Welcome back Lamine Kouyaté! Xuly Bet was one of the coolest fashion labels when I first came to New York to study fashion. He was a particular favorite of legendary fashion journalist Amy Spindler (another of my heroes) before her passing in 2004. Kouyaté was a whiz with prints and elevated hip hop style to luxury.
Along with efforts of PR rockstar Kelly Cutrone, the designer returned back to New York from France to stage a guerilla-style comeback last September with his spring 2016 collection on the pavements of the city, knowing street style is where fashion rules now.
For his fall 2016 collection, the designer was on the official NYFW show schedule. The Xuly Bet show at Skylight Clarkson was attended by many longtime fans and a new generation of admirers. The collection looked like a throwback to 1990's hip-hop chic with catsuits, big faux fur, over-sized athletic wear and really great footwear.
The shiny metallic finishes and wild prints does not make this a label for the cowering wallflower. Every model strutted out in the catwalk with a maximum amount of swagger. I loved seeing a full cast of women of color, showing how high-fashion urban style can be when done right. The entire catwalk looked so fresh even as it brought you back in time that other designers have tried to emulate recently, but failed in comparison to this one. I believe that is because Xuly Bet is about authenticity rather than hashing out a trendy motif.
I am hoping Xuly Bet will be rediscovered by today's generation of divas for the stage. You can't keep a good fashion designer down.
|all photos by Mariana Leung|