Stage Struck

Elvis, Prince, and Michael Jackson Were All at NYFW: Reviews of The Blonds and Barragán

At The Blonds’ NYFW show, pop icons of old influenced some outrageous, bright and shiny looks, while at Barragán, the fashion was as fluid as the notions of gender identity.

The Blonds

Teyana Taylor became the star of fashion week when she walked in streetwear brand GCDS’ show last week.  Next, she closed Philipp Plein’s show with a writhing-on-the-floor performance that rivaled her famous dance in Kanye West's “Fade” music video.

As if we needed further proof that Taylor’s runway takeover is emblematic of the current cultural melting pot that is New York Fashion Week, the 26-year-old model and dancer opened for The Blonds on Tuesday night, strutting down the catwalk in precipitously high heeled boots.

She wore a crystal-encrusted jacket over a blue latex thong bodysuit that showed off her ass tattoos. The heels weren't easy, but Taylor still managed a few unexpected dance moves and twirls--and the crowd at Skylight Clarkson Studios went berserk.

The Blonds usually stage their shows in a space that's less than half the size of the studio gallery at Skylight. The new setting signaled growth for David and Philippe Blond, who launched their brand 10 years ago but--as the infamous nail artist Jan Arnold told David backstage--they "just keep getting better and better."

The Blonds tend to work with one or two themes in their shows, but this season’s collection was designed to reflect the “core of our inspiration, which is really artists, musicians and entertainers we consider to be legendary,” David told The Daily Beast backstage while his models got dressed for the show. “Every piece in the collection references those legends in some way.”

A gold bomber jacket paired with matching gold bell bottoms was a throwback to Elvis’ famous gold lamé suit. Another white, floral lace bomber and trouser combo with a transparent panel above the bum referenced the yellow lace “butt suit” that Prince wore while performing at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards.

An embellished black leather corset paired with thigh high denim boots riffed on Tupac’s style (his leather vests in particular), while a showstopper of a jacket covered in Preciosa crystals was inspired by Michael Jackson. (Paris Hilton ventured backstage before the show and astutely remarked that this jacket was “sick.”)

There were also plenty of signature looks we’ve come to expect from the designers: chainmail corsets affixed with 3-D floral blooms or sequined birds of paradise with feather fringe; denim corsets with crystal accents; and corsets in psychedelic floral prints draped with braided gold chains.

“We’ve tried to reimagine the idea of this alternate universe again where all these girls are super empowered and feline,” said David. “There’s always a feline, animalistic undertone with us.”

It was important to both him and Phillipe for the models to express themselves as individuals, with their own hair and their own singular looks rather than being constrained by wigs, as they’ve done in previous seasons. (They simply wore flowers in their hair, in keeping with the birds of paradise theme.)

“To us, she is the future. She is this generation’s Grace Jones,” said David of Taylor. “You can’t really compare her to anyone else because she’s breaking her own boundaries in terms of what she’s doing in her career, but we really think it’s come full circle.” LIZZIE CROCKER

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Barragán

The fashion was as fluid as the many gender and fashion identities at Barragán’s show on Tuesday night. This reporter was stationed next to a group of extremely loud looked-like-teens shouting and clasping their hands with delight as each new look appeared on the runway. Their enthusiasm was both lovely and utterly grating.

Opposite was a magnificently chic, dour man who kept his sunglasses on, and observed the show as if he were ruefully studying a complex math equation. By day six, New York Fashion Week can get you like that.

This was a much fancier-schmanicer show than my last Barragán experience, which had taken place in an ante-room of a hotel, involving a lot of flesh being shown and a kind of pantomime about hauling a large rock around. Barragán is not just about fashion, but upsetting all manner of gender and sexual identity binaries and boundaries. It’s extremely welcome.

Tuesday night’s was a more conventional runway show than those rock-moving theatrics; though the clothes were anything but conventional. Male-looking models wore tight skirts and little strips of material across chests. There were tiny faux leather hip-shorts, and breasts-revealing tight bikini tops tucked into pants, fishnet skirts and bras; a maxi skirt paired with a black band apron top. A bodysuit cape came with a lowrider mini-skirt. Translation if you’re confused: you needed to be waif-like thin, or have total body confidence to wear this stuff.

And like to be stared at.

Jeans were worn so low you would need a second waist around your ass. A tribal chain top and silk pants was worn with maximum confrontational attitude, and would be totally the right outfit for an eventful Thanksgiving. Barragán’s brilliant and mischievous challenging of convention is continuing. TIM TEEMAN