The King of New York. Marc Jacobs SS20

Traditionally, Marc Jacobs’ collection was the grand finale of New York Fashion Week. In a completely empty space, with different vintage chairs (painted white) standing in the middle as the guest seatings, a flock of paradise creatures emerged out of one side of the Park Avenue Armory, went across the audience, and disappeared. And then they came back, one by one, dancing and twirling according to Stephen Galloway’s choreography. A maxi velvet dress in orange, emberoidered with hippy florals; granny-ish knits with cats and kitschy landscapes; floor-sweeping gowns made for spectacular, late night dancing; patchworked denim flares; knitted mini-dresses that make you think of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate wardrobe; old school rockstar wife look as seen on Bella Hadid; another gorgeous ball dress and Savile Row-esque pantsuit… Describing each look in the collection is a non-sense, because they should all be seen. This was one of Jacobs’ most optimistic collections ever, full of dreams and emotions, love and happiness. For spring-summer 2020, the 60s, 70s and 80s were mixed and fused with Marc’s most beloved personalities and their bodies of work: think Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfelfd, Shelley Duvall, Anita Pallenberg and Marina Schiano. But simultaneously, it all feels… Marc. One more thing that should be praised in this line-up: it’s a mindful balance of wearable pieces that will actually sell in stores, and delightful fantasy. This is what the designer struggled with for the last few years. And he finally overcame it. Marc continues to be the ultimate king of NYFW. Dream a little dream of me

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Law of Batsheva. Batsheva SS20

Within just a couple of seasons, a Batsheva dress became a classic in New York. No wonder why: her signature prairie dresses, often made out of vintage textiles, are comfortable, flattering and the wearer never really has to think how to wear it: they work with everything. Batshave Hay‘s spring-summer 2020 show at the New York Law School (fun fact: before starting her label at home, Batsheva was a lawyer) was an actual lecture. Jamieson Webster (a psychoanalyst), Chiara Bottici (a philosopher) and Melissa Ragona (an art historian and theorist), three academics in three diverse fields, engaged critically with Batsheva’s newest collection, while models walked through a lecture hall. Writer and podcaster Aminatou Sow introduced and moderated the panel. “They make me feel like a pioneer woman who can’t be fucked with,” Sow said of Batsheva’s garments. The lecture was called “Neck, Wrist, and Ankle: Recurrence in Batsheva’s Clothing” and each speaker presented her essay accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation of pertinent details and helpful quotes. Hay’s panel of critics laid out lots of excellent points, including a description of her clothing as “defense of the tender areas of the body”. Fashion being intellectual is a rare, but great sight. Especially, when the clothes keep up with the theory. The prairie dress was present in the line-up for a few times, in tiny florals, polka-dots and print patchwork, but there were also some new additions: blazers with big, Victorian shoulders (speaking of the Victorian topic, the ‘Victorian Secret’ pun on the finale dress was brilliant, by the way), a ruffled day dress in a red zebra pattern and gorgeous shoes made in collaboration with Brother Vellies.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Old Classics. Proenza Schouler SS20

While a less sophisticated collection from Eckhaus Latta feels right once in a while, Proenza Schouler’s new season offering again misses something that used to make the label so in-demand. Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough are very good at tailoring, and even better at cutting a fluid-y, silk dress (the printed one worn by Adut Akech is the biggest highlight of the collection). But in the sea of great blazers and dresses we’ve seen last season and again this season in New York, this doesn’t make Proenza stand out. It seems to me that the Proenza Schouler identity is gradually getting blurrier and less distinctive. Not that the spring-summer 2020 collection is bad: it has lots of classics, like an over-sized coat or an XXL shoulder bag. However, those clothes don’t spark any feelings in me. Where’s the bolder, art-ier Proenza Schouler? Hope it will come back soon.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Simpler. Eckhaus Latta SS20

