Cult of Individuality Spring 2022

When a fashion brand looks to music and youth culture as sources of inspiration, one of the difficult challenges is keeping that brand fresh, current, and accessible. Cult of Individuality consistently accomplishes that goal. And its current collection demonstrates how adept Creative Director Ron Poisson is at injecting a special kind of joie de vivre into his collections.

“Authenticity has always been a part of the brand DNA of CULT,” says Poisson. “We never want our collection to seem forced, or mass produced. We work vigilantly to make sure every CULT of Individuality garment looks like it was broken in overtime and got its character by being worn countless times.”

Cult of Individuality’s spring 2022 collection did not spry too far away from the brand’s signature aesthetic which is a comfortable exploration in the many ways you can combine denim looks and fuse those looks into a palatable assemblage that appeals to the modern consumer. The trick is to keep this signature look fresh and correct without looking as though the brand is pandering to consumers or making gimmicky clothes. That is where Ron Poisson’s intelligence comes into play.

Thought this collection is heavily infused with hip hop references and projects toward mostly an 18 to 28-year old demographic, there are looks that can appeal to a very wide demographic be they Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z or a hip baby boomer. And that inclusivity is front and forward because Poisson taps into a wealth of musical genres and cultures, from grunge to rock n’ roll to hip hop and skateboard slacker culture.

Staying on the trend, the brand’s logo was emblazoned on jackets, tee shirts, sweatshirts, and jeans; however, unlike some similar brands that place a huge emphasis on braggadocio logo placement, Cult of Individuality keeps its focus on design and fashion-forward sensibility. And like many brands Cult of Individuality has incorporated collaborations to expand their audience. For this collection, the brand collaborated with the glam-groove band Pantera.

“We don’t give a $&*# about what is going on in the traditional fashion marketplace. We start each season with a clean slate, a new beginning,” says Ron Poisson. “Our team then looks to music. We find inspiration in all sorts of music in all genres and from that we start designing. Our foundation is always denim. From there, we add in silhouettes, colors, washes, graphics and a bunch of details from traditional Japanese and American work wear and we always end up a collection we are obsessed with!”

Images courtesy of VERY New York

Well said, Ron. And we are obsessed with Cult of Individuality!!

—William S. Gooch

APOTTS Fall 2021

Aaron Potts embodies the word “inclusion.” With his eponymous brand APOTTS, he aims to create clothes that are unisex, versatile, modern, and trans-seasonal for all genders, sizes, and ages. Potts states that real style is about spirit, not about physical differences, or trends, yet he smartly picks up on his pre-fall 2020 trends and carries it over to his fall 2021 collection.

For fall 2021, APOTTS presents a tightly edited, cohesive collection meant to effortlessly weave into your existing wardrobe. Nothing stands out as gaudy or intimidating, but rather warm, inviting, and familiar, but new. The video of this collection, cast with Alvin Ailey dancers, is a wonderful dance of shape and silhouette, from voluminous dresses with billowing sleeves and oversized coats, to wide leg pants and shapeshifting tunics. For this collection, proportions are a key element. Most of the designs keep you well covered, without being swallowed in fabric. Here, volume is both comfort and freedom.

Every wardrobe starts with black, but there is nothing basic about it in this collection. The all-black looks will carry you throughout the season. The floor-length black crinoline skirt is fun and light enough for warm weather but can give volume under a long dress when the temps dip. The oversized tunic and pants let you layer up underneath, if need be, but make a form-filling, but not boxy silhouette on their own.

Potts proves that grey does not have to be somber, but can be fun. You can feel snug at home in the grey cocoon jumpsuit or hit the streets in a grey checked coat. There is a loose-fitting top and calf-length skirt in the same checkered pattern. If you gravitate toward oversized silhouettes, there’s a wonderful almost duster-length grey coat with an exaggerated collar.

The infusion of yellow in this collection can brighten any mood. In creating this collection, Potts described a need for optimism and creativity. He stated, “The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t cliché. It’s necessary.” The yellow plaid mohair coat is almost a hybrid between a Chesterfield and a peacoat. The bold pattern with subdued vibrancy makes this, alongside the similarly patterned pant, the stand out of the collection. If you want to be adventurous with this pattern, there is also a seemingly twelve-foot long matching scarf with detachable panels.

The most luminescent garments are the lemon-yellow items—the zip-ripped sweater, pants, and overcoat. The leather pant and coat with silver lining should make an appearance in a young pop stars music video.

