Unlike the European fashion week circuit, designers who show in New York usually stick to traditional studio and gallery venues listed on the event’s official calendar. Space travel unfortunately doesn’t exist yet, so having everything held in one place does make it easier for everyone when it comes to time management, especially when your schedule is slammed with back-to-back showings.
However, studio spaces, while convenient, are a bit dull. You have your occasional designers who try to spruce up the sterility of their catwalks by sprinkling rose petals across the floor or hanging drapes of plastic tarp from the ceiling, but compared to shows held in palatial opera houses or historic factory buildings, these efforts just seem minuscule.
Trekking off the beaten path to support a designer showing in a non-traditional venue is laborious, but rogue presentations are often the most interesting ones. Alexander Wang made attendees schlep all the way to an abandoned theater in East Jesus Nowhere (known to some as Hamilton Heights) this season, but it looked incredible and the ambience really brought the collection to life. MISBHV followed suit with an equally breathtaking location that, like Wang’s, extracted beauty from its derelict condition.
Hailing from Poland, the avant streetwear label has amassed a sizable audience (one that just so happens to include the tastemaker holy trinity: A$AP Rocky, Rihanna and Kylie Jenner) over the last few years thanks to its penchant for niche subcultural motifs and discernibly Eastern clubbing aesthetic.
It does have all the trappings of this whole “Post-Soviet” craze that’s dominating the sartorial zeitgeist right now, but unlike many followers of the trend who fetishize its rebellious flair and capitalize on the irony of its working class un couth, nothing about MISBHV feels forged, spurious or wave-biting. They’re here to tell a story, one that’s directly inspired by the environment and lifestyle of designers Natalia Maczek and Thomas Wirski’s homeland.
For its sophomore New York Fashion Week presentation, the brand took over a neglected corporate building on 34th Street in Midtown, Manhattan. Between the gloomy overcast outside, the crumbling plaster falling from the ceiling and the eerily outdated decor, the whole experience really felt like a surreal time warp into some ’80s Slavic B-movie…or a music video by a nostalgic vaporwave artist.
The backstage area looked like it had once been a cubicle office space for some middle-funded insurance company in 1983, where employees used to carry out their mundane jobs in shoulder-padded polyester blazers and peach-colored kitten heels. Clearly this was intentional, as the setting’s harsh florescent lighting and stained white ceilings couldn’t have been a better display for the collection’s more #officecore looks, which included a series of plaid tailored suits, oversized oxford shirts and turtlenecks.
Contrasting the conservatism were the outfits that kept with the collection’s “6 Years in the Rave” theme, which heightened the high-low brow quirk even further. Glossy clear googles, silk monogram headscarves and utility belts were styled with magenta crushed velvet puffer jackets, tearaway track pants and red patent leather skirts.
Slogans like “EUphoria” and “EXSTACY” emblazoned across long sleeve sweatshirts and pant sides. My personal favorite was the cream-colored shearling number, a suitable choice of outerwear for braving the snowy Warsaw winds after a night of gabber in a sweaty warehouse.
The actual presentation took place inside a drippy theater room, where models emerged from behind a white curtain backlit by swirling neon lights. The soundtrack began with some muted Polish utterings from an omnipresent female voice, only to end with a booming wave of melodic trance.
Definitely the best show/collection I’ve seen this week thus far, even if some asbestos was inhaled at some point.
For more coverage of FW17 Fashion Week be sure to read our other reports on today’s hottest brands.
- Photographer: Nico Amarca / Highsnobiety