UN:DO Uses Fashion as Art for Debut Collection

Collages1021Does art reflect life? Indeed, it does. However, the bigger question to ponder is if fashion reflects life. At times it does, and at other times fashion can be the whimsical expression of a designer or a response to what retail stores believe consumers want to buy. Still, when fashion and art meet at the intersection of life whether that life expression is reflected in pop culture, political realities or social change, the results are groundbreaking and ultimately iconic.

When Coco Chanel realized that the role of women in culture had shifted, she created garments that gave freedom of movement, reflecting the changing role of women in society.  The bikini and the miniskirt were at the epicenter of the sexual revolution. Zandra Rhodes and Vivienne Westwood allowed their fashion collections to incorporate an anarchistic, irreverent response to Thatcherism. And 60s fashion was a reflective mirror to the freedom movements of Black Power, the Women’s Movement and Peace and Anti-War movements.

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If fashion can conjure up images of freedom, liberation, anarchy, or even a political stance, then why can’t fashion comment on violence? Enter UN:DO.

For it debut collection, “UN:LOAD,”  UN:DO’s creative director Jack Klauber looked to the epidemic of gun violence as a reference point. “Growing up on the southside suburbs of Chicago, I have experienced first hand the dire situation of gun violence in my own community, and have always felt a devoted need to help remedy it,” states Klauber. “Our partnership with Cure Violence was a no brainer for launching our first collection because not only does this profound non-profit originate from my hometown, it has sites all across America, and growing internationally. In addition to the fantastic work it does by reducing violence, it also provides much needed job opportunities to previously incarcerated individuals. Gun violence tears at the fabric of our society.”

Images courtesy of Seventh House PR

Images courtesy of Seventh House PR

Each garment in the “UN:LOAD” collection is shot with a 12-gauge shotgun creating a uniquely tattered, distressed look to each garment. “UN:LOAD” aims to reduce gun violence through the lens of fashion by creating awareness and raising funds to save lives in communities across the US, with 20% of the profits going to the not-for-profit organization Cure Violence. UN:DO is an ethically “Made In New York” brand, inspired by Berlin culture and the increasingly trending Brooklyn aesthetic.

—Staff

Libertine Spring 2017

 Libertine_Spring_2017Punk fashion is back!! After a three-year absence from fashion, Libertine has brought punk style back, but it returns the Libertine way!! Fashion designers/brands from Vivienne Westwood to Custo Barcelona to Hedi Slimane when he helmed Saint Laurent have found innovative ways to translate the anarchistic elements of the punk rock movement into a chic, stylish fashion expression that has relevance 30-plus years after the punk movement became a political and cultural force.

For spring 2017, Libertine has revisited that particular style and era. But, unlike fashion brands the conjured up punk style three years ago, Libertine went all the way back to this cultural phenomenon’s roots, Great Britain in the mid-70s. Remember, the punk movement in Great Britain was a direct response to the austerity of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. (Thatcher disabled many of the worker unions and reduced education programs in Great Britain during her tenure as Prime Minister.)

Collages922Libertine is perfectly poised to embrace the anarchistic, rebellious nature of punk style. As a fashion brand, Libertine’s creative director Johnson Hartig has always turned the brand’s nose up at polite fashion.

This spring 2017 season, several brands—Telfar, Georgine, Rinat Brodach, and of course Jeremy Scott—have pushed the proverbial fashion envelope by doing things their way and not genuflecting to certain fashion authorities that silently proclaim that retail value trumps creativity and personal vision. With this collection, Libertine continues its membership in the club of fashion freedom by giggling at the fashion elite with this collection. But, the brand kind of always does that!!

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Going back to his punk British roots, Hartig employs some classic British iconography in this collection. Coats are heavily adorned with Queen Elizabeth buttons and broaches. Union Jack motifs and even a Union Jack trench are incorporated throughout the collection, as well. There is tropical print with imposed images of the British band Wham and Bob Marley, a nod to the humor in this fashion outing. And in a tribute to the British punk movement there is a painted moto leather jacket with the emblazoned words “We Hate Everything.”

