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Say what you will about brands decamping from New York for Paris, but there’s still plenty of talent producing the kind of edgy ready-to-wear that makes the city tick.
The departure of Proenza Schouler and Rodarte, the angsty teens of the American fashion industry at 16 and 13 years old, respectively, has only allowed brands like Chromat, Matthew Adams Dolan and Eckhaus Latta — New York’s gutsier, grimier younger siblings — to shine.
On day two of NYFW, the youngest brand of the trio, Matthew Adams Dolan, came out of the gate ready to assume the mantle for king of new wave workwear. The 30-year-old, who became synonymous with voluminous, cinched just-so denim after Rihanna and Lady Gaga both took a liking to his designs, continued to experiment with shape and redefining those “wardrobe staples” we all know and love. The oxford shirt was given a slight hunchback, the skirt suit was redone in denim and paired with tartan ruffles. Cream cable knit cardigans were hung so low they lost all sense of uptight preppiness usually associated with the usually yacht-chic look.
While there were some provocative elements of the show — a nearly identical Barbie pink sweater modeled by both a male and female model — Dolan could run even farther in the direction of the office avant garde. With electric plaids and jewel-toned satin kitten heels, the designer’s aesthetic seemed geared toward Cher Horowitz chic, and it would be great to see him embrace that pithier edge. In any case, this being only his second show, Dolan is surely one to watch.
— Sam Reed (@HereReedThis) February 10, 2018
Day two also brought us the fall collection from swimwear brand Chromat. Though founded ten years ago, former architect Becca McCharen-Tran’s label has only recently snagged the spotlight after being named a finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize in 2017.
It’s the brand’s focus on diversity and inclusion when it comes to the runways, however, that has helped Chromat build its rabid fan base. A crowd spanning the length of two city blocks was gathered outside of the show on Friday afternoon, with eager attendees hoping for a standing room view; meanwhile, celebs like Keke Palmer and Whoopi shuffled inside. When the show finally kicked off, that same crowd — as diverse as the models on the runway — whooped and hollered as women of all shapes and sizes, ages, ethnicities, religions and abilities strutted their stuff.
Backstage, too, models and crew could be heard yelping when women returned triumphant from the catwalk. The energy was alive and firey and palpable, mimicking the bold Hot Cheeto-reds (styled with an actual bag of Hot Cheetos as a cheeky accessory) and neon yellows woven throughout.
While there’s no doubt that Chromat is leading the charge in the fashion world by proving once and for all that diversity is more than a passing trend, the collection, too, showed the brand’s staying power, playing not only with color but with utilitarian elements like bungee cords, metal grommets and straps that felt playful and punchy rather than dour.
The following drizzly day in Brooklyn, it was Eckhaus Latta’s time to shine. No longer the splashy youngin‘ on the NYFW circuit, the unisex brand nonetheless continued to prove worthy of its buzz with a collection for their signature misfit muse. Because of its circumvention of the typical circus of celebrity dressing, the brand doesn’t have as much mainstream renown, however Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta’s 7-year-old label has nestled its way into the hearts of fashion folks — and for good reason.
The show opened with a motley mix of pale and translucent hues, including a gauzy spaghetti-strap smock done in a dingy cream — the color of plastic left to bleach in the sun. Seventies silhouettes by way of the early aughts (low slung pants with a slight flare, crop tops and curve hugging knit dresses, all impeccably tailored) served as the canvas for these hues. Beetle Juice stripes, acid wash true blue denim tinged with orange, Sweet Tart lavender and a queasy chartreuse rounded out the unique color story which felt jolting yet cohesive at the same time.
A poem about a homeless camp took the place of traditional show notes (“we all lived in the most beautiful house; more so an estate… instead of windows we had soft blue tarps that blew in the wind”), but the piece seemed to reiterate that though the collection draws inspiration from things faded, decayed with age, and reused, it is nonetheless infused with joy, a celebration community.
Presenting its 16th collection on Saturday, Eckhaus Latta has no need to reiterate its commitment to runway diversity, both in terms of size, age and ethnicity. Whereas at Chromat, the focus seemed to be on the vulnerability — and, inadvertently, the strength — of each model, at Eckhaus Latta, androgyny and diversity are so deeply woven into the brand’s DNA that the presence of a model over the age of 25 seems not like a cause for a celebratory whoop but rather as second nature. At Eckhaus Latta, the clothes — and they were damn good — came first.
— Sam Reed (@HereReedThis) February 10, 2018
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