Angelys Balek Resort 2018

“There is no greater romance in life than an adventure with art,”, says Angelys Balek. There are many pathways to tranquility, and fashion designer Angelys Balek finds balance in glamour and confidence. Balek’s hybridization of nature, art and fashion helps women embrace individualism as they join the #ABWorld. And as Miami Swimweek 2018 has come to an end, Fashion Reverie felt an inclusion of Balek’s 2018 resort collection would be a delectable appetizer for our viewers.

Summer is a time for love and romance. Balek’s signature prints are inspired by nature, incorporating striking textures and geometric prints that are perfect, playful pieces for summer 2018. Her resort 2018 collection has a unique artistic approach to athleisure. Taking on a new adventure, Balek bridges her love of gowns for the red carpet and ready-to-wear pieces for street style in a resort collection that incorporates all of these first loves. Designed with the naturalistic woman in mind, Balek embraces microcosm, regarded as a world in miniature.

Balek gives reference to the late 60s era with her design aesthetic and silhouettes in this resort 2018 collection. Though the bikini was first introduced in the 1946, Brigitte Bardot made the two-piece swimwear popular in the late 50s and early 60s. This two-piece innovation quickly became popular in 1960s youth culture, The Mod Movement. The bikini than became the number one trend by all popular Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editions. And for Balek, the bikini is a main focus of her 2018 resort collection.

                                           Images courtesy of Angelys Balek

Balek’s spring/summer 2018 resort collection consists of a technicolor palette that relates back to the flora and fauna of summer. In her runway, red carpet and street wear Balek is known for her signature nature-inspired prints, and sculptural details. By pairing her signature looks with complex shapes and nature-inspired prints, Balek’s first-ever activewear line proves that the simplicity found in life will forever be her first love.—Courtney Wilkins

Grungy Gentleman Men’s Spring 2019

Once again, closing out New York Fashion Week: Men’s (NYFWM) with a bang was Grungy Gentleman, helmed by designer Jace Lipstein. This season, the show was held at the trendy Dream Downtown Hotel. As guests entered, they were treated to Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey cocktails and the latest tunes spun by DJ Juanyto oh Hot 97. The room buzzed electric as celebs, editors, and tastemakers all intermingled prior to the show.

The show opened with famed rapper and Harlem native Jim Jones or Dipset. Sporting a gray and white polo with black sweatpants, he swaggered down the runway and definitely put everyone in a New York state of mind. Other celebs to walk the runway were former NFL running back and current paralympic trainee Isaiah Reed, basketball player Michael Beasley, and Tennessee Titans cornerback Tye Smith.

Grungy Gentleman is not your typical NYFW: Men’s brand. They don’t try to recreate themselves every season with cacophony of prints and patterns. They don’t have complex cuts and configurations. They don’t select waifish models to wear their clothes. They understand who their clientele is—urban, athletic, real men with real bodies. The brand boasts that they “fuse contemporary culture and style, capturing the core of men’s interests in sports, music, entertainment, art and technology. Each piece from the collection looks to suit and inspire the man who is bold, intelligent, and passionate with fierce taste.”

Don’t let the clean, simple visual aesthetic fool you. Says Lipstein, “we debuted a six stripe wave last season and we’re really taking that to the next level this season—we’re doing mixed media with it, mashing up unique fabrics, for several silhouettes including a polo and hoodie.” He goes on to say “my favorite fabric this season is our oatmeal fabric, which is a light French terry—it doesn’t stifle a man when approaching the rack. We want guys to feel like, hey this can elevate my style a little bit more than when I woke up this morning—without taking them completely out of their comfort zone.”

For this season, Jace chose a neutral color palette of grey, black, and white, accented by a range of blues. His six-stripe motif is placed at typical spots, such as the wrist, bicep, waistline, and ankle, but it really catches your eye as a cross-body wave pattern on shirts and hoodies. Not to be merely a sportswear brand, the collection also includes blazers, pants, and outerwear.

