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The shows took place at the beginning and the end of the world, on Kent Avenue in Brooklyn at Glasslands, a windowless venue that we found to be at fire code capacity early on Friday night. This event began in May 2007, with this particular installment organized by Arthur Arbit (also King Gurvy) and Tom McAlister, with some involvement from Secret Project Robot. The purpose is to showcase up and coming local designers, with emphasis on hand-crafted garments and unique performances, to create a fashionable theater to foster synaesthesia in the viewers.

Friday

A few stood chattering in the wind, a group of straight guys made fiery remarks at three people dressed as ravers, in next to nothing and oblivious to the cold, smoking in the frigid air; others still were lining up behind us. The place was packed (the turnout warranted unfortunate turnaways). It’s a good sign for the Williamsburg designers, we thought, as we repaired to a few other neighborhood parties before the time to return.

An hour later, we were finally in after being greeted at the door by the impeccable publicist Tom McAlister. There were no girls with clipboards at the threshold, but inside, there were plenty of both on and off the stage, gazing at the final walk by the models for the Racecar! line “for helpless boys” by Nettie Tiso. These were similar pieces to those we saw, and briefly noted, in an October show at Secret Project Robot, including hand-embroidered Western men’s shirts with dapper waistcoats.

We missed the opening act, Mandate of Heaven, but judging by the photos from the event, this line is the most tailored to be ready-to-wear and grown up, descriptions which both garner and repel our attraction. The negative aspect of said catch-all phrase comes with the Banana Republic banality of the term. The positive, however, is that it’s a seasoned collection, as shown in its well-done cut of cloth.

Mandate of Heaven had snafus and dressing room issues that had caused a delay of nearly an hour, which played well for late arrivals, and also made significant use of the skills of the talented MC Arthur Arbit, who in his white suit, commandeered the stage as a Lynchian character of a Russian who had stayed behind in Rio De Janiero after the filming of the 1970′s cult classic film, Amphibian Man. Later on, after being told by an assistant to Trisha McBride that the designer needed ten more minutes, he delved into another story while gracefully ensconcing the stage with his rambling walk, (a similar tactic which was often used by the young Marlon Brando to get himself into every corner of a framed shot).

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The last two performances, (for they can’t simply be called fashion shows), blended entirely into the after party. In fact, their theatrical and honest nature served more to highlight the designers as directors rather than body decorators. The culmination for the PapuszaCouture show was a model on stilts.

Stilts! Models are tall! Fashion Week(end)! These shows highlighted both just how much the Oscars sucked. Frankly, this show was based on ideas, the possibility of costume, of dress-up, of masks and the importance of unmasking (“I’m honest about my deceit” may have been an appropriate name for PapuszaCouture’s show). With all its vibrancy and fun, it pointed to the idea that not having to suffer through another day of wearing boring things is a real possibility after all.

Saturday

Saturday was not without its obstacles. One of the designers called and said that the modeling agency through which he’d hired his male models had bailed out at the last moment, saying that “the person who had booked the deal was not authorized to do so.” My first thought was that it was someone trying to make a buck on the side, a noble attempt. While ruminating on this in the dressing room, I found out that the unauthorized person was beside me, as one of the male models, and the story was much more grim. (He’d been laid off from the agency just a week prior and so a reputable deal had to be derailed).

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kinggurvydress_th2A different designer, King Gurvy, also Arthur Arbit, the MC for both nights, had a subplot of a soap opera with a different model. Meanwhile, everyone was naked and awaiting pants, dresses (one caught my eye, a sweet summer 60′s number exposing a navel), hair and make up.

 

King Gurvy was on first with suits ranging from eyecandy/dandy casual to dandy Dandy, as exemplified by models with mohawks, chests left bare, and even an American stunt race car driver; such outlandish things that make one dance and dream of patterns. The designer himself proved to be the most showstopping of models, especially when barefoot and donning his sparkly star-spangled banner suit.

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The next line, SDN by Marcus Hicks, had mod-meets-1940′s traits, a sharp overcoat and beret ensemble that had a medicine satchel-carrying assistant to Dr. Holmes dancing to drum’n'bass on the Left Bank.

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Girls wore high-waisted Hepburn trousers with long flowing legs or long and narrow retro spy girl dresses in sedate, yet classic tones, and cleverly, vests changed bodies for a his and her number. All of it made me crave champagne of any kind, along with sparkling cigarettes.

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The last show of the night was a memorable joint venture between Treehouse Brooklyn’s Sirius and Sodafine, and, oh my! Until there are high-flying trapeze artists on swings, and a slow but sure build up of a moving, all-female instrumental ensemble of models wearing sassy versions of marching band dresses like this, any other fashion party is only practice, a mere prologue.

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Celebration, a Baltimore-based, tribal band that sounds somewhat like a cacophonous, more shamanistic version of Beach House (from the same city), ended the night with their shimmering set. Towards the end, they were joined by Tall Firs, the rocking opening act. Throughout the night, expert dance mixes by the Trilateral Commission DJs kept the crowd bumping and shaking. Meanwhile, I was outside getting tickets for an open container and littering (I couldn’t win the toss up between carrying on a conversation with the officers while holding my beer and chucking it to the side, a tough choice I lost).

Bless the fashion and all of you!

P.S.
Alexander McQueen, good luck with your Target line.

–Tim Nestor/photos by Eileen Murphy and Irvin Kelly

williamsburgfashionweekend.com

 
  1. how do you get in the shows. i saw no designs except for rock shows. anyway post me back later

    [Reply]