NYFW - Threeasfour's Protection Spells

Having been in New York long enough to remember the pre-meltdown days when Threeasfour was still As Four, I've always had trouble taking the line seriously. The cultish crew in spiral-seamed pants and circle bags has never been my scene.

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Sep 19 2011, 12:00am

Having been in New York long enough to remember the pre-meltdown days when Threeasfour was still As Four, I've always had trouble taking the line seriously. The cultish crew in spiral-seamed pants and circle bags has never been my scene. Maybe I did blow with one too many dude with sparse facial hair, Cuban heels, and a bun during the Lower East Side's Italo disco days. Who knows. Either way it's been a while since the line has been on my mind, but curiosity got the best of me on the final day of NYFW and I sweated it out at St Patrick's Cathedral on Mulberry Street.

The ambiance was somewhat lacking, as nothing quite sets the scene for conceptual high-drama like sweat dripping between your tits in a church gymnasium. The crowd was what I remembered: beautiful, ethnically-ambiguous, sporting top-knots. Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon were there, along with every requisite downtown fashion personality, along with the New York Post.

I snuck in with the photo pool and realized my camera battery was in its charger back at home, so I lied to my editor and said my camera was on the fritz. I shamelessly asked the pros if anyone had an extra camera battery and got smirked at. Hence these photos. I snuck a seat on the bench and took notes, and shortly realized sweat had dampened my skirt. I stood back up to find the presentation program stuck to my ass. A friendly gay laughed at me and said the same thing happened to him. At least there was equality in our discomfort.

The show began about a half hour late, predictably. It was a print-heavy Holy Land showdown, alternating Israeli and Pakistani symbols, conceptually titled "InSHALLOm." The world beat took on Jews and Muslims, and the whole thing felt like if Jodorowsky set El Topo in the Gaza Strip. Once the individual garments are decontextualized, what you're left with are some pretty amazing clothes. After the Urban Outfitterization of the Keffiyeh (that traditional Arabic headscarf), it was nice to see it in a setting where it felt slightly more authentic. The six-pointed stars seemed more kaleidoscopic than Hebrew and I will never not appreciate a ram's horn neckpiece.

So no, the collection was not subtle by any means--it was rich and busy and sometimes bordering on overwhelming. However, the prints and religious symbolism fused so effortlessly that while teetering on the edge of overwrought, they stayed safely positive. Art and fashion often meet with dire results, but here, the discipline was obvious.

There were definitely things I didn't like. At times the concept hit me over the head a little too hard, such as the aggressive evil eye breastplate and sprinkling of hamsas.

Swimwear seemed unnecessary for the collection, but I guess it looked cool.

I'll never be able to get behind what they do with pants.

I didn't need to see another drop-crotch jumpsuit from anyone this season, and the final look, despite the awesome neckpiece, made the model look like a sad West Bank clown.

Part of me has a burning need to point out the things I disliked because honestly I liked the collection to a degree that makes me a little uncomfortable. I mean, I walked in there pretty committed to the idea that this wasn't going to be my thing and I walked out wanting to wear a great deal of it.

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