                                       Images courtesy of alioop.com

For spring 2019, the brand celebrates New York and the crossover of fashion and sports with the debut of the Grungy Gentleman X New Era collection in partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB). Runway models sported New York team hats (Yankees, Mets, Knicks and Nets). “We’ll be releasing hats for all NBA teams this fall. We’ll also be releasing hats for 10 MLB teams, the chase teams, which includes the Yankees, Red Sox, Astros, Angels, Dodgers, Cubs, Giants, Nationals, Phillies, Cardinals and then of course we added our Mets—we stay true to our New York roots. These will drop end of this summer at select Lids stores and Lids.com,” says Jace of the collaboration.(Lipstein sees his brand as “an exciting, fresh take on urban style, athletic tailoring and menswear.”) With the strong reaction of artists, athletes, friends and fans over the past seasons, I think his assessment is spot on.

—Carl Ayers

Romeo Hunte Men’s Spring 2019

Romeo Hunte continues to make a name for himself on the New York fashion landscape. For spring 2019, Romeo Hunte threw a lot of current trends and references to`80s street wear into the proverbial fashion melting pot. Some of the mix of trends worked, some, not so well.

Early on in the spring 2019 outing it was clear that Romeo Hunte was concentrating mostly on light spring outerwear paired with his penchant for high-end street wear undergarments. While this could have been in interesting combination—and for some of the looks in this collection the pairing did work, while other pairings were questionable—overall this effect produced a collection that slightly disjointed. Still, this spring 2019 collection was a powerful reflection of where Hunte is attempting to push his design aesthetic.

Hunte ingeniously re-imagined neoprene from diving suits and camo prints on bombers as fashionable, urban spring outerwear. Hunte even included a few women’s looks in the collection. And though the women’s looks were an interesting addition, having so few women’s look—about three looks—rendered this injection of feminine silhouettes a distraction rather than a welcomed inclusive expansion.

What can be said about this collection is Hunte’s ability to inject a youthful charm into a collection that could have been dark and somber, which is sometimes what happens in collections that are heavily influenced by street wear culture. Hunte should consider a much better venue next season where editors and industry professionals are afforded the comfort and respect they deserve. (Never underestimate fashion editors’ ability to strike back when they are not treated well.)

                                                  Images courtesy of wwd.com

That said; Romeo Hunte’s men’s spring 2019 was one of the better shows/presentations during NYFW: Men’s (NYFWM) spring 2019 season. And although that is a good thing for Hunte, it is also a sad commentary of how NYFM, which once had such hope for American menswear brands, has declined.Come on CFDA, do whatever you have to do to get more energy and investment in NYFWM. The industry needs it!!

—William S. Gooch

Reconstruct Men’s Spring 2019

Suiting up was once the classic standard for gentleman, but now it’s all about sporting up. The five women of Amsterdam-based Reconstruct Collective found the fusion between avant-grade and sportswear for their spring/summer 2019 collection, creating a sporty collection very much for the new age.

The opening look included two models walking hand-in-hand in a black Siamese twin shirt, black shorts, sneakers, and glitter sunglasses. The theme of the collection was retrograde orbit, and this look was something from another world almost, as it was based on a fictional planet the designers imagined called Planet Re-4. Technical details were all key here.

The designers reconstructed sporty pieces, like tank tops that were decorated with the Re-4 logo, and nylon pants were bedazzled with extra drawstrings. Nylon panels were fused on wide leg pants for a futuristic effect and cropped hoodies were deconstructed to be reconstructed giving a type of “Mad Max” and “Star Wars” effect. Waistbands also featured the Reconstruct logo, tapping into the trend of logo embellishment.

It was very difficult to know what to expect next, but the overall collection was cohesive. The sense of neo-futurism permeated throughout the collection with shiny grey fabric choices, reminiscent of space suits. Though the silhouettes were non-traditional, the designers used the unfamiliar silhouettes as truly an exercise in where they could go next. While the color palette included grey, silver, blue, there were additional color palettes that included pink, blue, and orange, with the orange garments being reminiscent of NASA astronaut suits.

On trend and in the spirit of futurism, many of the designs looked genderless. While the idea of genderless fashion is just in its infancy, reconstructed nylon jackets, wide leg trousers, and space age outerwear spoke to gender fluidity. On Planet Re-4 it is all just clothes.