Images courtesy of Rodin Banca/wwd.com

Images courtesy of Rodin Banca/wwd.com

Hartig ingeniously takes all these punk references and 70s motifs and produces a collection that does something that so few collections nowadays do; evoke mood and have fashion-forward sensibility that stimulates conversations and excites the soul. Standout looks in the collection includes the pink moto jacket with matching skirt embellished with Georgian jewelry and Queen Elisabeth iconography, the portrait-painted jumpsuit, and Union Jack trenchcoat.

—William S. Gooch

 

Custo Barcelona Spring 2017

Custo_Barcelona_Spring_2017For Dalmau Custo more is more; particularly with the Custo Barcelona’s spring 2017. But than again, more is always more with this brand.

Industry professionals have come to expect “the more is more” fashion dictum from Custo Barcelona. Season after season, Custo Barcelona has excited customers and industry professionals with collections that demonstrated design acuity, bold color and lots of fabric combinations. So, one wonders how far Dalmau Custo will go with “more is more” fashion inspiration this season.

Collages963That said, Dalmau Custo went a lot of places with his “more is more.” Sometimes he went in the right direction, other times the piling on of ideas needed to be rethought. And though one would think Custo’s “more is more” would work best in the brand’s women’s wear garments, the brand’s “way more” worker much better with the men’s wear looks.

Collages964Custo Barcelona’s “more is more” aesthetic is evidenced in more elaborate textures, more hand sewn items, more wealth of materials, more creativity, and looks that exuded more power. That said; there appeared to be a70’s nightlife aesthetic throughout the collection. This point of view worked best in the over-the-top pieces, but in the more subdued garments some of the fabric and color combinations were incongruent and overwhelming. Perhaps, “less is more” would’ve worked in for some of the garments.

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What worked best in this collection were the separates that could have been mixed and matched with other pieces in the collection or items already in wardrobes. Placing emphasis on separates has been a very good projection for Custo Barcelona in recent seasons. Not every consumer is brave enough to wear many of the bold pieces in Custo Barcelona collections each season.

Images courtesy of vogue.com

Images courtesy of vogue.com

Still, it is debatable if this “more is more” fashion dictum is  a step forward for the brand. Better luck next season!!

—William S. Gooch

Berenik Spring 2017

Berenik_Spring_2017The athleisure wear trend has been around for several seasons, and though many brands have attempted to inject this dressed-down trend into their collections, Berenik has perhaps adapted athleisure wear to their design aesthetic better than any brand up to this point. Always known as a brand that pushed the proverbial fashion envelope, this season Berenik aimed for more retail viability. And this effort worked!!

Inspired by Veronika Brusa’s transcendent, meditative abstract paintings, Berenik, using a digital cloudscape print by Jack Hardwicke has infused the brand’s DNA of loose-fitting clothes with an interesting hodgepodge of meditative images and projections to inform a spring 2017 collection that goes beyond typical athleisure wear fare. This collection is more than an assemblage of garments that reflect millenials’ penchant for comfort and destination over style and sophistication, but a collection that expands the athleisure wear genre’s scope and style vernacular.

Collages892Berenik is proving that in this collection that athleisure wear can be chic, as well as promote ease of movement. And that the style genre can be infused with some tailoring and layering that speaks to a deeper conversation on what millenials might wear.

This is particularly evident in some of the men’s pieces that conjured images of early 70s rockers.  And some of the runners’ shorts and jogging suits also gave a nod to mid-70s style.

Collages893Though the more translucent and sheer garments hinted at a kind of slouchy sexiness, overall most of the garments in this spring 2017 collection leaned more toward androgyny. And isn’t this where fashion is heading, projecting, supporting, and merging concepts of masculinity and femininity in a society where gender norms are not only being questioned, but also challenged. (Just examine some of the male models in the show, who were not androgyny in appearance, but also gender bending in attitude and pose.)

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Images courtesy of Fernando Colon/Omen PR

If there was one downside to this outing is the lack of showstopper garments that could go viral on social media. Still, Berenik is not that kind of fashion brand. Berenik is a brand that is pushing the boundaries of fashion, and this season the brand has made its design aesthetic more retail friendly.

