Photos by Alyssa Kazew
I’ve experienced Williamsburg Fashion Weekend since its inaugural unveiling in the ‘hood in 2006, and with the event now in its tenth season and back at Glasslands Gallery, the shows have become longer and more involved. Added lines are a plus, but when some are given the green light to take the stage for 40 minutes, I have to put my jaded, aching, yet fashionably-shod foot down. Haven’t these upcoming designers been on the other side, knowing any show is at its best when fans are left clamoring for more? Even when it’s your favorite band, if they play too long, it gets repetitive. But that’s just what makes Williamsburg Fashion Weekend so imperfectly perfect; nothing is meant to be polished to the point of becoming too precise, or, worse yet, bland.
As always, there were plenty of standouts, such as Nathalie Kraynina, on Saturday night, who showed an elegant, no-shtick collection, with pieces that were definitely RTW, but presented in a modern-meets-50s, future dream of lunching ladies that Kraynina envisioned as a cross between Chanel and the Stones.
Hair was done up in high, shiny French twists and one model had delicate black lace fused diagonally over her face. Curves were a plenty, and skirts, some in herringbone tweed, off-set the bold top colors and block jackets, with a few worn over a crinoline. It was film noir done with a new wave, haute Willy Wonka vibe.
It wouldn’t be the exotic, über-talented artist, host and creator Arthur Arbit’s free-flowing fashion event if not seen without an overdose (or let’s call it a big, John Waters rosy lens) of straight up voguing, awkward pauses, elongated poses and killer, theatrical performances.
It’s the often extreme, beautifully absurd elements that has always made WFW standout from the typical, tame New York Fashion Week; It’s indie, it’s DIY, and it’s a cry-to-arms spectacle against the norm, or at least, against the strict catwalks of Capitalist normalcy.
John Waters specifically came to mind with Marco Santaniello’s anarchic, high camp presentation, featuring a showstopping pink-and-blue haired lady with messy lips, hot pink lashes, and a shiny, cartoony blue jumpsuit. She was like an angry, more petite (and female) Divine, doing her Sex Pistols-best hisses and growls at the audience amidst the younger models photographing each other on stage, donning Panda black eye makeup and oversized neon t’s bearing phrases like “You are too” with “High” strewn on bottoms.
Other slogans like “Fashion Weak”, paired with “New York” drop crotch pants, thumbed their nose at the Lincoln Center set.
Many were visibly mesmerized by the electronic beats and the sinewy models donning severe, house-shaped white headpieces as big as a mini fridge (see top photo), and paired with odd white triangle mitts. Or, it was the fur pelts, taxidermied fox helmuts and bodies painted with ermine spots, all mixed with twigs in hair or cardboard bird wings. This collection left an indelible mark on the night by stirring up a ritualistic, art brutastic rave.