                                    Images courtesy of Dan Ashby/Firstview

To the cheers of the crowd, Reconstruct’s New York Fashion Week: Men’s debut proved to be a success. This was far from a typical fashion show, but a refreshing turn in a new direction for something that hadn’t been seen before at NYFWM. Where will the collective take us next?—Kristopher Fraser

Head of State Men’s Spring 2019

Head of State designer Taofeek Abijako’s latest collection for his brand was inspired by Afro-futurism that is influenced by 70s funk band Parliament, the American funk music collective of rotating musicians headed by George Clinton, and Sun Ra, the American jazz composer. Abijako also added elements of West African youth culture thrown in for good measure.

Although Parliament was known for their outlandish approach to fashion, which ranged from everything including rhinestone embellished cat suits to embroidered cowboy pants, Abijako found a way to take that love for over-the-top fashion and tone it done for his spring 2019. An orange two-piece ensemble with black paneling had an oversized pocket on the pant to make a subtle statement. A green vertical stripe shirt, which was very reminiscent of Parliament’s 70s stage costumes, was paired with lilac shorts. While the design aesthetic was easily approachable, the colors were certainly 70s Parliament inspired.

The Sun Ra references came through with regal garments, such as the opening look of a white novelty long sleeve shirt and linen wide leg pants. The addition of a turban was an homage to Sun Ra, given that Sun Ra was known for his many headdresses.

                                      Images courtesy of Head of State

Abijako also found inspiration from one of his idols, Nigerian multi-instrumentalist Fela Kuti. Kuti was known for using fashion as a form of protest, and refused to conform to the idea of the traditional gentleman. He also wasn’t afraid of approaching color at a time when men’s fashion choices were much more traditional. The striped cotton notch lapel jacket and striped cotton straight pants both in white, blue, and light plum stripe would have been very fitting for Kuti’s tastes. Kuti still inspires West African youth of today with his eccentric approach to style and love of bright colors and patterns.There was another important message here in this collection. To project forward, sometimes you have to pull from the past. It was through the iconography, style, and images of many black icons that Abijako was able to create his fashion utopia of Afro-futurism. Between the homage to Black musicians and his use of mostly black models, Head of State was black excellence at its fashion finest.

—Kristopher Fraser

Wood House Army Men’s Spring 2019

Atten-hut! Wood House Army is on the scene, and they demand your attention!

A former U.S. Army officer, designer Julian Woodhouse is accustomed to being a leader and affecting change. As a young man coming into his own in South Korea, he carefully cultivated his own sense of style, but was often disappointed in the scarce menswear options. Finding more inspiration in womenswear, he teamed with a local independent pattern maker in Dongducheon, South Korea and started creating custom garments of his own. Over time, the duo continuously crafted new designs that evolved into Wood House Army’s first show for the Seoul Fashion Week fall 2015 season.

A year later, Julian and his husband/muse/creative partner Kirill Kabachenko showed their fall 2016 collection at Pier 59 Studios in NYC. This season, showing their eighth collection, the duo demonstrates strong design growth. But they also show a noticeably strong sense of self by not veering too far from their established brand aesthetic, but instead offer customers another layer of Asian-inspired design.

This season, Wood House Army skillfully evokes the visual concept of athleisure. The clothes themselves don’t necessarily scream workout gear, but through one lens, you see jackets and pants from BMX motosports. Through another lens, you get a feeling of Muay Thai boxing shorts. Through a third lens, you see garments for a post-surf stroll on the beach.

As mentioned earlier, the Asian motif is central to the brand. The vibrant colors of blues, reds, and burnt orange are grounded by crisp whites and prints in black and sand. The rising phoenix prints certainly evoke an Eastern feel, but that feeling is taken to the next level with Mandarin characters emblazoned across their silk shorts (this is their first time using silk and another nod to Asian culture). On a deeper level, relaxing mantras, such as “calm,” “balance”, and “light” are featured on other garments.

                                     Images courtesy of Wood House Army

Wood House Army began as a way to fill the sartorial gap between what was seen as exciting womenswear and meager menswear. Julian and Kirill are not meeting, but exceeding, expectations. With this being their first actual runway show, they have demonstrated that they can vacillate between seasons, fabrications, and aesthetics. They are on an upward trajectory with no signs of stopping.—Carl Ayers

Feng Chen Wang Men’s Spring 2019

Feng Chen Wang’s men’s spring 2019 is an editors and stylist’s dream. For the most part, the men’s spring 2019 collections were lackluster, with so many brands attempting to stay relevant by presenting collections that were extremely consumer friendly with very little panache and charm.