—William S. Gooch

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Blake Hyland Spring 2017

 Blake_Hyland_Spring_2017Blake Hyland has a reputation for outrageous clothes, and conceptual and deconstructed pieces made from recycled materials. For his spring 2017 collection Hyland focused on more practical wearable clothes while still maintaining his unique aesthetic. The results were stunning.

Though this is Hyland’s first time showing during New York Fashion Week, Hyland’s spring 2017 collection is his third collection. “I’m just trying to concentrate on making a more wearable collection for the majority of people but still having elements that are true to me and my style.” Hyland told Fashion Reverie.

Collages855For the spring 2017 collection, entitled, “Equality,” Hyland used black, white and varying shades of grey. Hyland combined these graphic, neutral colors to create dramatic eye-catching geometric shapes. Although the collection was clearly casual street wear, Hyland did uniquely juxtapose street culture against athletic wear, in other words athleisure wear. Hyland spoke of his influences “I grew up in a world of surfing and skateboarding, it seems to work its way into the clothes I design.”

After using black, white and grey, the final four looks incorporated red to make strong political statements that were unfortunately undercut by some questionable styling choices. One model’s long dark hair fell over the words on her chest, obscuring the message. Another had a hoodie layered over his political tee that featured Hilary Clinton—perhaps vomiting? It’s unclear.

Collages856The final look consisted of graphic tee of a washed out image of Donald Trump with “Erase the disgrace” in red type along with a black beret evoking memories of the 1968 student riots in France. The graphic elements combined with Hyland’s fabrics choices of silk, snakeskin, and linen, resulted in chic, dramatic and elegant pieces that were easy to wear that makes statements that are understood universally.

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Images courtesy of OMEN PR

While the crushing heat at the venue was reminiscent of Kanye West’s disastrous show on Roosevelt Island during the previous week, an audience member was clearly overheard saying, “This is what Kanye’s clothes would look like if Kanye was a really good designer.” Well put!!

—Cameron Grey Rose

Telfar Spring 2017

Telfar_Spring_2017Everyone has heard the oft-bandied adage, “Less is more.” This simplicity dictum that has been one of the tried-and-true principles of great fashion also applies to Telfar’s spring 2017 collection. Except, there is one hitch. Perhaps, Telfar’s spring 2017 collection should hinge on the not often heard or spoken fashion adage, “Less is deceptively more.”

Every season Telfar continues its signature design aesthetic of taken well-worn American sportswear silhouettes and turning these silhouettes inside out. In other words, creative director Telfar Clemens deconstructs and adds his eclectic twist on classics, reimaging these looks as functional and wearable garments of the future.

Collages917What works so well in this season’s collection is that Telfar Clemens injects a bit of tongue-and-cheek humor into each garment. The classic polo shirt becomes a commentary on gender bending, awkward sexiness. From the front the polo shirts look no different than the average polo shirt, except that collar may appear to be on backward. However the back of the polo shirt could be a total reveal, dipping to regions unknown or at the very least regions not talked about in polite company.

Collages918The continuing trend of cutouts also pops up in this spring 2017 collection. However, Telfar, true to his brand DNA, uses cutouts in an innovative and interesting way. There are no cutouts on the sides of bodices, as seen in most collections. Instead, Telfar’s cutouts are fleshed out, so to speak, in unusual locations. There are cutouts in the side legs of jeans, around the shoulder blades of polo shirts, and just above the chest of polo shirts.

Collages919And in a nod to the sameness and blandness of big retail giant colors, the brand makes use of what it calls Martha Stewart and Old Navy colors—lime, tangerine, and mid-grad blue bold colors. It was a though Willy Wonka’s ‘oompah loompahs’ fell into a bucket of Home Depot paint!!

That said; the inside joke is on the fashion industry that sometimes pretends to value fashion above clothes, but in reality mostly cares about retail dollars. So, Telfar sarcastically plays with this hypocrisy while at the same time repurposing some standard silhouettes into his version of fashion.

Images courtesy of vogue.com

Images courtesy of vogue.com

That’s right; clothes, which look, like fashion and are creatively fashionable!! In the words of Telfar Clemons, “Its not for you, It’s for everyone.”

