Wonderland.

NYFW: HOOD BY AIR AW16

Start saving your luggage tags, Hood By Air look to pilgrimages for AW16.

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Taking Flight

The first clue was HBA’s FW16 invitation, featuring an image of a red patent leather suitcase, with an luggage tag reading “Pilgrim Series”; then, set on all the seats at the show, plane tickets for a flight from “NYC to NYFW” with a second reference to pilgrimage. There’d be an airport theme, that much was obvious – but how would it play out?

The first look offered little in terms of explanation – a black leather coat with matching floppy knee-high boots, worn by a redhead with long wavy hair escaping the bottom of a glittering silver headwrap – a beauty look more Studio 54 than stewardess. A few similar looks were followed by the first aesthetic plot twist – a male model with literal “pilgrim” hair, parted down the middle, with tightly wound curls on each side of his head like someone from the Mayflower. After that, all bets were off: more pilgrim hair, then luggage converted into blazers and dresses, disheveled shirts worn as hoods, and pieces like a floor-length fur coat wrapped over and over with bright red shrink wrap. It was a conflation of Mayflower pilgrims with pilgrims in the sense of travellers, with allusions everywhere to haphazardly tossed clothes, and printed luggage tags hanging off collars and boots and dresses.

Running Late 

The haphazard feeling was conveyed by the models too, who halfway through the show started frantically crisscrossing in the wrong direction on the runway, like lost passengers scrambling to catch a flight. Pieces ran the gamut from more sport to more luxe, with plenty of HBA staples making the cut: straps, glistening patent leather, and zippers galore, resulting in the aggressive take-no-prisoners vibe at the core of the brand’s DNA.

In Crowd Meets Out Crowd

Befitting the airport theme, the venue this season was bigger than ever, and packed. With a front row including Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington, HBA has gone from humble beginnings to the hottest name around, somehow managing to appeal more and more to the establishment. This doesn’t mean HBA is forgetting their anti-establishment roots. Should anyone doubt where the brand’s loyalties lie – that is, who they exist for in the first place – the audience sparkled with misfits and bedazzled club kids, the underrepresented youth they’ve championed from Day 1, who are the real pilgrims pushing social progress into the future.

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Words: R.J. Hernandez

NYFW: HOOD BY AIR AW16

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