Images courtesy of 360runway.com

The range of this collection demonstrates that Potts had a varied consumer base in mind. There are items that are more creative, and items that are more reserved. No matter what purchases you make, the collection will grow with you through the years furthering the brands aim to create quality, fresh, thoughtful, and effortless dressing options.

—Carl Ayers

Libertine Fall 2021

Johnson Hartig, Libertine’s creative director, is a man known for sequins, sparkle, and maximalism. Even a global pandemic and decreased customer spending couldn’t rain on his bedazzled, embellished, and appliquéd parade as the brand looks to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Rather than skew to more minimalist or athleisure creations, like many of his colleagues have this season, Hartig went over-the-top in full force.

Inspired by the baroque era, made evident by the backdrop used in this virtual presentation, Johnson Hartig implements a modern distillation on baroque by borrowing and updating embellishments and gold leaf often found in baroque art and architecture. This point of view is risky and could look like a tacky costume flashback, not so in this collection. Johnson Hartig ingeniously approached the baroque aesthetic with a modern point of view that made this collection both vintage and innovative at the same time.

Libertine’s opening look for their virtual runway show, shown via the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA) Runway360 online platform, featured a giant bow made up of layers of tulle and adorned with crystals. It was quite the way to tell someone “heads up, lots of ostentatious fashion coming through.” This was followed by a mixed-media pattern dress paired with a mixed-media patterned, oversized floppy hat and a multi-patterned black dress.

Libertine continues to be that brand that encourages us to wear pattern on pattern, because the strength of power clashing should never be underestimated. A classic green and red plaid shirt was the underlayer for a literally gold-leafed black blazer look for your less than classic tailored suiting. It was perhaps the most high fashion the wooded farm boy aesthetic is ever going to get. Leave it up to Hartig to not only go beyond the grain, but potentially reinvent it.

Images courtesy of runway360.com

While Hartig is known for tons of colors, patterns, and embellishments, something about this season was a bit different. This time, the approach felt more like a symbol of positivity, that, even in one of humanity’s darkest and difficult hours, fashion and creation give us something to look forward to. When all hope is lost, live out loud, even with your fashion choices, for tomorrow will hopefully bring bluer skiers and even bolder outfits. Hartig dared us to dream again, and as we attempt to emerge from a pandemic world, dreams will hopefully come true.

—Kristopher Fraser

Frere Spring 2021

Strong and sophisticated. Pointed and effortless. Formal and casual. The presentation of the Frère spring 2021 collection was full of duality. Not only did Haitian-American designer Davidson Petit-Frère show both womenswear and menswear in a number of glamorous still images, but he accompanied them with a ten-minute trailer of an upcoming movie which he also wrote.

The collection is simply luxurious. Known for creating incredible suits, Frère is teaching a master class with his latest collection. Applying the skills from his previous made-to-measure business, Frère has created a line of suits and outerwear that rivals the best Parisian ateliers. There are sculpted, monochromatic suits in natural hues of chocolate, mint, rose, cranberry, and pumpkin.

Eye-catching prints of marbled blue and gray, brush strokes of gray and sand, and paint splashes of white on black make you do a double-take. For a more relaxed aesthetic, there are logo-branded and tribal-print bombers. Whether your style is uptown or downtown, there is indeed something here for you.

As this New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is mostly without live runway shows, Petit-Frère took a more cinematic route to show his collection—he incorporated his fashion into his to-be-released film “Destined.” The trailer evokes an opulent playboy lifestyle reminiscent of the character Bruce Wayne. It begins with aerial shots of New York City followed by a quick cutaway where we see lead actor Michael K. Williams (“The Wire,” “Boardwalk Empire,” and “Lovecraft Country”) rise from the bed of a luxe hotel suite. He is then chauffeured via Rolls Royce to the five-star Baccarat Hotel, where he is joined by co-star Ron J. Rock (“Den of Thieves,” and “Games People Play”).

Amidst all of the scenes, we see the characters fully dressed, and their closets fully stocked, in Frère creations. The outfits are accented by Audemars Piguet timepieces, and the scenery is never void of by Armand de Brignac champagne. To further bring forth the Gotham City vibe, the soundtrack is underscored by Jay-Z, Snoh Aalegra, and The Weekend. If the Dark Knight had an even darker version, this may be it.

Images courtesy of Frère

Davidson Petit-Frère has mastered the art of leaving us wanting more. Whether we are looking to set an appointment for his bespoke suit service, or awaiting the release of his movie, he certainly has our attention.

