I was on fence with Chris Leba’s R13 for a while. Until this season. The designer’s spring-summer 2019 felt different from his previous offerings, as it wasn’t plain recycling of apparel trends and grungy styling. The collection told a story, maybe that’s why. And the story was all about Montauk and Chris’ teenage years there, growing up surfing and spending time around the seaside hotel that his mom owned. Montauk used to be wilder then. And that was perfectly captured in the new collection, that had it all: t-shirts that looked as if somebody wore them to the beach for years; loosely fitted blazers and shirts with the cheesy-chic palm-tree prints; tie-dyed sweatshirts in Rasta colours. You might not be into this aesthetic (like me) but we should all agree that this kind of nostalgic and youthful carefreeness of U.S. beach towns takes Leba on the good track. The spirit is authentic. He feels this.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Here we’re again – at the New York Fashion week, the starting point of fashion month marathon. And who’s on the first shot? Chris Leba‘s rebellious R13. Launched in 2009, R13 was firstly associated with denim and apparel essentials like plaid shirts and tank-tops. Right now, it’s on the same sporty-grunge-cool shelf as Rag & Bone or Alexander Wang, reviving the 90s and sparking New York’s all-night party mood. Leba’s autumn-winter 2017 collection was nearly, but NEARLY, like one of those perfectly curated Tumblrs filled with nostalgic photos of Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain (the latter’s face was placed on one of the extra-big sweatshirts) and Kate Moss doing cocaine. But – thanks God – it didn’t fall into a cliché, which heavily hit last season’s designers. Although there were floral-print slip dresses and shearling jackets, R13 felt different, the attitude of these clothes was real. Tailored coats, over-sized chunky knits, semi-Victoriana collar shirts – this is precisely how a New York model scout or editor would dress today. From brilliant model cast (Lera Abova, Jamie Bochert, Julia Banas to name a few) to styling, Leba’s entry to the new season is a success.