Industrial space in the heart of Brooklyn’s Bushwick. The sound of children’s instrumental performance, played on home-made tambourines and other metalware. One thing’s clear – an Eckhaus Latta show is about to start, which also means a radical leap away from typical, glossy Manhattan presentations. For Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta, the runway is like a multi-faceted concept, that doesn’t only focus on clothes. It has to hit the senses, from sounds to visuals, and make you observe, not just stare at another dress. Even the model casting – one of the most diverse throughout the entire fashion month – has a lot to speak about the topics of age, size and skin colour. But don’t get it wrong. The fact that Eckhaus Latta works against the fashion establishment doesn’t mean that the clothes themselves are on the second plan. Somehow, the designers are able to always pull off this artistic edginess, but in a deeply sexual way – I don’t mean the sheer pieces only. Maybe it’s the rawness of those ‘unfinished’ tweed skirts or the oversized creased trousers. Not speaking of the distorted sweaters and the marvellous spider-web dresses made from wool (extraordinary knitwear is becoming Eckhaus Latta’s signature, from season to season). Other than the ‘everyday’ pieces, the designers also offered a few garments that could be easily put next to contemporary artworks in a gallery. The meticulously beaded tops for both women and men had cuts that sharply exposed the body. But Eckhaus Latta’s clothes are not complete without its wearer, that’s why it’s wrong to call them solely ‘art’. It’s the person’s character that make the clothes ‘breathe’ in a way.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
I love Eckhaus Latta. While other designers leave New York for Paris, it’s comforting to see that Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta choose the Big Apple for their fashion shows. Or rather, Brooklyn. For seasons, Eckhaus Latta is a champion in model casting diversity (from plus-size girls to elderly ladies), but lately, it also impresses with the fabric choice. From knit skirts spun from Italian yarn to slinky rayon Jersey evening wear, there’s a cool sense of raw meets fine in every single piece. The lilac mini-dress is clingy, but not vulgar; masculine blazers make a statement, even though they aren’t overly sharp in silhouette. Mike and Zoe respect the body, in their own, arty way. But how do they get the idea what a woman (or man) wants? In their L.A. store, “there’s only a curtain that separates our studio from our store,” explained Latta. “We can hear when our customers are trying on jeans, when men are trying on women’s clothes, and vice versa.” There is no better feedback, than the one coming from a client. Take notes, other designers.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
The thing about New York Fashion Week is that most of young designers, who show this time around are a) not standing for anything substantial or b) do The Row / Céline knock-offs. Eckhaus Latta, however, is far, far different. Maybe because Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta are originally from Los Angeles? Maybe. But coming back to NYFW, their fashion show had messages. Be confident. Be yourself. And respect your body. Transparency and volume play made the silhouettes of sheer dresses look radical, while various knits clung the body comfortably. One of the models was pregnant, and the designers embraced that in a beautiful manner by dressing her in a button-down dress that exposed her belly. The models varied in age as well as in gender and race. Full diversity isn’t a trend, but the ultimate truth for Eckhaus Latta.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta of Eckhaus Latta, like other New York-based designers (whether that’s The Row or Vaquera), aren’t satisfied with the current state of United States. To that extend, that (according to Cathy Horyn of New York Mag) Latta and Eckhaus stopped working on their autumn-winter 2017 collection in November, discouraged by the election. But then, something sparked. “We just designed what we wanted,” Latta told Horyn. And that’s noticeable in the clothes – the designers, by confronting the reality, wanted to design freely. Will it sell? It doesn’t matter that much. But I doubt these semi-hippie floral dresses with velvet sleeves and boiled knits in earthy colours won’t find a place in a wardrobe of, let’s say,an art curator. There’s no main theme behind the collection, but rather an off-beat take on such essentials like blazers (voluminous and boldly coloured here) or a skirt (lenght adjustable). Specific, conceptual character of Eckhaus Latta clothing can’t be precisely conveyed by usual models. That’s why Zoe and Eckhaus do their best to invite people with passion for what they do to walk their shows. This season you could spot super-stylist Camille Bidault-Waddington, multi-disciplinary artist Julian Klincewicz and actress and writer India Salvor Menuez along other creative individuals and designers’ friends.
“Just clothing, in a sense,” Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta said backstage after showing Eckhaus Latta’s spring-summer 2017. With an art school background, Eckhaus Latta fashion, or rather style, is well recognisable – it’s all raw, and kept in a über-cool, DIY kind of way. The clothes, designed by the Los Angeles-based duo, are nothing without the attitude of the person wearing them – a non-model, or a friend, or just a person walking down the street. Denim skirts, deconstructed t-shirts, extremely exaggerated stitchings on pants: Eckhaus Latta isn’t into fooling around with themes and, eww, trends. Although the label used to be much more radical when it made the first steps in the industry, the newest collection is a statement – lets be real.