Island girls: AnOnlyChild, Victor Glemaud and Prabal Gurung
Manhattan is an island, but it's not the islands. Fortunately for wintertime, frostbitten New Yorkers, those tropical nations are only a three- or four-hour jaunt away. As is the magic of the Big Apple, the richness of the Caribbean culture is omnipresent here and also coming to the fore in fashion. On Saturday, two designers, Maxwell Osborne of AnOnlyChild and Victor Glemaud, further proved its artistic and fashion influence.
Maxwell Osborne earned the moniker disruptor at Public School with Dao-Yi. Some habits never die. For his solo effort collection, AnOnlyChild, Osborne has taken a unique approach to brand messaging, which could almost amount to 'slow marketing'. On Saturday, the designer unveiled to an audience of press, buyers, friends and fans, his new venture. The first collection that was quietly debuted last September in a private show among family and friends at his family’s home in Mount Vernon, New York. A campaign that released in February and sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue was a precursor to the Spring 2023 show with various themes carrying over.
In a nod to that first highly intimate show, the runway perimeter was dotted with retro vignettes, staffed by models in a variety of household settings. It was Osborne’s way of bringing the home party to his guests.
“At my family’s house last year, there were no pictures allowed. So, when we were thinking about staging the show, we thought, how can we bring that house party feeling back? To have people chilling and lounging about where everyone lives in the same house, no matter what your age. You eat together, party together, and have a good time," explained Osborne.
Osborne told FashionNetwork.com post-show that the concept and philosophy have a lot to do with family (though Osborne is not an only child) and upcycling.
“When you dig up old photos of your family, you can see that my family from Jamaica was influenced by it being colonized. There is a dress-up culture my family wore uniforms to school even if they couldn’t afford shoes; you see in the those pictures the uniform was pressed, cleaned, and starched. There was a joyfulness and playfulness to it,” said Osborne, noting that his family dispersed to London and New York.
The designer revamped his signature short-sleeve tailored suit reminiscent of said uniform but gave it a forties flare. He often added pleated skirts for girls and trousers for the guys, but adds a touch or romance with a puffed mutton-style short sleeve.
Osborne explored more than a school uniform. He favored jewel-tone satins delivered as draped, ruched, and tiered-skirt ensembles that evoked colonial-era dressing served up in a modern design; his men had swagger in Zoot suit-inspired looks with a touch of street, with oversized bombers with the gathered seam effect. To honor his West Indian heritage, Osborne created a print in the traditional red, yellow, and green that recalled the typical mesh worn in the island country.
The majority of Osborne’s collection, which is manufactured entirely in New York, is culled from dead stocks found in sample rooms, distributors, or donated by fellow designers who know more than most the amount of waste associated with garment making. That said, his MO is to “make something from nothing.”
Another Caribbean Island inspired Haitian-born Victor Glemaud, in this case, Harbour Island in the Bahamas. But that was only part of the story. The show covered a lot of bases for the designer; a place to show where the public can view, a venue to show his own professional and creative partnerships, and the results of an informative trip into the Fashion Institute of Technology archives to explore the work of Bill Blass, Giorgio Sant’Angelo, Stephen Burrows and Geoffrey Beene.
The former was courtesy of Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace (roller skating became New York’s latest summertime activity in 2022) housed in Rockefeller Center’s ice rink from which onlookers from the place above can take in the festivity.
"This idea of being outside showing in public is what we have been doing since the last season Moynihan Station for instance. It’s what I do, like I have people over at home; I just wanted to bring that forward in these shows,” Glemaud said backstage post-show.
It was the result of a serendipitous meeting Glemaud, already considering the iconic Rockefeller Center, happened to be introduced to Liberty Ross, who approached him about showing at the space “I said yes, exclamation point,” the designer recalled.
The rink and the roller dancers that opened and closed the show demonstrated, along with models, the comfort and mobility Gremaud’s designs offer.
“It showed people the versatility of what we do all year round. It was also fun!” he said.
The island getaway was recalled in a tropical pink shade fashioned as skimpy body-con, yet highly sophisticated pieces. Case in point were a halter dress, catsuits, briefs, and bustier, often paired with a cape à la Mr. Beene. A new sheer silk crochet rib knit in barely-there styles and cotton and cashmere yarns were incorporated into knitwear.
“I was inspired by Harbor Island; the colors, the cutouts ,and the textures,” he said, adding “it’s what you want to wear to the beach. When summer comes along, the shorts are shorter, the legs come out, and I want to show skin. It’s me putting myself in the collection with things that I like and being comfortable with that,” he said.
The show was also a chance for all the creative partnerships the designer has forged, which often combine business and creativity. The runway was a replica of a Schumacher pattern, available in the yellow, pink, and blue version; the sunglasses part of his The Glemaud X Tura collaboration; hats by friend Gigi Burris; a tote bag by Vereda’s Evan O’Hara; shoes by Jimmy Choo and anklets by David Yurman.
“Spring allows one to exhale and brings joy. I want every look, every element of this collection and show to bring a smile to your face,” he offered in a release.
Born in Singapore to Nepalese parents, Prabal Gurung represents a far-flung island in the Malay archipelago. His collections have always pulled together the aesthetics and bright and vibrant colors and textures from the region. The Spring 2023 collection was no different in that sense though in this case, Gurung was referencing rich beauty from another culture, the highly individual crowd found at a club in the wee hours of the night.
“It was a lot of street casting; these are people I found when I went out to the raves in Brooklyn,” Gurung told FashionNetwork.com. “We live in a complicated, complex time; just being joyful and hopeful is no longer enough. We need to be alert; we need to be vigilant. I saw that celebratory vigilance and defiance in all these kids there.”
The designer was jubilantly greeting his well-wishing fan base backstage, which includes mega-watt OG influencers Bryan Grey Yambao, Tina Craig, and Tina Leung.
The location, a vast painted white raw office space on the third floor of 866 United Nations Plaza, set the stage for the talent and clothes to command all the attention. The atrium-style floor plan and square runway flanked by windows on all sides also allowed voyeuristic staging.
“My narrative has always been about different beauties, other odd beauties, and their celebration. I thought, what better place than to be next to the United Nations for this idea and vision of what the world could look like with odd beauties that are often scrutinized and monitored, but never seen? So, it was a celebration of that,” he continued.
In a way, odd beauties were an apt description of the mainly cocktail and eveningwear-centric collection, including tailored evening suits, which were a mash-up of textures, layers, and froth. For example, second-skin latex was paired with floral chiffon and richly layered embroideries; or pony skin was mixed with crinkled cotton nylon.
“Isn’t that how it should be? The idea of things that don’t belong together? Like putting acid wash jeans and couture roses and that stuff. I wanted to create something that perhaps may not belong in the scenario and bring it all together,” he explained of the juxtaposed elements. At times the combos and executions veered in a less masterful direction than Gurung has been known for.
As the models completed their final walk, they lined up on the empty side of the atrium and turned to face the crowd, while a strobe light flashed to the cover version of 'Creep' by Radiohead. A dramatic nightclub-worthy staging was fun to watch but raised the question of whether the artifice of nightlife influenced the designer’s vision a bit too much.
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