Beatific. Willy Chavarria AW23

In Willy Chavarria‘s fashion show, models of all genders descended the grand staircase at the Cooper Hewitt museum looking absolutely beatific. The first look was an airy silk blouse with a pussy bow, tucked into Chavarria’s characteristically wide silk satin trousers. But it was the second look, a black trench coat with a nipped waist and a dramatically curved lapel collar that half-covered an oversized white gardenia pin and perfectly framed the model’s face that set the tone for the devastating beauty that followed. “Something I’ve been thinking about over the last few shows is really making sure that I’m learning and growing and not just delivering a new season,” Chavarria explained. “Not just thinking ‘okay, I got a new season, a new color palette,’ It’s more like, what is the climate of the world at this given moment?” Unsurprisingly the answer to that question led him to think about protection. “It’s a story of love and protection,” the designer said. A few pieces recalled mourning attire of the late 19th century, especially the slim jacket-dresses with gathered empire waists, and the dress worn by Doria Wood for their performance. The all-black collection was punctuated by shots of white. White shirts were cut from a stiffer textured oxford cloth rather than lighter poplin. They had dramatic oversized bows that held their folds and ties. Italian velvet was cut into a double breasted jacket with a contrasting satin lapel – its shoulders extending past the natural shoulder line but in a gentler curved shape rather than the angular shapes of seasons past. Another velvet jacket was lined in white satin which extended into the contrasting lapels. Although the show had a decided eveningwear focus, there were traditional ready-to-wear pieces in the mix and they retained the romantic mood of the collection. An oversized polo shirt in black satin was tucked into jet-black Dickies (an ongoing collaboration). A black denim jacket had a delicate gather in the back, and a heavyweight work jacket and matching pants were paired with one of the oxford cloth shirts with exaggerated bows at the neck. There was a sort of elegance in Chavarria’s refusal to fully embrace the rules of formal dressing. The offering might have looked similar to this recent Saint Laurent collection, but it’s coming from a totally different place.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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