Where Does Streetwear Belong in the New York Fashion Industry?
A party for Richardson's collaboration with Pornhub—plus something far more refined at Brandon Maxwell, and Future takes his mask off for Philipp Plein.
Photograph courtesy of BFA.
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Fashion Week is so weird. Watching runway after runway, flipping your head over and over from left to right, you begin to think think things like: "People are really betting on bare butts for Spring 2018." There were bare butts at Tom Ford, bare butts from the weirdos at Linder, and bare butts at the Richardson x Pornhub party.
You read that right: on Thursday night, Andrew Richardon's streetwear label held a party to celebrate its collaboration with the internet's largest pornography site, an event which featured exotic dancers shaking it in Richardson x Pornhub bodysuits on a platform runway to trap music, while dorky hypebeasts in hats from Balenciaga's Bernie Sanders-inspired menswear collection tucked fistfuls of singles into the dancers' Richardson x Pornhub thongs. Lourdes Leon, Stella Schnabel, Paloma Elsesser, Joey Bada$$, and Dave East were all there, and it was dirty and really fun.
At the party, an artist friend wriggled his eyebrows and asked me, "Are fashion shows normally like this?" Well, actually, yes: fashion shows are a lot of people shimmying on a platform in crazy outfits as spectators throw money at them. It's just that normally the money is thrown a few months later, at Bergdorf Goodman or Dover Street or on Net-a-Porter.
Perhaps a streetwear brand and a pornography website seem like strange bedfellows for the fashion industry, but Pornhub also collaborated with Hood by Air a few seasons ago. (Though that beloved and bizzaro label is on hiatus, its designer, Shayne Oliver, is now at Helmut Lang, whose show is among next week's most anticipated). And though the fashion industry retains a narrow and elitist aura, in a way it seems that anything can be fashion now, with streetwear labels asserting themselves within the industry establishment as a kind of cottage, ethical answer to fast fashion: relatively cheap items emerge on the marketplace with almost mythical hype that extinguishes more quickly than the allure of a trendy boot or it-bag ever could. Supreme, with its notorious "Thursday drops" and recent Louis Vuitton collaboration, is of course the vanguard brand here, with Procell's tee collection with Alexander Wang as the latest thing to pair with Proenza skirts and Celine sandals for fashion week street(style) cred.
It's hard to say whether this interest stems from the fact that the fashion industry likes anything young and new, or if it's just a part of its bizarre, ongoing obsession with skateboarding. While streetwear brands seem ambivalent about and even eager to capitalize on this new symbiosis—Procell and Wang seem like a very happy couple—the must-read of fashion week thus far has been a post on the website StyleZeitgeist: "Why Supreme Isn't Cool Anymore, Not that Anyone Cares." As I was fetching a glass of champagne at the Calvin Klein party Friday night, I overheard one Raf-clad guy say to another, "That guy who said Supreme isn't cool is here," as if showing his face under the strobe lights flashing on the Sterling Ruby pompoms was an act of bravery. Quoth Eugene Rabkin's piece: "I'd wager that most people who wear Supreme today have never been on a skateboard." Ouch. Still, lusting after a $168 Richardson x Pornhub sweatshirt or $198 Supreme leopard-print fleece is preferable in some ways to feeding a fast-fashion machine that is plagued by ethical and sustainability issues.
Much of fashion week is about what's next, though Brandon Maxwell is interested in channeling what came before. He showed a collection of very ladies-who-lunch clothing at Doubles, the sumptuous red private club in the basement of uptown's Sherry-Netherland Hotel, which was founded in the Bonfire of the Vanities era by a group including Patricia Buckley and Nan Kempner. In a season in which more designers than ever are casting models with a diverse range of ages and types of bodies, Maxwell's runway roster tapped into the star power of the 90s supermodel golden age, with both Hadids, Joan Smalls, and Jourdan Dunn all walking, and Karlie Kloss ending the show in a dress so wide it brushed the laps of nearly everyone in the front row as she swanned down the runway to Bruce Springsteen's weirdly optimistic cover of Suicide's nihilist anthem "Dream Baby Dream."
In other opulent news: people give Philipp Plein a hard time, because while the political atmosphere has sobered the fashion industry into engaging with questions about consuming less or at least more ethically, Plein stands for a level of epic and conspicuous excess. Last night, he took over the entire Hammerstein Ballroom for a show that started over an hour late. Dita Von Teese splashed around in a giant martini glass while Tiffany Trump and 50 Cent—in a hat that read, "No1 CARES AT ALL"—looked on from the front row. Then Teyana Taylor—star of the most important non-visual-album music video of the last decade—triumphantly crawled and tumbled down the runway as Future performed "Mask Off." Cock your head and think about it as a concert, and it was perhaps the most fun fashion party of the season.