—Carl Ayers

Imitation of Christ Spring 2021

Imitation of Christ (IOC) was founded in 2000 by Tara Subkoff and Matt Damhave. The pair quickly scored Chloë Sevigny as its first creative director. The label made a huge splash beginning as an art collective and evolving into a fashion line, IOC was called the original upcycler creating pieces entirely from recycled pieces of clothing. Soon Mary-Kate Olsen, Scarlett Johansson, and Maya Rudolph counted among fans.

But the early aughts were a tumultuous time for many fashion houses. IOC’s output was sporadic at best, before ceasing production in 2013. Now two decades after being founded, IOC is rising again with Subkoff handing design reins over to three young designers she mentored.

“These are supercharged creative young artists who had something to say and needed a platform during an incredibly challenging time on the planet,” Subkoff said in a statement. IOC has a new business model and an iron-fist commitment to sustainability.  Upcycling or “resurrecting” existing pieces is the central tenet of Imitation of Christ, and it means that every piece is unique. With the theme of athleticism, Subkoff describes the clothes as “glamorous activewear,”. Subkoff said she was inspired by seeing young women practicing tricks at a skatepark after watching them fall, get back up, and try again until they nailed the trick.  Creative directors Lola Valenti Roberts, Tessa Crockett, and Violet Baudin Lackey created the line mixing glamour with wearability and sustainability.

Only eight looks were shown on a video that featured models skateboarding in the outfits. The clothes were hand sewn from upcycled items. This does lead to some unevenness in terms of color stories and textures, but the general theme of glamour and comfort remain. Some of the combinations were solid.

A stunning brown velvet dress combined with satin sport jersey is a glamorous easy to wear juxtaposition. However, a strapless-tiered prom dress not only looked hopelessly dated, but seemed to undermine the message of the video as the model seen in still shots skateboarding with ease but struggled to move in the voluminous dress. 

Still the patchwork color blocking—so on-trend right now—mixed with Asian touches was done with a deft touch making the separates fun, wearable, and easily incorporated into existing wardrobes. Presenting a video is becoming more common in the age of COVID-19, but another huge difference with IOC is marketing. Typically, most NYFW samples are never mass produced for market and die a slow death in the bottom of storage trunks—aside from a lucky few that are plucked directly from the runway by eagle-eyed stylists.

Images courtesy of Imitation of Christ

But with IOC’s focus on sustainability, they are trying something new. All eight outfits presented in the video will be for sale on The Real Real, a favorite website of Subkoff’s for finding sustainable designer items, with proceeds from the sales going to Black Lives Matter, COVID Relief, and Fridays For Future, Greta Thunberg’s organization.

It will be interesting to see how the public will respond. While the clothes themselves and online bidding will certainly appeal to the youthful consumers that IOC is aiming for, the price point establishes IOC as a luxury brand well beyond the means of most millennials. That said; with a limited amount of stock, even if only a few thousand people are regular buyers with a global reach, that could be more than enough to keep the brand afloat. 

—Cameron Grey Rose

MAXHOSA Spring 2021

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, South African-based brand MAXHOSA presented their spring 2021 collection “INGUMANGALISO IMISEBENZI KA THIXO” or “God’s Work is Miraculous.” Designer Laduma Ngxokolo notes that the collection takes its name from a song composed by his grandfather Mike Ngxokolo, a renowned jazz artist, choral music composer, visual artist, actor, and radio presenter. Laduma further explains that the collection is the most colorful and exotic collection he has designed to date and represents a new dawn and excitement about the upcoming South Africa summer season. Laduma states “We have to be hopeful about reaching the light at the end of the tunnel because we have realized that happiness is a new luxury.”

The collection is resplendent with virtually every color of the rainbow. The clothes stay true to the company’s Xhosa roots by incorporating Xhosa beadwork patterns, symbolism, and colors into modern knitwear in zigzag and graphic prints. The spring 2021 collection exemplifies the duality of cultural reverence and contemporary relevance by offering a wide range of clothing from knitted full-length dresses and wrap skirts to shirts and cardigans. The collection also seems to pay homage to other regions of the African diaspora by coupling modern-print designs with traditional Shweshwe prints from South Africa, Aso-oke striped patterns from western Nigeria, and Bogolan mud cloth of Mali.

There is nothing conservative about this collection—everything is lively and full of character. The least daring pieces are dresses and skirts with multicolored horizontal stripes accented by strategically placed MAXHOSA nametapes at the waist, collar, and hemlines. For the more adventurous, there are dresses, short sets, and suits in amazing prints and, of course, more vibrant colors. If you want to make a statement, but don’t want to be too bold, there are a number of options in black and white print that are just as eye-catching as the rest of the line.

