Providing another visual all-immersive spectacle, Hood By Air SS15 is as raw as it comes
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).
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.
Words: Seymour Glass.