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HBA Put On a Wench-Themed NYFW Show Featuring Wolfgang Tillmans

Shayne Oliver enlisted Fade to Mind DJ Total Freedom to soundtrack the show.
September 11, 2016, 9:50pm
Photos by Don Buckley, courtesy of I-D

This afternoon, NYC fashion collective Hood By Air debuted its Spring 2017 ready-to-wear collection as part of New York Fashion Week's 2016 Fall edition. The PornHub-sponsored show borrowed its name from HBA co-founder Shayne Oliver and Arca's collaborative musical project Wench, and was soundtracked by Fade to Mind-affiliated DJ Total Freedom, who regularly plays HBA's runway shows. Celebrities such as Rick Ross, Jaden Smith, and Naomi Campbell sat front row, reminding everyone just how far the brand's influence reaches.


The show's many sliced-up and rearranged motifs ranged in origin from industrial workwear (heavy-duty overalls, zippers, and fabrics), to athletic wear (swimmer parkas, orange-tinted sunglasses), to formal business attire (suits, dress shirts, and ties). Several of the looks boasted multi-colored cowboy boots (often with heels consisting of a second cowboy boot entirely), heavily branded imagery from pornography companies Hustler and PornHub, and corporate warnings like "Not suitable for children." HBA and Wench logos abounded, evoking the idea of music merch, and with it the brand's strong ties to the music community and GHE20G0TH1K.

Total Freedom' set began with slivered alarm motifs and evolved into a noisily amorphous suite of skeletal ballroom beats, disco house, and swelling action film-esque sound design. Breakbeats as well as woozily pitch-bent covers of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" and Divinyls "I Touch Myself" made their way into the mix, too, punching through the cacophony and then erupting into it again. According to a tip THUMP received, he also played new material from the band Wench.

All the models had oceans of gel in their hair, lathered on so thick that the stuff arguably looked like semen. And under the dark, club-like lighting, their hyper-theatrical walks—some hunched over, others dragging bags behind them like pets, another on his iPhone the whole time—suggested a beautifully, antagonistically free mode of being in the world amidst and even through the traditionally institutional realms of merchandise, sports, and business.


Arca described Wench's work in an interview with Dazed earlier this year, and the project's ethos certainly seems relevant to this show: "[It's] like a breeze under you, like some fucking air to pause with and look at the world. When you close your eyes and you feel beautiful. Isn't that what drives us?"

The flyer for the show was created by multimedia platform SSION's Cody Critcheloe, and featured a confident, disheveled model with their right nipple exposed, posing in the centerpiece of a Baby-Sitters Club-style book cover design. Topping it all off, acclaimed photographer and noted Frank Ocean collaborator Wolfgang Tillmans even walked in the show.

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