MAXHOSA creates not only stunning ready-to-wear pieces, but also makes accessories— hats, hosiery, neckpieces, and scarves, as well as home décor. MAXHOSA AFRICA aims to become Africa’s leading luxury, premium, and mass heritage lifestyle brand. Worn by stars such as Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Swizz Beats, and Raphael Sadiq, Laduma Ngxokolo is well on his way to cementing his brand as a global cultural rally point.

Images courtesy of Arthur Dlamini for MAXHOSA

The collection will be available for purchase at the end of November on MaxHosa.Africa. 

—Carl Ayers

LANDEROS NEW YORK Fall 2020

The gender fluidity revolution is expanding. From international fashion brands such as Palomo Spain, Rick Owens, and Hakan Akkaya to more homegrown brands like The Blonds, Kenneth Nicholson, Olivia Oblanc, and Official Rebrand, the gender fluidity movement is fashion is breaking new ground and give space to redefine gender.

Launched in 2013, NYC-based fashion brand LANDEROS New York, as the name implies, fuses a New York City street aesthetic with a design perspective that arises out of creative director Andre Landeros Michel’s love for music from a variety of musical genres—punk, goth, new wave, industrial—seen through the lens of gender neutral dressing. This design aesthetic is expressed through exaggerated silhouettes and nonconventional materials.

From LANDEROS New York’s fall 2020 collection, Andre Landeros Michel demonstrated his acuity with outerwear and nonconventional fabrics. And though this collection did not possess a lot of bold color, Michel made up for that lack with fabrications that glistened and sparkled. The color palette ranged from plums and oxblood to charcoal and silver.

Entitled “Night Transmissions” this collection is for that urban warrior is not afraid to be noticed as they traverse from glamorous speakeasys to other nightlife hotspots. Interestingly, the entire collection is made from sustainable materials.

What stood up most in this fall 2020 collection was the gender neutrality of the garments. That said, the gender fluidity of the collection in no way minimized the glamor and fabulousness of the collection. This collection is not for the mild-mannered consumer. Michel designs for that consumer who expresses their love of individuality through their clothes.

“I have friends in the LGBTQ community and Cis and Non-binary friends that segregation didn’t make sense for us to do a collection that served specifically for men or women. LANDEROS New York goes on record to say that we do one collection. If you want to call it genderless, if you want to call it non-binary, we welcome all those terms, but we do one collection and we open it to everyone,” said Michel.

Images courtesy of LANDEROS New York

And LANDEROS NEW YORK open-door policy works best for that consumer who is not afraid to put it out there; in whatever way they define themselves. After all, gender expression is an individual definition. Why not celebrate the range of that realization?

—William S. Gooch

SEVENCRASH Fall 2020

SEVENCRASH’s fall 2020 collection looked at the dystopian world from the perspective of three alternative possibilities. As unsettling as this point of view might seem for a fashion collection, it was a timely compendium of where we may be heading.

SEVENCRASH has established itself as a disruptive fashion brand that aptly combines technology and fashion as a sustainable endeavor. “As a disruptive brand, we believe in progress and staying ahead of the curve, in the current climate, sustainability needs to be and will be every brand’s number one priority. Every season we have been devoting more and more of our resources to researching and developing sustainable textiles and increasing the role they play in our design process. This is our mandate and an integral part of our corporate culture,” explains Brand CEO Jason Yao.

In this collection SEVENCRASH looks at the planet in 2065, forty years later, where technology has led to an overexploited earth, and artificial intelligence has brought on an existential crisis. In that state of dystopia, SEVENCRASH explores their design aesthetic through three series, prosperity to decay and, finally, to nirvana.

The Prosperity Series examines how artificial intelligence, technology and science has advance the human process, enabling people to live lives of more comfort and convenience. This series is made evident in exaggerated large-scale silhouettes and futuristic biotechnology green, demonstrating how mankind is thriving.

In the Decay Series mankind is surrounding by chaos and destruction. SEVENCRASH makes this evident in “destructive” spray washing/finishing process and carbon pollution color digital printing to express the atmosphere of earth’s imminent destruction. The ingenious use of orderly interlaced weaves of filled plume, with tangled tassels running through and under them, mapped out the future of technology and how its development will likely take human civilization to an incalculable plane.

The last series, the Nirvana series, demonstrates that mankind has achieved a balance between ecology and technology; a kind a phoenix rising out of destruction and chaos. Garment silhouettes were disproportionately combined to form explosive stacks and kits, forming a harmonious new silhouette born of conflict. The same amalgamation applies to the fabric and decoration.

