The 90s Chic. Commission AW20

Commission is a New York-based label co-founded by Huy Luong, Dylan Cao and Jin Kay. Since their debut, the designers are set out to redefine their Asian heritage using Western style codes. Their fourth season continues to be a modern reinterpretation of what their mothers wore to work at the end of 20th century, this time however the style is more refined and after-dark chic. Business-ready tailoring, leather pencil skirts, turtleneck dresses and soft retro prints – the Commission look is taken out straight from 1990’s Vogue Italia. As Cao told Paper, “we’re first-generation immigrants to the US. So around the time that we started there was this conversation we wanted to have, about Asian, especially East Asian, culture and representation in the visual world, and especially in the fashion industry. And for a long time we found it really limiting, and really literal.” When looking at family photos, all three designers realized that their mothers styled themselves in a similar manner to go to work, dressing with the same “visual code,” as Cao put it. “The ’80s and ’90s, that’s sort of a period when not a lot of people talk about Asia, because there’s less to romanticize” he continued. “By then there were a lot of Western influences in the way people dressed in Asia. Growing up we’d see our parents go to work and tweak the Western-style codes in their own way. And just looking at our moms and the way they dressed – the big suits, the shoulder pads, the pants – but adding their own personal flares to the way they styled the clothes, that’s what kind of connected us.” If you still haven’t done that, make sure to follow Commission’s steps, as the brand is getting better and better with every season!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Good Times Will Come. Rosie Assoulin AW20

The spread of coronavirus affected everyone in the fashion industry this season, from Milan to Paris. In the first days of March, Rosie Assoulin planned to present her autumn-winter 2020 collection in Paris. I was so happy: we would finally meet in person after years of our Instagram chats. In the end, the event didn’t take place and the designer stayed in New York for safety reasons (which was a right thing to do). When the look-book went live on-line, I was even sadder we all didn’t get a chance to see the clothes in real life, because this collection is GORGEOUS. It’s probably my favourite line-up coming from Rosie. The collection consists of three stories, “almost like capsule collections,” the designer told Vogue, with each speaking to a different theme. The first story emphasized knitwear and outerwear. Her new season hit, “Thousand-In-One-Ways” wool sweater, is a highlight – you can wear it multiple ways, sometimes revealingly, sometimes concealingly. Jumbo plaids, blanket shapes, and heavy wools were cut into fitted coats that blurred the line between jacket and dress. The next story was florals – literally. The designer used silk-petal daisies with velvet buttons to turn the skirt of a lemon dress into a 3D garden. Same happened to a going-out bra and one of the white shirts. The last part was Assoulin’s all-time signature: eveningwear. Couture-ish volumes in exuberant colours and rich satins were contrasted with simpler, yet equally convincing pieces like the white column dress with matching flowers on the straps or a parachute mini-dress in lemon-zest-yellow. Good times will come. Celebrate them in one of those beauties.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Beauty, Promise, Sparkle and Grit. Marc Jacobs AW20

It’s rare I’m rewatching fashion show videos. But in case of Marc Jacobs’ autumn-winter 2020, I think I’ve seen it like five times already. It’s so brilliant. It’s nothing new that Jacobs closes New York fashion week with a vivid finale. But this season, it was even better. The runway featured a dance performance choreographed by Karole Armitage, New York’s „punk ballerina”, with the catwalk staged like a bistro. At some point it was hard to tell who’s the model and who’s the dancer (everybody was dressed in Jacobs), and that was the intention: beauty in chaos, told through powerful movement. Infinitely inspired by his heroes of the past and present, it is style in which different people dress at the various stages, ages and times in their lives that provokes Marc’s love for fashion and possibilities of what it can be. The designer especially had the fading image of disappearing New York in his mind – forever mythical and chic with its „beauty, promise, sparkle and grit”. As a departure from last season’s lamboyance, free spirit and color, this collection emphasizes restraint, quality of fabrics, make and proportion – valuing simplicity and timelessness above all. Jackie Kennedy’s evening dresses, pearls, refined daywear and headscarf looks were a big inspiration, just as the slinky minimalism of New York’s 90s aesthetic (which, of course, was shaped by people like Marc). Each look has its elegant charm, whether we’re speaking of white-collared dresses with above-the-knee lenght, pieces made from draped roses, classic peacoats or the marvelous gowns, inspired with couture masters. What truly stuns in this line-up is the way Jacobs brougt so much relevance and modernity out of nostalgia – literally everything is fit for 2020 here. I think it’s clear who’s (again) the winner or NYFW. And, what’s worth noting, not because other shows were dull and Jacobs was entertaining. We’ve seen some great collections this week – I’m thinking of The Row, Rodarte, Area and few others –  but Marc’s felt definitely the most alive and emotional (and, simultaneously, completely wearable!).

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Prairie Dress on Ice. Batsheva AW20

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There’s no street style in New York without the Batsheva dress. Batsheva Hay‘s prairie look has trickled down to other, local brands’ repertoire, which just reassures her success. The designer expands, trying out new things. The autumn-winter 2020 collection  had no runway, but a look-book featuring… figure skaters. Batsheva and her husband, Alexei, had conspired to shoot this collection guerrilla style in the American Dream mall, and stumbled upon a figure skating competition on the day they went to scout locations. “Part of what I’m always trying to prove is the wearability of my clothes,” she said, “and athletic movement is the definitive wearability test.” The skaters spin, twirl and jump in Hay’s chiffons, cottons, and custom flower pot embroideries, frozen mid-gesture by the camera. It’s intentionally not glamorous (and definitely not Tonya Harding) and the styling is kooky in its spontaneous way. For the season, the designer brings in evening-worthy sparkles, vintage flocked wool trenches and a red bustier “going out” top. It’s proper hot. For prairie girls not ready to give up their pastoral vibes, Hay offers ruffle V-front dresses and smocks, as well as velvet leopard with a wider, less Victorian neckline – this one is my personal favourite. Sounds (and looks) like lots of fun.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Soft Experimental. Eckhaus Latta AW20

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Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta were working through a bunch of ideas this season – colored acid-washed and “experimental” distressed denim, as they put it after their Eckhaus Latta show; boxy tailoring paired with either super-abbreviated skirts or languid, flared trousers; liquid fabric effects. As is typical for this New York-based label, the clothes were gently (rather than aggressively) challenging, with most of the novelty to be found in the occasional so-odd-its-good proportion, the unexpected finish on a garment, or the painterly quality of the garments’ surfaces (take the sweater knit with what looked like brushstrokes of bold color or jeans with a watercolor-y acid wash). Everything, even the purposefully frayed pieces, was executed with a lot of polish – and that, Latta and Eckhaus said, was the real story here. As Latta noted, they were posing “existential questions” to themselves, like, “What are we doing here?” and “Why are we making any of this?” that they answered by focusing on craft. The goal, they said, was for every piece in this collection to have a long life cycle, whether that means one wearer using a garment over many years, or several wearers enjoying the same piece. “Whatever we made,” Latta elaborated, “we wanted it to last.” Another sustainability step they took was partnering with resale site The RealReal to source footwear for the runway. Give an existing shoe a life, instead of making dozens of prototypes and samples is a great idea. But also, Mike and Zoe have always been more interested in producing clothes for varying types of people to integrate into their lives and wardrobes as they please than they have been in creating a brand uniform. Seeing all different shoes on the models highlighted the designers’ commitment to designing collections that can be interpreted in a variety of ways.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.