—William S. Gooch

 

 

David Hart x Hart Schaffner Marx Spring 2017

David_Hart_Spring_2017Regardless of emerging men’s silhouettes that mix feminine and masculine elements, men’s traditional suiting is still the most popular male silhouette on the market. And the David Hart collaboration with Hart Schaffner Marx continues that tradition.

David Hart has shown consistent at New York Fashion: Men’s for several season now—first coming to fashion week prominence under the New York Fashion Week Men’s Day by Cadillac auspice—and he is known for a sophisticated style that pulls inspiration from classic male silhouettes of the 50s and 60s. (David Hart’s spring 2015 collection comes to mind inspired by Miami nightlife of the 1950s.)

Collages780For spring 2017 the David Hart x Hart Schaffner Marx collaboration drew inspiration from iconic environmental photography of Slim Aarons. For those not familiar with Slim Aarons, Aarons established himself as a photographer who shot celebrities of the 50s and 60s in easy, casual environments in formal clothes. Aarons most famous photograph is the 1957 Kings of Hollywood depicting Clark Gable, James Stewart, Van Heflin and Gary Cooper.

This collection is reminiscent of trips to the Maldives, Mustique, Palm Beach, and Provence in the 1960s. Imagine the 60s Brat Pack of Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Peter Lawford seen through a modern lens of sharp, color suit jackets and palm-printed slacks and you will understand the direction of this collection.

Images courtesy of fashionreverie.com/Ken Jones

Images courtesy of fashionreverie.com/Ken Jones

This David Hart x Hart Schaffner Marx collaboration does not break any new ground, and it doesn’t need to. It is beautiful men’s suiting in bold colors for beauty’s sake, and that is enough. And where in the past some consumers who have shied away from some of the bold, vibrant colors used in this collection, the modern male consumer is not so shy. And that is a good thing!!

—William S. Gooch

Eidos Spring 2017

Images courtesy of ISAIA

 For spring 2017 Eidos creative director Antonio Ciongoli looked to India, and more specifically Bar Palladio, a cultural hub where varied influences meet, and Bagru, a city outside of New Delhi where inhabitants use ancient textile techniques to create incredible fabrics by hand.  This ‘Bar Palladdio to Bagru’ inspiration has produced a spring 2017 collection that combines a fusion of traditional Indian textile techniques and modern influences. The ‘Bar Palladio to Bagru’ collection is an interesting departure for the Ciongoli/ISAIA team that usually finds inspiration from the rich textile traditions of Italy.

That said; this clash of seeming dissimilar influences of the ‘Bar Palladio to Bagru’ collection surprisingly works and has a lot of potential retail value. And the genius of this collection is in the different separates that can be mixed and matched with garments that are more standard menswear fare. The black herringbone jacket would work well with denim jeans; the linen knit Nehru jacket and be matched with a wide range of slacks, and even the yogi pants can work with a lightweight spring jacket.

Collages756And Ciongoli neutral palette of indigo blue, stonewashed ecru, and dusty tans make this collection have a wide appeal to international male consumers. Also marrying traditional male silhouettes with Nehru jackets, Monte and yogi pants demonstrate that modern male consumers can easily embrace this modern fusion of the old and new. Though we have seen the East meets West aesthetic before, Eidos presents this fashion cultural exchange in an innovative way.

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Images courtesy of ISAIA

Standout looks in this collection include Eidos’ navy/cream barre stripe fleece double breasted shawl jacket, natural/indigo slub terry barre stripe crewneck, hand dyed natural indigo khadi dhoti by EIDOS x Stoffa, cream silk and linen double breasted evening suit, white tonal slub barre stripe band collar popover, natural madder and harkat dyed herringbone head wrap by EIDOS x Stoffa, and the dark iron linen suit, white slub jersey knit kurta.

—William S. Gooch

 

 

 

 

Nick Graham Spring 2017

Nick_Graham_Spring_2017Samba dancers, tropical setting, carnival-like music conjures up images of Brazil, right? Well, not necessarily. For spring 2017 Nick Graham used these cultural references to give a nod to Cuba of the 1950s, the bacchanalian Cuba of glamorous nightclubs, decadence, gamblers, and playground of American high rollers. Behind this Cuban heyday was an undercurrent of change and Castro’s Cuban revolution.

