Finally, somebody brought life back to the sleepy first days of New York fashion week. You can always count on Area’s Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk to deliver something unexpected, fun and bold. And intelligent. The duo’s The autumn-winter 2020 line-up was one of their most intensive yet, exploring fabrics, history, new technologies, collaboration, and cultural impact through garments that truly do not look like anything else on the market. Fogg and Panszczyk began their research this season with their venue, The Africa Center. The nonprofit cultural hub and museum was moved to the Upper East Side’s Museum Mile almost 10 years ago, but development stalled when funding fell out. The brand has inked a partnership with the center in the hopes of spotlighting African culture and craft in the USA. Weaving techniques native to Africa helped inform the show’s opening looks, too, but an Area collection is never just about one thing. There was plenty of other references: Japanese tropical postcards, the pleating and draping of Madame Grès, leather costumes by Eiko Ishioka for Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, interior design by the New York–based duo Myreality (the chair bags!) and Romeo Gigli’s heart motifs. Most important is the idea of boundary-free globalism. As designers, the pair pull inspiration from wherever they please, but what makes their clothing so interesting is the way they melt these ideas together in a spectacular alchemy. It’s reflective of the way they see the world, and how they see New York in particular: a borderless community of free spirits. Clothes-wise, those are garments for the daring ones who love being extra 24/7, that’s for sure. But then, some of the pieces put separate – like knitwear, tailoring and coats, all pimped up with rhinestones – are great for everyday style. I wish some big musician finally discovered Area and wore their extraordinary garments on tours and the red carpet.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.