Eckhaus Latta, the brand that pioneered showing in Brooklyn, made non-models castings a norm and intrigued with its rawness and quirkiness, presented one of its simplest and probably most commerce-wise collections to date. Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta’s long-time friends, like Camille de Terre, Hari Nef and Paloma Elsesser, walked in loosely-fitted pantsuits, lightweight knits and sequinned tank-tops and dresses in electrifying blue and orange. Each look is made to be worn (with or without the stomper clogs). It seems that the designers are aware that this wasn’t their most spotlight-stealing line-up, but then, they don’t really care for mainstream attention. Eckhaus Latta customers, at different ages and sizes, will be happy wearing one of those hand-knitted, soft, body-clinging dresses next spring.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Four Brands, One Runway. Section 8, Creatures of The Wind, CDLM & Vaquera SS20

This is a long post, as we’ve got four brands on one catwalk. Yes, really! But seeing designer solidarity in New York makes sense: the schedule got tighter, the locations seem to be worlds apart, the costs for show venues are rising (unless you’re showing on a street, which becomes more and more popular this season) and catching everybody’s attention IRL and on social media is an art in its own rights today. Section 8, Creatures of The Wind, CDLM (which is actually by Creatures of The Wind designers) and Vaquera, all in one place, under one roof.

Lets start with Section 8, which I’ve discovered just now. The label first appeared as an anonymous collective back in 2017, staging its debut at a tiny gallery in Chinatown. Since then, stylist Akeem Smith has stepped out of the shadows as the label’s designer and has slowly been edging the brand into the spotlight. For his spring-summer 2020, models came down the runway with second-skin fishnet body stockings layered under body-hugging crop tops and butterfly-shaped bras that were cut from the body. Smith isn’t afraid to mine complicated sociopolitical subject matter for inspiration (the brand takes its name from the U.S. government’s low-income housing voucher system, by the way). As part of his research the designer visited the Jim Crow Museum, whose archive of racial propaganda is now being used as an educative tool to promote social justice. To wit, the bustled silhouette of the midi- and maxi-length skirts were a nod to the turn of the last century, when segregation laws were first enforced. Though the historical references were anything but literal, they resonated on a deeper level in the context of an all-black cast.

Creatures of The Wind and CDLM are two labels that show together, even in the same looks, without distinguishing who’s who. About a year ago, Chris Peters of Creatures of the Wind launched CDLM, with a plan to work in a more sustainable manner, focusing on upcycling and repurposing, picking washed and worn tie-dyed tees with sun-bleached vintage cotton nightdresses. Now Shane Gabier, Peters’s design- and life partner whom he cofounded Creatures of The Wind with, is also working with him on CDLM, and each label is operating with the same eco-minded concept. For spring-summer 2020, the designers offer striped rugby shirts stitched together to form long dresses, slouchy, XXL shoulder bags worked up out of deadstock croc-stamped leather and jackets made out of vintage denim patches. The way they style their looks is as inspiring as the sustainability aspect behind the garments. There are no specific references or inspirations behind the clothes. But they look really cool, and I’m fine with that.

Vaquera’s line-up was the most charismatic and bold of all the four brands, but by that I don’t mean it was the best. Patric DiCaprio, Claire Sullivan and Bryn Taubensee were inspired by life and its downs, and knowing their always-exaggerated way of doing things, they played with different archetypes and cliches that affiliate with daily life in the Big Apple. “It’s mostly about being let down in different ways: on Valentine’s Day, by the fashion industry—by New York,” DiCaprio said before the show. Taubensee continued: “We’ve learned it’s empowering to be frustrated and disheartened. In this new collection, you’ll see more of the old Vaquera, where we’re just like, ‘Fuck it, let’s just do it.’” Pin-stripe suits were cut and shaped into bustiers and big head-pieces (bye, corporate life!); over-sized slip-dresses and the bride’s dress in black were all about romance, messed up by dark humor; the big heart ‘dress’ looked like the previously mentioned take on Valentine’s Day and the moment you really l ove(or hate) that cheesy, heart-shaped box of chocolates. Vaquera likes being literal, loud and sometimes even ridiculous. That’s why I adore this brand: it doesn’t take fashion too serious. It actually mocks it.

Four collections on one runway might feel like too much. But seeing Section 8, Creatures of The Wind, CDLM and Vaquera together shows that the young and niche designers in New York have a viewpoint, a stance and do what they really want to (especially breaking the industry’s rules).

All collages by Edward Kanarecki.