There were a few exceptions—Nick Graham, Romeo Hunte, Alessandro Tricone, Carlos Campos, and DYNE. Not surprisingly, Feng Chen Wang continues to push the proverbial fashion envelope for menswear. This season, Wang was inspired by the other half. The other half being one’s other half or the other half of a career or is the other half something else.

This other half reference was made evident in garments that exposed half of a shoulder or half of the body. This was particularly effective in shirts and outerwear.

Half was Feng Chen Wang’s word of the season, appearing in text on baseball caps, but in less literal ways too—throughout the collection, two items of clothing merge to become one. Shirts are draped on top of one another, while jackets, created as part of Wang’s ongoing collaboration with Levi’s, are layered too. Jeans have additional legs melded to them and the shoes—an iteration of Converse’s iconic Chuck Taylor All Star—see two pairs cut up and spliced together.

There was also the introduction of the micro-short shorts for men, an interesting expansion. Super short shorts for men hasn’t appeared in fashion since the `80s. And though this was a surprising addition in this collection, Wang pulled it off with characteristic fashionable aplomb.

These designs are accompanied by some new additions to Wang’s oeuvre, such as suits and shirts, in addition to new outerwear styles, such as trench coats and tee shirts with panel details. Bags and jewelry take the form of hands, some holding hands—a universal signifier of connection—while a sculpture constructed from multiple hands stands erect in the center of the show space. Spring 2019 also sees the introduction of the Feng Chen Wang women.

This season, Wang was particularly inspired by diagrams mapping the increase and decrease in temperature throughout the human body as we experience different emotions. While love warms us all over, depression cools us, and anger ignites our head, upper chest and arms. Wang explores this phenomenon through PVC body pieces that refer to different emotions and the area they heat, and in hyper-color—style coats that also serve to illustrate this effect.

                                  Images courtesy of Gerardo Somoza/Purple PR

Alongside neutral tones, black, white and grey, crystal-­inspired shades of hot pink and cool blue flow throughout the collection, symbolizing love and hate, happiness and sadness, day and night, summer and winter. It is the Feng Chen Wang yin and yang.—William S. Gooch

Ricardo Seco Men’s Spring 2019

The devil is in the details, or in this case the divinity is in the details. For his spring/summer 2019 collection, Ricardo Seco looked to his home country of Mexico for inspiration, as he traditionally has, but this time he dug a little deeper than obvious Mexican references. The 1968 Summer Olympics was the source of inspiration for Seco’s spring 2019 men’s collection evidenced by the shorts and bright-patterned leggings which conjured up images of color themes and design aesthetics of the `68 Summer Olympics.

This collection was Seco’s perspective on competitive sportswear as a modern fashion choice. With its maximalist approach and luxury athleisure aesthetic, Seco’s spring 2019 collection reflects fashion’s current penchant for luxury streetwear. Seco also drew inspiration from the Mexican creatives that had a big influence of the `68 Olympics that took place in Mexico City.

Architect Pedro Ramirez Vásquez who brought together Eduardo Terrazas of New York, Pratt Institute grad Lance Wyman, and Peter Murdoch drew inspiration from Mexico’s indigenous Huichol thread craft culture to create the images and designs of the 1968 Olympics, bridging the gap between traditional and modern Mexico. The indigenous Huichol culture would be the inspiration for Seco’s 2015 Dreams collection, from which this spring 2019 collection was also built.

Variations of the Huichol culture appeared on t-shirts and bombers in black and white. The repetitions of stripes and optical illusions were an essential part of this collection. While the collection was modern, Seco worked to ensure that every garment was imbued with his Mexican roots. Huichol’s textile culture is often known for its brightly colored patterns, which was reflective in Seco’s color palette of black, white, green, red, and pink.

50 years ago, Vásquez, Terrazas, and Wyman came together to create the “La Ruta de la Amistad,” which still exist today. The sculptures, like Seco’s spring 2018 collection, are representative of the Mexican diaspora.

