New York Fashion Week is back. Well, it was back — its over now.
The ongoing pandemic has made large-scale events a bit complicated over the last few years. Among those: New York Fashion Week, the semiannual procession of runway shows, presentations, and parties where designers premiere upcoming collections. While the week has technically been held for the last few seasons, it was this month's that felt like a true return. Parties, shows, and — more importantly — collections where designers genuinely had something to say and were having fun saying it.
Below are some of our favorite shows (with a few looks we can't get over) from the week.
This is technically Peter Do's debut into menswear. While a few men have certainly worn his prior collections, now it's official that the designer is doing it for the boys. And thank god for that.
Do's strength is in his tailoring and that was more than apparent in the offerings. The looks captured a sort of relaxed sophistication, an effortless luxury that I'm not sure I can live without having seen it. In the styling, the shirts come unbuttoned, almost down to the navel and wrapped around the waist. (For the more conservative days, you can button the shirts up normally.) Trousers balloon out beneath blazers before tapering down to his now trademark platform boots. It was masterful.
“Now I'm excited to say that Peter Do is for everyone, because we don't just dress women or men, we dress people,” the designer said in his show notes. “In pursuit of completing the Peter Do universe, people have always told us, ‘It’s about time that you launched men’s!’ Although men have been wearing Peter Do for some time now.”
And what a launch it was.
A bit of full disclosure: I've long been a fan of Willy Chavarria. I attended his very first show at New York Fashion Week and have kept up with the brand since. Through his line, the designer blends and sometimes wrestles with who he is: a gay Mexican American man raised in California in immigrant communities. The result is an amalgamation of designs that often strike chords relating to religion, masculinity, sexuality, community, and more. This season proved no different, putting religion squarely in the driver's seat.
Chavarria's show was held at a church of all places. We filed into pews as an organ played. This wasn't a staged set: bibles were tucked into the slots in front of us, and light came in through stained glass above. This was the real thing. Models came down the aisle, and then up onto the pulpit before coming down again, for a runway. And they did so wearing looks that were trademark Willy: oversized, striking silhouettes in classic workman's colors like navy, black, and khaki on models that looked like the guys I run into outside of my apartment in the streets of Washington Heights.
Mesh basketball jerseys muscled their way into the collection layered overtop white shirts. Button downs featured the dramatic sleeves one might associate with the clergy — the skirts that appeared with the looks seemed obvious nods to that as well. There was the sex too, with a rubber tank top slyly slotting into the range. Double blazers featured strong, imposing shoulders with the body wrapped in tight, almost hugging the torsos of the models. With the voluminous trousers that are essentially a pre-requisite for a Chavarria show, the effect was even more pronounced.
The collection, with its closing red carpet-ready looks, three of which sported oversized silk taffeta roses, is undoubtedly one of Chavarria's strongest. And while that is exciting for an independent brand, it only makes me salivate more thinking of how it might influence his work as a vice president of design at Calvin Klein.
Over the past few years, I've watched Barragan slowly infiltrate my Instagram feed, generally worn by some cool nightlife girlie. It's been mostly by way of the brand's recognizable peekaboo tees or crop tops, or printed swim briefs. With his latest collection, Victor Barragan will undoubtedly continue that takeover.
The collection itself is wrapped up in tropes of American culture and capitalism. There was rural America's camo, Wall Street's neckties and briefcases, and the set itself was filled with trash while the crowd crammed against metal gates as if at a festival. The backdrop was a spraypainted mural and models entered from a mock portapotty. It was a show in every sense of the word.
The collection carried a lot of that showmanship. Footwear turned into duct tape wound around the leg. The styling was at times, in a word, chaotic, but purposely so. But the pieces were certainly there: button-down Oxford shirts were treated with similar fabric layering techniques as the peekaboo tops in seasons past and the sportier elements — shorts, a tracksuit, a jersey-like top (the latter with the word "meth" emblazoned across the chest) — proved wearable.
But of it all, I can't get the phrases out of my head. "J'adore Ur Hole," someone sexts via the chest of their camo hoodie. (Worn by Angus O'Brien to boot.) "Homophobe," another broadcasts on his belt buckle. (This, worn by David Hand.) Both are the kind of perfect absurdity that will find itself back into those same queer nightlife circles, and, once again, on my Instagram.