Wonderland.

NYFW: HOOD BY AIR SS15

Providing another visual all-immersive spectacle, Hood By Air SS15 is as raw as it comes

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Roots

Shayne Oliver is growing up – or at least, getting serious about design.  He’s never been a designer’s designer, but then again, Hood By Air has never exactly been about the clothes, relying heavily instead on its cultlike following.  It’s a brand for the people – albeit a certain kind of people – marginalized, either sexually or by race, whom he celebrates through a “ghetto-gothic” aesthetic.

While the aesthetic didn’t change, the execution certainly did, graduating from last year’s logo-emblazoned everything (tees, jeans, and apronlike sheaths) to more sophisticated forms – trench coats, and even suits. There were still the tenets of HBA material world – denim, for example, and braided leather – yet nods to Rick Owens and Ann Demeulemeester raised the bar for HBA, culminating through the use of materials into a high-fashion (or at least higher-fashion) ‘asylum’ feel.

Bell and whistles

It wouldn’t be HBA without a spectacle though.  While last year’s show seemed to necessitate it (no complaints though – who didn’t love those irreverent blonde dream-catcher hair extensions, or the sudden evolution of the show into an extreme voguing extravaganza?), this year could have benefited from a little less.

Perhaps still unsure whether his fashion could stand alone, Oliver seemed keen to rack up the gasp-worthy diversions.  Each minute brought a new, Insta-ready moment.  There was a dog.  A live gospel choir.  Men in makeup.  Skinhead tattoos.  A model in crutches (despite his lack of an actual injury).

Locked up

Then of course, there were the plexiglas pillories, which imprisoned models by the hands and wrists – with no apparent explanation (except perhaps that because HBA boisters a quasi-political agenda, its models should do more than just walk).

Not that the models themselves don’t already subvert traditional fashion-show expectations.  Like John Paul Gaultier, HBA is committed to casting apparent misfits, models of varying shapes, colors, sizes – which this time Oliver featured in gender-crossing makeup.

More surprising than all this, however (let’s face it, we’re going to expect subversion from this brand ever after), is HBA’s unlikely growing fan base, which despite – or because of – the brand’s fanatical downtown status, has grown to include members of established fashion community.  I mean, the front row contained at least four card-carrying American Vogue personalities … and they seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Surely that’s a sign of something.

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Words: Seymour Glass.

NYFW: HOOD BY AIR SS15

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