Image courtesy of Jane Kim/SEVENCRASH

These three distinctive futuristic expressions are funneled their SEVENCRASH’s design acuity with outerwear, and bubble coats and parkas. This fall 2020 outing gives voice to mankind’s ability to survive almost anything, even in a dystopian world. And that survival will express itself in what we wear. It always does!!

William S. Gooch

ARTISTIX Fall 2020

Is ARTISTIX campaigning to be the brand of choice for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. If so, they have an early start and their fall 2020 collection should put them in the running.

With ARTISTIX’s “Adventure” collection, founder Greg Polisseni and creative director Andy Hilfiger looked to winter slopes and skiwear for inspiration. This 2020 fall collection was an “Adventure” into winter wonderland seen through the lens of luxury streetwear.

I’m so proud of the collection that we premiered for F/W 2020,” said Polisseni. “The pieces incorporate the print of my painting Stars & Stripes which makes this collection that much more important to me. Stars & Stripes was created as a symbol of unity which is portrayed through the styles. I want to especially thank Klarna and Style360 for partnering with us for this show, we couldn’t have asked for a more prepared team!”

Since 2016, with Andy Hilfiger manning the creative helm of ARTISTIX, the brand has been making inroads in combining American streetwear with a rock n’ roll sensibility. Interestingly, this combined design aesthetic is rarely, if at all, associated with skiwear. However, for this fall 2020 collection Andy Hilfiger found an ingenious way for ARTISTIX’s design aesthetic to work on wintry slopes.

This collection is also infused with inspiration from Greg Polisseni’s well-known  painting Stars and Stripes. The shades of red and blue of Stars and Stripes was incorporated into ARTISTIX’s signature camo pattern. All tying in the brand’s aesthetic of art, soul, and rock n’ roll.

Images courtesy of ARTISTIX

“We’re like a band and the audience are our fans. We’re all about the music, art, and fashion” said Andy Hilfiger after the presentation. “We brought the Artistix lifestyle to everyone that came to the presentation and now they can bring the vibe with them to the ski slopes.”

—William S. Gooch

Just in XX Fall 2020

Though the show notes from Just in XX detail that Taiwanese streetwear designer Justin Yu-Ying Chou was inspired by Taiwanese modern and contemporary artist, Tsong Pu, and his use of continuous square matrices, at closer examination, perhaps Justin Yu-Ying Chou was inspired the Lubavitch sect of the Hasid. Known for his unique pairing of East Asian design aesthetic and Western references, Yu-Ying Chou in this fall 2020 collection melded the two seeming disparate cultures seamlessly.

While some industry professionals may not have noticed the similarity between Yu-Ying Chou’s garments and faith-based attire of the ultra-conservative Lubavitch Hasid, most observant New Yorkers and industry professionals of a certain age recognize this reference. And particularly if you are familiar with Jean-Paul Gaultier’s fall 1993 “Chic Rabbis” collection, you will observe that Yu-Ying Chou’s fall 2020 collection reflects a similar reference point. The distinguishing difference being Yu-Ying Chou’s collection is heavily based in urban streetwear.

Which is the genius of this collection. Yu-Ying Chou has demonstrated for several seasons that his quite adept at melding references and inspirations from disparate sources. However, this season Yu-Ying Chou struck gold with this blending of different cultures. And interestingly many of the looks in the collection had an undeniable 80s vibe, particularly when combined with Lubavitch Hasid-like hats. This look was all the range in the late 80s in NYC. (Think Amy Irving in “Delancey Street.”) To that point looks of chic urbanites in late 80s New York City flaunted the oversized outerwear that was so predominant in this collection.

That said; what stood out most in this collection was Yu-Ying Chou’s outerwear. Many of Yu-Ying Chou’s layered outwear combinations that came in a range of bold colors and with embellished with geometrical shapes, reflecting Tsong Pu’s art aesthetic of line and shape, added an exciting combination of modern art and streetwear swag. In some instances, this collection was wearable art while still being accessible and viable to modern consumers.

Images courtesy of Agentry PR

Yu-Ying Chou in this collection also brilliantly mastered the art of cultural appropriation without stigmatizing or off-putting any of the cultural references he drew inspiration from. In an era where some designers don’t understand how to appropriately give homage to sources of inspiration, Yu-Ying Chou seamlessly combined different cultural sources in respectful celebration.

William S. Gooch

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