Designers We Love From NYFW RTW Fall 2019 - Part 1
Prabal Gurung spent much of the time between his last runway show and this one out of office. He visited Kathmandu, Nepal, for a photo exhibition supported by his foundation; India for a lavish wedding at which he outfitted the bride and most of her party; and other places besides. The trips gave him his motif for Fall 2019: suitcases of the world. “All of us are more similar than we are different,” he said backstage.
His new collection picked up where his last left off. That one was a celebration of his roots, filtered through an athleticized New York lens. Here, Gurung left the sporty element by the wayside, preferring to set South Asian elements against crisp American sportswear a la Bill Blass, 7th Avenue star of the ’70s and ’80s. The juxtaposition came together most explicitly in a gray pinstriped blazer worn with hot pink brocade cargo pants woven in Varanasi, India—it was a more winning combination than it sounds.
Maybe it’s the Brooklyn of it all, but something about the latest Eckhaus Latta show put one in mind of gentrification. Passing through Williamsburg and pressing on into Bushwick, all the way to the neighborhood’s Ridgewood edge—where, per usual, the Eckhaus Latta show was held—you see some strange abutments, derelict zones overlooked by gleaming cantilevered towers; folksy murals in conversation with airbrushed billboard ads; gussied-up brownstones with street vendors selling homemade empanadas a stone’s throw from their stoops. The new Eckhaus Latta collection was a bit like that: The homespun, improvisational Eckhaus Latta look was still there, but a sleeker version of the brand seemed to be taking over. You might say that Eckhaus Latta is gentrifying itself.
Stepping into the darkened space where today’s Sies Marjan show took place felt rather like entering a mystic’s tent. Angled spotlights drifted in slow circles around the room and the black felt carpet was flecked with what resembled glitter, but was revealed to be three million tiny Swarovski crystals. Minutes before the first model appeared, a dozen attendants armed with torn plastic bags flooded the runway, pouring out handfuls of glimmering beads and scattering them freely through the air, as one might throw bread crumbs to hungry pigeons. (“This is luxury,” one editor observed wryly).
Lak was speaking effectively of his relationship to Sies Marjan, which is now in its seventh season. Once the honeymoon phase has passed, after all, the hard work must begin. “I really challenged myself,” he said. Much of that challenge was adding new tools to his kit. “I was totally over neon, but I wanted this season to grab it again and see if I could make myself fall in love with it again,” he said. “We used a lot of lace too, and I hate lace, I never liked lace. But I really liked the idea of how can I make myself fall in love with this thing that’s not something I organically go toward.”
Six months ago, Area was all about playfulness. This season, that flippant joy has given way to something more aggressive, more punk. Yes, tonight’s show was glitzy and fab-you-loussss, but beneath that purple-to-pink fur and those rainbow crystal earrings are layers and layers of meaning. What does it say? Post show, codesigner Beckett Fogg summed up her and her partner Piotrek Panszczyk’s mission as, “It’s about these dualities: How can they live not in contrast but in harmony?” They riffed on contrasts of color, silhouette, era, genre, ethnicity, femininity—you name it, they had a take it on it. The clash of it all made for a lively show, with guests wrestling over each other to photograph their favorite looks.
If Brandon Maxwell’s previous collection was all about returning home, this one was about returning to fundamentals. Gone, for the most part, were the splashy colors of Maxwell’s Spring ’19 runway, as the designer revived his beloved black-and-white. The silhouettes were retightened-up alongside the palette: The emphasis here was on lean, monochromatic wasp-waist looks, with lots of pencil shapes and beautifully tailored bootleg trousers. There were some sporty gestures—anoraks and tops shaped like racing tanks, for instance, and Maxwell loosened up his silhouette for evening, showing a swishy palazzo pant and long-sleeved blouse ensemble in peridot satin and a few bouffant gowns and formal skirts.