Meet the Designers: Williamsburg Fashion Weekend

This article made possible by a donation to our Writer’s FundRaffle by Selamat Pagi.

Design by Natalia Kraynina with KACI HEAD

There are few better signs that you picked the right thing to wear to an event than walking in and finding that the designer of your clothes went with the same choice.  While normally finding your twin out in public is an annoyance, at Williamsburg Fashion Weekend it’s a sign of maturity: styles incubated in their most intense forms on the stage here bleed onto the bodies in the crowd and out the doors towards the street.

In the most recent occurrence of the biannual show this past Friday and Saturday, the scene opened with terse, politically pointed words from charismatic frontman Arthur Arbit: it’s simply not possible to come home from H&M or Bloomingdale’s with a $29 blouse without slave-like labor being involved in some stage of that supply chain.  He then quickly stepped aside to show us several dreams and a couple nightmares of the alternative.  Selected photos are below, but you can find my full gallery from the first night here.

The first showing of the night was Uta Brauser (photos in gallery) with her Got Armor? collection.  Meant to be a critique of modern gun violence, the stylish vests and shields of this collection are perhaps too plausible, and I loved the image of models pantomiming classic runway moves as they deflected the on-stage barrage of (soft foam) bullets.

Melissa Lockwood’s IQTEST (left) is comprised of stunning, wearable pieces that alternate between the mod and the celestial and that would be impressive enough even without the fact that she didn’t pay for a scrap of the fabric that went into them.  Made entirely of salvaged fabrics, the idea behind IQTEST is to take donated clothes too flawed to be resold and craft them into pieces with real value to benefit cancer charities.

Nathalie Kraynina’s S/S 2013 line (above) traded in the flowing designs of WFW shows past in favor of more geometric pieces that showcase her ability to juxtapose a single strong garment against the model’s (in this case, very vertical thanks to her always spot-on hair design) form to create a powerful look that doesn’t rely on excessive ornamentation.  Her outfits were further accented with leather harnesses and accents by Apartment 4B’s Kaci Head.

Finishing out the first night was the rising star Mandate of Heaven (photos in gallery), whose runway show I’m at a loss for a better description of than “goddamn sexy.”  Playful, flattering, and made of great materials, I felt like I’d been had: despite a $10 advance ticket price, these models were clearly having a much better time on stage in these outfits than I was watching them. Ok, that’s not entirely true, watching the show was pretty great too, but the line looks like a lot of fun to wear.

I was absent for the second night, so I’ll paraphrase WFW’s Creative Director Gina Tron’s notes and present photography from Jena Cumbo for the next six:

I got the distinct impression that I missed something really unique on the second night of WFW.  It began with Marco Santaniello’s (left) performance that included Mario Brothers music, crazed dancing, and LED-laced t-shirts and game boy t-skirts. In short, all the little things that make life worth living.

Shazaam Magic (right) came to us from Denmark, and clearly it shows in her work.  Between fun outfits, knee socks, and a performance that blended the always-classy rave scene with just a hint of stripping, the guys in the good seats up front apparently got quite a show.

Shute Organic‘s (left) loose, “100% hand-destroyed” garments were also apparently quite revealing.  Made of sinuous, totally organic bamboo fibers, let’s just go ahead and call that excellent use of negative space.

SDN by Marcus Hicks (right) was perhaps a bit more ready-to-wear this season, with interesting structural elements and, like their designer, a lot of personality.

Uta Bekaia & Ideal Glass NY (left) is what I have in mind both when I think of how much more interesting WFW is than the typical runway show and when I remind myself not to eat too much right before bed.  With creations straight out of a nightmare – think bustles, antlers, and pigs in dresses – the warm, friendly Uta somehow managed to up the surreal from last year.  God help us all next season.

Derrick Hinds‘s creations (left) are stylish, sharp, and eminently wearable.  He also sports an incredible cape.

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