And just like that… FASHION is back at New York Fashion Week! For all the places Area has taken us, around the world and to outer space, a nightclub has strangely never been a stop along the way. It was maybe too obvious to Piotr Panszczyk – Area is a brand rooted in crystal trim and sexy cutouts. You get it; he doesn’t really need to spell it out. But wow, what a treat when he does. For its spring 2022 collection, Area finally delved into its showgirl roots, touching on the Deco glamour of Zizi Jeanmaire, the exuberant costumes of Brazil’s Carnaval, and the slouchy glitz of an off-duty Vegas dancer. “We are all showgirls,” Panszczyk said within Area’s new showroom that is completely silver, ceiling to floor, save for an entirely gilded bathroom. “And showgirls aren’t just about being pretty. It’s political; it’s about their bodies – and they are tough.” The Follies Area are oozing sparkle – crystal pants, obsessive beading in every color of the rainbow, A-R-E-A spelled out in crystal on their thongs – but the spirit is different. No more thoughtless spangle, no flippant sexiness. In a video, Connie Fleming, Janet Jumbo, Sophie Koella, Precious Lee, Lulu Tenney, and Mariana Pardinho move like Mugler-inspired Barbarellas – rigid, assertive, almost threatening in their beauty. The clothes are as diverse as the women who wear them: sweatsuits are trimmed with feathers; baggy jeans have cutouts on the thighs; and blazers are modeled on corset shapes, fastening with hook-and-eye closures. There’s no question: these are over-the-top pieces for a woman who knows what she wants.
When it comes to the couture elements of Area’s latest, props to Panszczyk for asking a question so demented it has surely never been asked before: what if Jean Arp were sexy and sparkly? Working with embroidery artisans in India, the designer built bulbous bodies out of padding and strict seaming, and had the artisans embroider them completely with beads, crystals, and sequins. Metal headpieces, tops, and jewelry were handmade by a German artist in Rome to evoke the tremble of feathers. The level of handwork is resplendent, and amid a NYFW of problem-solving clothes, it feels even more a delight to be in the presence of such unadulterated creativity. It’s also funny. Fashion can be too self-serious; Panszczyk has hit his stride with this collection and isn’t afraid to giggle about it.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.