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Thursday, July 11, 2024

LONDON: Lore of Loverboy Exhibit - Club to Catwalk Punk

I just returned from London, where I wondered what the state of punk fashion was today. At Somerset House, there was a fabulous exhibit by designer-in-residence Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY. 

The designer's looks include fans like Tilda Swinton and Harry Styles. What makes his work classically British punk is the incorporation of traditional Tartans and a healthy dose of anarchy. What makes his work modern club fashion is the mix of surrealism and novelty motifs with streetwear. What makes LOVERBOY art are the pieces that double as sculptures, like the Wedgewood dragon helmet, repurposed trash dress, or my favorite banana shoes below.

The spirit of punk fashion started off as anti-establishment and involved mutilated, trashed clothing in many cases. Fashion collections from many a "club kid" turned "designer" often have little merit or endurance. Ten years into his thriving label and seeing Charles Jeffrey's workspace and process, the "club kid" persona should be the very least of his designer identity. Seeing the sketches, the pattern and draping, the official tartan registry certificate, and the thoughtfulness of his collaborations, the LOVERBOY works more like a classic couturier atelier than many contemporary labels.

For anyone who thinks the art in modern club fashion, or social media savvy designers is gone. They only need to see the Charles Jeffrey Loverboy collection to restore their faith.

The Lore of Loverboy exhibit runs until September 1, 2024.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

NYFW: Custo Barcelona Fall 2024

Forget quiet luxury. Custo Barcelona's Fall 2024 is all about maximalist style. I love Custo Barcelona's bright graphic prints every season. When the weather gets more relaxed and more parties are on the calendar, I love the sparkly texture color-blocked into the silhouettes in this collection. 

Fall 2024 had a mix of easy, relaxed bodies for those still in post-Covid comfort mode. Then, there are a few body-conscious lean dresses to show off the physiques of those who worked out the last few years. 
A few graphic, street art-inspired embellished prints would look great as an elevated pairing with jeans under a jacket. 
My favorite was the sparkly turquoise fringe pieces that lit up the runway. 
Beauty-wise, the models were kept casual and fresh. Why compete with the main show of the clothes?
Bring on the sun!

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

NYFW: Zang Toi Fall 2024 Pays Tribute to His Brother See Luon

NYFW Fall 2024 was a season of deeply emotional collections. Last night, Designer Zang Toi's fashion show served as a celebration of life for his beloved brother, See Luon. A beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace" was sung at the end of the runway. At the same time, the House of Toi family gathered on the runway with roses. Show guests and models were personally invited to pay tribute as well. You may have read my previous runway reports of Zang Toi shows and how they are loved by the photographer riser. One of the many reasons the House of Toi is devoted was the famous curried chicken sandwiches, often handmade by See Luon himself to nourish photographers who often waited hours to shoot the collection. 

Tonight's riser was a reunion of longtime press corps photographers, many of whom traveled to the city from far away to shoot this show specifically after skipping many other designers for NY Fashion Week. 

 The collection itself took inspiration from vintage Parisian glamour. Long fishtail gowns in velvet, luxurious brightly colored furs, sparkling jeweled details. The palette was a romantic black, red, hot pink, and rich orange. Motifs of roses were woven throughout in prints and embroidered appliques. The daytime looks had graphic prints with the same color palette and ladylike vintage silhouettes. Beauty-wise, deep red lipstick, and a red accent in the slicked-back hair was the season's look. 

For anyone who doubts that fashion design can be meaningful or therapeutic, just sampling Fall 2024 collections should answer that inquiry. I want to think that See Luon was watching the show from above, loving the gorgeous work that he supported and inspired, and saw a room full of people there to appreciate his contribution.

Photos by Mariana Leung

Monday, February 12, 2024

NYFW: The Blonds FUEGO

The Blonds brought the heat to the Starrett Lehigh runway Saturday night. Their collection, FUEGO, was a tribute to Latin culture, the fiery, the strong, and the stylish figures who inspired them. Design-wise, this manifested itself into dimensional flame appliques in snake patterns and metallic leather and crystal-encrusted details. 

The Blonds as a label is not for day-to-day lifestyle wardrobes. They are one-of-a-kind statement pieces favored by the biggest entertainment icons like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Miley Cyrus. You need charisma (and some strong muscles) to carry off any of these larger-than-life looks. You need a hefty budget for the handmade pieces, but consider it an investment for your worldwide tour. 

If you were a nightlife fixture in the 1990s, this aesthetic would seem familiar as a muse. Legendary club divas like Diane Brille and drag queens were in the audience, as well as entertainers like Becky G.

The hair and makeup of course had to be on the same level. I watched the wigs, which were as sculptural as the clothing, being built up backstage. I have never seen winged eyeliner ready to take flight more than the models on this night.

Watching this runway, I felt nostalgic for a time in New York when going OUT was a production. Sure, a chill night at home is appealing, but I miss when the process of getting ready was as much fun as the destination. The Blonds will forever capture that era.


Saturday, February 10, 2024

NYFW: AdoreMe's Romantic Takeover, Plus, Ashanti!

Are you ready for romance? AdoreMe's inclusive lingerie collection opened and got NY Fashion Week off to a sexy start. When this brand first came on my radar, I was impressed that it claimed to have over 60 sizes. As a technical designer, fitting intimate apparel is already tough, let along for an extensive range of sizes as they claimed to offer. 

I first tried their offerings in 2020 when I was a different size. I tried them again in recent seasons. I am not proportional, finding bras particularly hard to find. I must say, for their cute, themed collections, cut-outs, straps, etc. Their fit was spot-on! Their prices are reasonable, which is another tough thing to do for detailed lingerie. 

While many companies claim to be inclusive in their sizing, they don't show that in their marketing. This runway appeared to show models that flaunted their full range of sizing in all shapes with great attitude. 

The lineup was divided into three moods, with the design director narrating the runway in the style of "Bridgerton". The first was ready for Valentine's Day, the second had a more tropical palette, the final group had a bridal theme. 2023's bow trend was going strong as the top accesory for hair, bras and butts.

As a surprise, the fashion show closed with a surprise performance by superstar Ashanti. The glowing singer slayed the stage in a sexy leather outfit and jewel-studded microphone. The entire crowd joined in singing with her in the after-party. 

Happy Valentine's Day!
Photos by Mariana Leung


Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Costume Themes From The Carnival of Venice

The Carnival of Venice is in full swing in the city of Canals. The multi-week Carnevale di Venezia brings out the most lavish, elaborate costumes and masks the creative world has seen. The classic look takes its cues from 18th-century European elite. Usually, in coupled pairs, the outfits consist of corseted, full-skirted gowns, capes, tailcoats and pants ending below the knee, all elaborately embellished with with lace and embroidery in complementary colors

As the theme for 2024 was Marco Polo's journey to the Orient and back, there was a range of Asiatique-inspired looks, ranging from artistic to culturally appropriated to, unsurprisingly, downright racist. 

While 90% of the costumes I saw followed tradition, there was a distinctive Goth and Steampunk offshoot. This was reflected in the souvenir masks I saw for sale as well. The majority of classical theatrical masks vs steampunk masks was about 90% to 10%. Interesting how no other trend seemed to infiltrate the selection. I wonder why Steampunk made the cut?
Disney characters made their mark here. Disney villains were abundant for characters that rejected Venetian tradition or Steampunk. There were a few more creative groups, like my favorite Aladdin and Pinnochio crew.

So are you ready to BRING IT to Venice? Get ready to dress your best. Enjoy!
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