                                   Images courtesy of Paula Rosado PR

Today’s modern fashion man has an awareness of the world. He isn’t insular, he isn’t afraid of color, and he can go from sport to street with ease. And Ricardo Seco’s spring 2019 collection aptly reflected that fluidity.—Kristopher Fraser

David Hart Men’s Spring 2019

In his spring 2019 collection, David Hart proves that everything old is new again. Looking to the menswear from the early 1970s, David Hart created a collection that was heavily influenced by that era of men’s fashion seen through a modern lens of what would appeal to American male consumers.

Hart’s love affair with early 70s was made evident in wider pant legs, large jacket lapels, and sport coats that used more luxurious, brocaded fabrications. Perhaps, Hart was influenced by some of the menswear trends he saw during men’s fashion weeks in London, Milan, and Paris where some menswear designer opted out of the street wear craze in favor of softer tailoring using more luxurious fabrics.

Hart, has always been known for his suiting with many of his collections being inspired by references to great men’s suiting styles of the 20th Century—the Miami nightlife scene of the late 50s, the Havana 60s nightclub scene, and the 50s Beatnik scene which was influenced by French new wave cinema. That said; this current alternative European menswear scene with a concentration on softer tailoring fits perfectly into Hart’s design point of view.

Thinking about what men were wearing during the Watergate crisis, Hart relied heavily on patterned suits with wide lapels, colorful knit polo shirts, and suede boots in this outing. And though this collection did somewhat appear as an homage to the early 70s suiting styles, Hart did modernize this collection by adding in colored patterns and bold color combinations that even the most fashionable man of the early 70s would not dare sport.

With masculine norms relaxing, Hart can find an audience for the bold patterns and color palettes used in this collection. However, modern male consumers don’t often like to look back at fashion, unless a retrospective style assemblage has something new to say. Unfortunately, Hart’s spring 2019 collection, though bold in its color choices, does not speak a new language to modern male consumers. And that is the one drawback to this collection.

                                  Images courtesy of David Hart/Agentry PR

Still, a lot of can said for Hart’s fine tailoring technique and his love affair with suiting, no matter the era. In that respect, this collection is a winner!!—William S. Gooch

Nick Graham Men’s Spring 2019

Nick Graham always puts on a good show. Whether it is a runway show that pays homage to tropical birds, hot Havana nights, Apollo 13 or a host of other reference points, Nick Graham every season finds a way to show his signature sporty suits in the best light, as well as entertain the audience.

And that is a good thing!! Particularly in a spring 2019 season that was short on great menswear collections.

Because of the defection of so many American menswear brands from the New York Fashion Week: Men’s (NYFWM) season—Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, John Varvatos, Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis, and others have jumped ship—NYFWM is trying to survive on emerging menswear designers and the occasional off-shore menswear brand that is trying to get traction in the US.

Nick Graham has stayed true to his American customer and his niche of sporty men’s suits. He has always stayed loyal to NYFWM. Still, Graham recognizes that his penchant for great sports suiting is not enough, particularly, for younger male consumers. And he did something about that this season.

Inspired by the year 1969, Graham sought to draw from iconic moments that happened in that year. “1969 was one of most transformational years in our history, a year that had not only the first landing on the Moon by Apollo 11 and hosted Woodstock, both pretty pivotal events in our culture.” Graham explained.

Graham gave references to astronauts, hippy flower children as expressed in his Woodstock reference, and laid-back, late 1960s Los Angeles style. And true to form, Nick Graham made all these 1969 references somehow work for his design aesthetic.

Interestingly, Graham also found an ingenious way of tying in 60s cultural references with fashion trends that are now popular. Logo embellishment is huge right now and Graham incorporated logos into this collection with his brand name emblazoned on hoodies and sweatshirts, still, not garish, but tastefully done.

To much industry fanfare, the street wear aesthetic has been embraced by most of the men’s European luxury houses for spring 2019. Again, Graham brilliantly tapped into this trend by marrying sports jackets with hoodies, classic sneakers, and jogging pants.

                                                   Images courtesy of wwd.com

By pairing his signature look with the continuing trends of logo embellishment and street wear; Graham is proving that he knows how to gallop with the big boys. And if he continues on this current trajectory, he may surpass them.—William S. Gooch

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