Frankly, by day three everyone gets pretty tired of fashion week. Editors are running on black coffee and cigarettes—just in case you didn’t know, Sarah Vaughn was singing about models’ and editors’ diets when she sang that song—and schedules are more packed than a Prada sample sale.
I suppose I shouldn’t complain, seeing as my first show was scheduled for 3PM. Patrik Ervell showed this season at Milk Studios, which is the foil to Bryant Park’s frenetic insanity. Compared to the tents, Milk Studios might as well be the hanging gardens of Babylon—the security guards don’t treat you like you’re about to jump a celebrity, there are less crashers, and the shows are generally better. But that’s enough about the venue.
Patrik Ervell is known for his minimalist aesthetic though this season felt even more austere than in collections past. The room was set up like a scene from Franz Kafka’s brain with strange dream-like music filling the room while models walked like lab rats around and around translucent panels. The clothes had a prep school student meets Oliver Twist feel with stark, boxy silhouettes and a muted color palette.
There was more time to kill until my next presentation than tattoos on Lil Wayne so I headed over to Robert Verdi’s “luxe lab” for a few hours. The celebrity stylist and newly-minted reality show star has a loft set up for beleaguered editors to come and alternatively be health conscious via Blue Print Cleanse’s raw dishes and louche swilling glasses of Absolut Vodka’s new Açai berry flavor.
J. Alexander from America’s Next Top Model was also hanging out there. I spoke to him at length about André Leon Talley joining the cast and his not-always favorable treatment at fashion shows (he’s even been told by clipboard girls that he wasn’t wanted at a show).
Mercedes-Benz, the official sponsor of New York Fashion Week, was also providing transportation from the Luxe Lab so when I had to return to Milk Studios for Band of Outsiders, I arrived in style.
Walking into the Band of Outsiders presentation felt like walking into the costume department of That 70’s Show. Somehow they managed to fit a Nixon-era XJ Jaguar in the space along with other vintage paraphernalia like typewriters, old desks and models hanging from chandeliers.
Fittingly, the clothes matched the décor with thick cord suits, shrunken blazers and shearling coats for men while the women wore pleated tweed trousers, patterned shirts and the occasional fur. The effect was a sort of a nerdy yet irreverent look—there was even a dash of playful absurdity with girls wearing cleated oxfords. My favorite piece from the collection was a band skirt made from silk ties and cotton belts.
For the last show of the day, it was back to Bryant Park to see the Arise show, put on by Arise Magazine to promote African culture. Last season, Grace Jones walked in the show. This time around, it was a tour de force with black supermodels Chanel Iman and Sessilee Lopez headlining. Three different labels showed this season, each with a distinct yet ethnic style. The first collection was Black Coffee by Jacques Van der Watt and Danica Lepen, which featured cocoon-like jackets that engulfed the body in swaths of fabric. Loin Cloth & Ashes by Anisa Mpungwe was the second to show. The Tanzanian born designer’s collection alternated between high fashion looks with harem pants and strong shoulders to frou frou outfits that looked like church going attire above 140th street. It was sophistication with a twist that at times worked better than others. Last to present was Deola Sagoe, a Nigerian born designer whose collection was markedly darker than her catwalk predecessors. The collection felt edgier with black lace and models stomping quickly down the runway like a Big Mac was waiting backstage. Sadly, that’ll have to wait until Fashion Week is over.