Two veterans designers – Anna Sui and Paul Helbers – and two emerging marques – Palomo Spain and Colin Locascio – competed for attention this weekend where the key message was fantasy is back in favor in fashion.
Palomo Spain: Gender bending near Labor Day parade
One had to navigate a giant Labor Day parade, scores of marching bands, noisy sound trucks and tens of thousands of chanting marchers on Fifth Avenue to make it to Palomo Spain’s show in the Plaza Hotel.
The contrast could hardly have been greater. Inside the hotel’s stucco ballroom, the theme was ‘Cruising in the Rose Garden’, a fashionable discussion on the never-ending battle between romanticism and carnal desire.
Presented by the doyen of transgressive fashion – Alejandro Gómez Palomo, who opened his show with a young gent in an all-white look – billowing pants, silk camisole tops and cock feathers midriff.
Guys wore bustiers, corsets, demure lace tanks and sheer silk tops with opaque panels to cover breasts they didn’t have. Alejandro loves silk or lace bloomers wearing them over pants and jeans, while his defrocked priest look with lace soutane and bra was something else. He jazzed up many outfits with sensational metallic flower jewelry – rosebud earrings, tulip rings and rosebud shaped bags with dangling fabric stems.
If this makes the show sounds like a self-indulgent romp that would be wrong. Palomo is a very talented designer whose ability to meld historical garments, Andalusian culture and transgender fantasy means his shows are must-see events in New York.
It’s about “how prohibited activity allows for the exploration of desires and the experience of freedom, unburdened by societal norms,” explained the designer.
In a word, if Florida is where woke goes to die according to Ron de Santis, then a Palomo Spain runway show is where the angry governor will go to choke.
Anna Sui: An aquatic moment
Does any designer enjoy a show as much as Anna Sui? Who danced with excitement in the tiny backstage of her witty style revival show on Saturday evening.
Staged inside the screen room of the Crosby Street Hotel, where the backdrop was an old black-and-white film frolic of maidens dancing. These were from clips of pre-World War One movies The Kingdom of the Fairies and Under the Sea directed by the great French filmmaker, Georges Méliès.
“My vision of underwater has always been this fantasy world of exotic fish, coral, and mermaids,” explained Sui, whose invite was an image of a turquoise octopus with Sui’s logo in its head, Verner Panton meets Peter Blake.
Similarly in the clothes – silent Old Hollywood meets the sixties, albeit with a Jane Austen twist. Proper lady like frocks with puff shoulders but in electric cyan, boudoir negligees in tie-dye silk. Salmon leapt over knubby wool cardigans. Riviera crochet bathing suits or metallic palm leaf jacquard frocks looked very fresh. Worn on a cast attired in hippie chic tiaras, or colorful head scarves or daffy knit caps.
All told an expression in fashion for an Age of Innocence, as the sixties appears today, and not as it was once thought a year of student revolt and youth revolution.
As the soundtrack played The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Sui joined the models on stage, beaming and eternally youthful.
“One of the most gorgeous sights I’ve ever seen is the underwater coral reefs and sea-life when I visited Australia’s Gold Coast. The reality of this and all the coral reefs around the world disappearing has shocked me into realizing the fragility of everything,” expounded Anna.
Fforme: Not quite in the best form
Fforme is a brand-new brand led by Paul Helbers, a designed with an excellent CV, which includes stints as designer director at The Row, passage through Maison Margiela, and a half-decade creating menswear in Paris for Louis Vuitton.
Which is where we last saw Paul take a bow, though in an entirely mood. Instead of Vuitton’s travel orientate clobber, Helbers creates pure minimalist statements for Fforme.
Staged inside the DiMenna performance center near Hudson Yards, the best thing about this show was Lesley Monk, the percussionist who put on a driven display on an elevated drum set.
Around whom circulated an obscure cast in Jack and Jil Sander understated restraint. Not a print in sight and precious little draping. Instead, an elongated silhouette of ankle-length skirts and prim tops made in a mix of clingy knits, jersey and cashmere. Helbers was always a tidy tailor and his long coats with raglan sleeves, forgiving redingotes and extended tunics looked very polished.
But in the end the monochrome became monotonous, and one exited feeling there was nothing very wrong with this plausible and elegant collection, but also nothing terribly new.
Colin Locascio: On vacation
CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Colin Locascio – there are 10 annually – celebrated his recent success with a very fine show inside in battered loft in the Meatpacking.
If the location had seen better days, Locascio seems destined for a bright future. His sense of stylish whimsy, and fashion juxtapositions – like sequined fish or starfish leaping off sequined tanks worn over cotton cargo pants – was fascinating.
“Family memories,” said Colin, explaining his key theme.
He showed a fantastic soft sculptural safari jacket trimmed and piped with pearls, no less than four times. In salmon corduroy, scrunched up blood red or washed-out blue leather. Travel was very much on his mind.
“I am inspired by aquatic memories, saturation and the mystery of not knowing what is below, and what swims to the top,” he added, pointing to several dazzling sequined looks and mini bubble skirts in candy colors.
Locascio is the ideal era for the Internet age since his clothes are upbeat and uber colorful.
“I am turning 30 this year and feeling a little nostalgic for my youth. You know, I became 7 in year 2000,” smiled the designer, marveling at the huge crowd backstage keen to embrace him.
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