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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Capturing the Energy of Hood by Air Hood by Air, With Its ‘Unfiltered’ Hi-Street Faishon Style, Took New York Fashion Week by Surprise

Backstage at the Hood by Air show. Credit Rahav Segev for The New York Times
There were moments, there are always moments. Four hundred poetic soft-sculpture 

clouds were set afloat in the New York State Armory for a cool, masterly Marc Jacobs 


on Thursday. An ostentatiously costly tableau vivant involving complex hydraulics and 

Alpine singers tested the endurance of hundreds who had braved bitter cold to see what 

essentially amounted to the latest news in puffer jackets (Moncler). A disaster movie scene 

played out in an elevator at Oscar de la Ren

ta as a passel of overheated editors stood trapped with André Leon Talley, latter-day 

Shelley Winters, wearinga fur blanket and Uggs.

But these were amusements of an instant, quickly forgotten amid the blur of images and 

commercial expediencies that constitute New York Fashion Week.

What can sometimes seem striking about these twice-yearly circuses is how insular they 

seem, centrally located (well, except for Alexander Wang’s presentation at the Brooklyn 

Navy Yard) and yet culturally remote from life beyond the tents Photo

“Shayne has this energy,” Julie Gilhart, the former fashion director of Barneys New York 

and a fashion consultant, said after last Sunday’s Hood by Air show, held in cavernousPier 

60. “It’s an 

abstract thing for me, a kind of momentum that has everything to do with culture and 

nothing to 

do with business,” Ms. Gilhart added — although Hood by Air clothes have proved 


successful, routinely selling out at influential retailers like Opening Ceremony, Harvey 

Nichols in 

London or Colette in Paris.

“I feel about Hood by Air the same way I felt when I saw an Undercover show for the first 

time, or 

the first time I met the Proenza Schouler boys,” Ms. Gilhart added, referring respectively to 


wizardly Japanese designer Jun Takahashi and the local tyros Lazaro Hernandez and Jack 

McCollough. “There are these people who are picking up on energies that are already out 


whether it be in music or in the street.”

The name Hood by Air itself is a “play off being from the hood, but taking the train 

downtown to 

 hang out with skater boys and artists,” as Mr. Oliver explained last year. And it has been 

too long 

since fashion took proper note of the obvious point that wealth cannot be measured solely 

according to the Gini Coefficient. Or it cannot in New York City, where the greatest wealth 


always be cultural diversity.

“All of this diversity has existed for a while now,” Jacky Tang, retail director of Opening 


said by telephone after the Hood by Air show. He was referring to a presentation cast with a 

group  that included people of virtually every ethnic and gender stripe: professional male models, 

transgender performers, “children” from the ballroom community and a passel of 


women — perhaps lesbian, perhaps not — who identify as “studs.” “What Shayne has 

done is to 

make the scene really artistic and visual and beautiful and, like, unfiltered,” Mr. Tang said.

He has staked out a cultural space in which rappers like ASAP Rocky can pose 


alongside the designer Mr. Oliver wearing lipstick and dressed in a skirt, one in which the 


fashion press corps will crowd down to the cold Hudson on a Sunday morning to watch a 


of models wearing leather-laced jackets reminiscent of things by the late Halston protégé 


Breslau; or shiny white knee boots with Fra

nkenstein lug soles; or Zabriskie Point leathers; or 

hairstyles whose inspiration, said one Bumble and Bumble hairdresser, was “Robo-Cher”; 


finally, a group of dancers from ballroom groups like the House of Mizrahi, performing 10 


of the exhilarating vogueing dance moves that normally can be seen only at 4 in the m

orning at 

dives in Crown Heights or the Bronx.

“In recent years, New York has lost a lot of its authenticity,” Mr. Tang added. “There are 


experiences that you just can’t see and can’t feel on the Internet. It’s great that we have the 

Internet, but the experience you get at a Hood by Air show, there’s, like, totally no way to 

experience that completely without being here.”

The designer Shayne Oliver, who founded the label with Raul Lopez. Credit Monica 

Schipper/Getty Images

A version of this article appears in print on February 16, 2014, on page ST15 of the New York edition with the headline: Capturing the Energy of Hood by Air. Order Reprints|Today's Paper|Subscribe 

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