Since its inception in 2012, VFILES has occupied its own niche in New York's fashion scene. Part online fashion community, part cult boutique and part talent incubator, Julie Anne Quay's creation stays fresh and relevant by keeping its ear to the ground and empowering future visionaries. Each season the VFILES Runway gives five fledgling designers the opportunity to show their collections at New York Fashion Week, and each season it delivers more than a few pleasant surprises.
This year's winners were Anton Belinskiy, Kim Shui, Neuro Couture, Ottolinger and Hardeman. The show kicked off with Sophie Beem, who performed a song-and-dance number off her upcoming EP in an outfit of neon lights and knitwear, accompanied by a drumline clad in tyvek coveralls. The rave-appropriate clothes were from VFILES_XO, the store's in-house line of wearable tech gear.
First of the VFILES Runway winners, Kim Shui's material-blocked femininity mixed fur and animal prints. Kylie Jenner attended the show in one of Shui's sheer lace bodysuits that left little to the imagination.
Anton Belinskiy's colorful sportswear aesthetic included barbed wire graphics, Crown-of-Thornes imagery and "Utopia" slogans on everything from oversized anoraks to crewneck sweaters - all of which were styled with white New Balance 624s.
Ottolinger's collection followed, showing oversized shearling jackets, hole-filled matching sets with frayed brown edges reminiscent of cigarette burns, and bleached, blown-out denim skirts that looked like a tattered pair of well-worn jeans.
Sophie Hardeman's envelope-pushing collection consisted primarily of denim, and began with a model clutching a pair of dogs. It included a long denim skirt pulled over a model's face and turned up like an indigo cornucopia, save for the white briefs and Chuck Taylors of the poor model below, who had to make do with a frayed hole that served as his only viewport.
The internet came to life when a pair of models in white anoraks hit the newly dark stage - soundtracked by resident VFILES DJ A-trak - before a plethora of memes from Donald Trump to a dancing Pepe the Frog were projected on them. Such was the demonstration of Neuro Couture, a designer exploring "how we can directly link what we think with what we wear." Dank memes, indeed. The show closed with an encore from the drumline - and then from behind, a surprise performance by Tyga, who performed a 15-minute medley of hits before the show's end.
VFILES may not be something everybody "gets," but it's certainly something everyone can appreciate - from the fashion deaf who appreciate a good performance, to the jaded editors who are still self-aware enough to know that they've been entertained. This is what a New York fashion show should feel like - a safe space where new ideas and different vibes are wholly embraced, and where young designers and fashion outsiders can feel empowered, not alienated. Maybe that's the secret to VFILES' success - if you build it, they will come.