“It was a fascinating period, with the Tropicana Club at the center of the action. Americans would come in droves and party like they couldn’t in the US,” explained Nick Graham. Once Havana fell, the Americans moved to Las Vegas, along with the showgirls and everything else that came with it.”

Collages785Like many menswear designers this season, Graham did not stray far away from traditional menswear silhouettes. Though we’ve seen all these looks before and consumers will love what Graham has done with reinventing the tried and true.

The beauty of this collection is in the presentation and the styling.  And having top models Sebastian Suave, Chad White, Kevin Sampaio, and Nick Truelove added to the professionalism and momentum of the brand.

A few seasons back, after not presenting collections during New York Fashion Week, it appeared that the brand was in trouble, and it was!! However, Nick Graham has back with a vengeance and is proving that by staying true the brand’s DNA of post-prep seen through the lens of youthful exuberance that a revitalized brand does not have go outside of its design aesthetic to retain its audience and expand its base.

Images courtesy of Tommy Iannaccone/wwd.com

Images courtesy of Tommy Iannaccone/wwd.com

Graham reinvents the brand’s design aesthetic by using Madras sport coats and shorts to create the new “tropical suit” designed for stylish summer nights.  Pulling from the images of the impending Cuban Revolution, Graham employs a hint of camouflage in blazers and accessories.

Standout looks in the collection include the skull-print sarong with cotton tank top and blue linen blazer, Camo blue baseball jacket with tee and blue jeans, and black paisley tuxedo jacket with black shirt and pants.

—William S. Gooch

Malan Breton Menswear Spring 2017

 Malan_Breton_menswear_Spring_2017Malan Breton has had a fashion epiphany. And it is about time!! After creating interesting collections for over a decade that sometimes bordered on outré unmarketable garments, Malan Breton finally hit the jackpot with his men’s spring 2017 collection.  And he accomplished this feat without sacrificing the signature DNA of his brand. Remarkable indeed!

For spring 2017 Malan Breton was inspired by a nocturnal walk through the forest of Taiwan’s Orchid Island where flora and fauna flora frolic under the glistening starlight, particularly the exotic butterflies that are indigenous to Orchid Island. This rather contrived inspiration was paired with the secondary reference to the Academy Award–winning film “Alice’s Restaurant.”

Collages767Aptly titled “Severance,” which was defined in the collection’s liner notes as a division is two parts, is the rightful moniker for these two dissimilar ideas. That said; how the this two disparate motifs came together in Breton’s spring 2017 collection is beyond comprehension; however, the two polar opposites aside, Breton produced a spring 2017 collection that cohesively and retail viability-wise was leagues beyond other collections he has produced in past outings.

This spring 2017 menswear collection was current, innovative while still holding on to Malan Breton’s penchant for ornate brocade-like fabrics and stylings. And unlike other Malan Breton’s other collections where his fabric choices and overly styled presentation overshadowed the garments, this collection had just the right amount of glam, panache and modern sensibility. Well, most of the time!!

And Malan Breton’s choice of a mixture of silk jersey, silk gazar, neoprene, and denim, though seemingly not compatible bedfellows, was worked exquisitely innovative way in this outing. Bretion also ingeniously mixed in elements of sportswear with bold, gilded floral prints and Savile Row tailoring rendering the collection a modern take of luxury sportswear that could be an indication of where men’s luxury sportswear is going.

Images courtesy of Ken Jones/fashionreverie.com

Images courtesy of Ken Jones/fashionreverie.com

And in true Malan Breton fashion there were a few garments with his initials emblazoned. Still, this overzealousness can be excused because the collection was so good!! Though the venue was as temperate as Dante’s hell, for those who could stand the heatwave, the collection was worth the perspiration!!

Standout looks in the collection were the deep forest print silk gazar Brady shirt with lemon chrome silk jersey Victory polo, deep forest print silk gazar River coat with neoprene and rubber bodysuit, Taiwanese reconstituted denim Brando jacket, and rose gold crest feather embroidered Marlene suit with cotton Francine shirt.

—William S. Gooch

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