I’m one of the few UK peeps that gets into New York freakishly early. But as Matthew Schneier (big up his appointment at New York Times) pointed out, NYFW is no longer confined by set dates. Off-schedule, off-the-beaten-path and off-Manhattan (thanks Alexander Wang – it was a trip and a half), NYFW is playing in a myriad of ways and for the peeps coming in from other shores, it’s almost impossible to do the whole shebang. Still, notching up VFiles as my first show made for a refreshing change-up from the usual cliche that New York is only good at serving up the sleek, sporty and commercial. Times are a-changing and judging by the crowd of club kids, hipsters and anything-goes fashion fiends at the show, it’s heartening to know that NYFW’s prim n’ proper sheen is being smudged somewhere, somehow. It’s the second time VFiles have crowd-sourced and selected three up and coming graduates/students to show in this way, where hashtags run amok, video crews are all up in yer’ face and constant whooping and heavy bass lines are par for course.
My piece about students coming under the spotlight earlier and earlier in their careers was encapsulated at the show as Hyein Seo, definitely the standout of the trio, showed her BA (or 3rd year at Royal Academy Antwerp) collection “Fear Eats the Soul” Seo enters her final year at Antwerp and will be properly making her way in the fashion world after June but for now, she’s had a cushioned debut via VFiles and her name will be synonymous with “OMG, that FEAR fur stole was FIE-RCE!”. The school uniform vibes mixed up with a Scooby-Doo kitschy take on the word “fear” combined to desirable effect. Just hand over the pleated pinafores and big fuzzy fraggle coats please. It’s a collection ripe for production. No pressure or anything! Seo seems well up for the challenge though and her Antwerp final collection is definitely one to look out for.
I don’t hear or know too much about Parson’s MA graduates. If I was a native New Yorker, I might be all over their MA shows like a bee to honey, but as it stands, the aesthetics of what arguably America’s most famous fashion school produces, is an unknown quantity to me. Therefore it was great to see a graduate like Melitta Baumeister, who recently graduated from Parson’s MA programme, come to the forefront with her conceptual collection, taking on notions of what’s real and what’s fake. The results are mostly sur-real – oversized bonded neoprene bikers that engulf the body, knitwear rendered in silicone and banal bananas as a sculptural relief. These were clothes that made their presence known without ramming it down your throat.
For the Hood by Air, Been Trill-trussed up folk in the audience, ASSK Paris‘ collection probably lined up with their aesthetics the most. Paris-based (but Australian born) duo Australian designers Agatha Kowalewski and Sarah Schofield mined the usual streetwear tropes – bombers, sweats, caps, shorts – marrying them up with a dystopian print littered with pill bottles and sim cards. There was a feeling that it felt a little bit like “street wear by numbers” but hey, dis shit sells and that’s the other emphasis of VFiles’ media and show support of the trio – their wares will be available on site for the public to buy. It’s definitely a show format that has legs to develop, grow and evolve into something that will be a far cry from the more or less straightforward shows that we’re in the midst of now until Paris in March. Times-a-changing, I tells ya.