final thoughts
New York fashion week ended Thursday with an apocalyptic-looking Marc Jacobs show featuring a spectacular set, cut-and-paste period looks, kooky home-cut hair and the theme music from Jaws – all in all a vision worthy of Tim Burton and quite brilliant. But by then I was already back in London attending the launch of the ICA’s amazing Off site exhibition to welcome myself home. So, as I close the file on the New York menswear shows for SS14 I attended last week, here are a few thoughts and images that didn’t make it into either the Guardian round up or my Duckie piece.
Duckie is always the best experience for me at NYFW: reliably confrontational and beautifully constructed. Frustratingly, I missed out on a second opportunity to see the stuff up close. London needs a Duckie Brown stockist so that we all have the opportunity to experience their cleverness at first hand.
As a non car enthusiast, the staging of the General Idea show at the Classic Car Club had me worried, but Bumsuk Choi’s use of shiny paneling for the sweatshirts, the shorts with the skirt like over-flap and the playful use of neoprene and sports mesh won me over. Not since the film version of J.G Ballard’s Crash has the fetishism of car design looked so obvious. Wearable is a word I try to avoid in my writing as it is often used with the intention of limiting the scope of menswear, but I definitely have the urge to try on Choi’s designs, and the sweatshirts, shorts and outerwear here all looked like they would be pleasure to wear: he gets the proportions just right.
Robert Geller was new to my list of NYC shows but a very welcome addition in retrospect. I was impressed by the cohesiveness of his vision and the strong palette with all those earthy greens and painterly clay colours. The bleach rolled prints, vertical stripes and powerful lines of the neoprene sleeveless jackets made strong statements individually and added up to an imprssive whole. The constructivist details on the back of the sleeveless jackets and on T-shirts was particularly fine. I’m looking forward to seeing more from him.
Public School provided one of the buzziest presentations in town (attended by the likes of A-list British designer Sonja Nuttall and legendary illustrator Richard Haines) and the most attitude-y models of the week. Despite those hand and facial tattoos, most models are good boys, often effete youngsters who skateboard off into the Chelsea dusk after the show, clothing samples tucked under an arm, but these young toughs seemed to be a tad bolshier. Above all, this collection convinced me of the amazing attention to detail that Public School designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne bring to their work: MA1-style bombers with mesh panel inserts, the delicate layering of the clothing, the mesh print on sleeves and the transparency play, all impressed. I definitely want one of the bombers… one sign of a great collection is when you’re left wanting to take something home (although there are also those times when you are just simply moved).
Speaking of being moved, Siki Im‘s shows always manages to convey a powerful atmosphere. This time the evocative show notes with the quote from Dostoevsky’s Crime And Punishment left me wondering how the lofty theme of redemption would be realised, but sure enough, the pared back space, the shrink wrapped bodies (reminding me of the cling film they wrap you in when you get a tattoo) and most of all the slap, slap, slap of those hospital slippers on the floor of the warehouse gave me real chills. I was glad to read Siki describing his inspiration as being ‘sexy prisoners’, a quote which which shed some humour on what was otherwise quite a bleak perspective. I love the way he uses the emotive power of colour and texture beyond the merely pretty and sensual and his understanding of physical space. Stand out pieces for me were the jumpsuits and the prison-tattoo motifs.
If there was any doubt about the trend I’ve been describing as ‘dark sports’ being actual, then it was dispelled at Rochambeau‘s presentation, where models appeared under actual black bunting. Here the sportswear pieces were modeled with a sense of menace, rescuing sportswear back from the jocks and wearing it with a knowing street presence. In fact, that seemed to be the message from NYFW this season: tough.
Inevitably, there was stuff I missed: Tim Coppens high-end sports separates, N.Hooolywood’s cowboys in soft-washed denims and pastel leather, Hood by Air’s gender blurring Boychild spectacle and Patrik Ervell’s sailor chic but hey, you can’t see it all. Until next time New York.