Gauntlett Cheng’s presentations always challenge your expectations of what a fashion show should look like. They’ve shown collections on a rocky, East River cruise at sunset, cramped New York’s young fashion elite into a tight, dimly lit club and, this season, invited everyone to a TriBeCa apartment with winding halls, creaky floors and peeling paint. It’s not a polished, big budget NYFW production, but designer duo Esther Gauntlett and Jenny Cheng are purposeful in their oddball approach, wielding a world that subverts sensuality and champions the outsider.
For spring ’18, the Gauntlett Cheng girl wore floral silk headscarves, vintage grandmothers’ jewelry and scuffed white sneakers—loosely referential to Brooklyn’s Hasidic population. They found unexpected ways to reveal skin that felt at once childlike and mature: a strapless dress with repeated horizontal slashes down the body, and collared day dresses with slits subtly revealing models’ breasts. Through these smart details, the collection delivered an unusual balance of shy softness and provocative confidence.
Since the beginning, however, Gauntlett Cheng’s strength has been its knitwear, and this collection saw no shift. A pearly knit dress with thin straps and a low, boxy neckline, a light knit top that hung loosely off the model’s shoulders and showcased her bare midriff—these delicate highlights are how Esther and Jenny should anchor their burgeoning brand and continue honing their much-needed voice in New York fashion.
Photography: Dillon Sachs (Courtesy of Gauntlett Cheng)