NYC is a cold place to live, eve when there’s no Polar Vortex. Manufacture New York’s ‘Launch NYC’ creates a little pool of warmth for up and coming designers to incubate in. In their own words, Manufacture New York’s mission is to “reawaken and rebuild America’s fashion industry.” Located at 55 West 17th Street, Manufacture NY (in collaboration with Adorama and other sponsors) turned an empty building into retail, and runway space on the first floor (with complimentary coffee station run by Filicori Zechini USA). Upstairs was a massive hair and makeup/model lounge area, a fully set up photo area, meeting rooms, and press lounge. The only thing missing was food, but this is fashion; an industry that prides itself on missing meals.
After perusing tables of accessories from Crystalyn Kae accessories, and racks of clothes from new designers like Carrie Hamer and Bow & Drape, I went out runway area and found a gift back stuffed with Eva NYC hair samples, Duna Iced Tea, and Adorama ceramic mugs with balsa wood cup holders. The minimalist industrial space rocked with tunes played by DJ Keith Shocklee, and the chairs quickly filled with bloggers like Nathan Moy of The Provoker, Glasgow Skinner of My Life on and Off the Guest List, Melissa Davis of Fat Apple NYC. Jo Lancer of Mexico’s Next Top Model floated about posing for photos and speaking eloquently about the nature of beauty. There was a warm vibe of happy anticipation.
Abacaxi: The lights dimmed and the music went up and Abacaxi’s designs hit the white plexiglass runway. Designer Sheena Sood, who spent time studying textiles at Central St. Martin’s, presented a wide range of ideas meant to evoke a certain global embrace, but was a tad too far ranging. I preferred the hooded short-sleeved jacket that featured glimmering Klimt-ian striped gold and copper cloth bound to a more prosaic wool top. It’s a hybrid piece that neat encapsulates east/west and evokes the idea of a tweedy Englishwoman who’s spent time in Bali. I would have liked to see her collection edited down to focus on this main idea. Subsequent pieces, like the copper leather flare skirt and the genius chevron printed maxi dress continue to explore a stripping down to the chakra type of attitude.
Vaunt & Sol: Monica Canilao’s Vaunt & Sol creates a lane and sticks to it. Here is an established color palette of rust, teal, maroon, and white and t creates a feeling of cohesive thought throughout the collection. Standouts are the drip painted harem pant, that could be taken out of context and paired with a big black sweater, and the lovely white + rust gown that came with and washed silk and wool tencel cocoon cape. Perfect for the opera. The pieces look easy to wear, very much about the girls who intern at fashion companies and work at galleries. A cool, culturally aware customer, who moves through life with calm assurance. It’s casual, sustainable luxury for creative city dwellers.
Heart and Noble: This collection almost got away from me. I was focusing on the long, unisex gowns that looked so elegant, but were all the same. Then I realized that what was changing was the jewelry. At which point- I got it. Designer Cristina Gabriele has formed a jewelry brand that forces you to re-examine your ideas. You have to shift focus, and focus. The 10 laser cut, acrylic cable tie pieces vary from collars that echo smocked/embroidered peasant blouses (cobalt), mini-ponchos (egg yolk), military epaulets (coal), and a piece called chalk that reminds me of table runners but in a nice- ‘I could playfully put this on with a jacket and long full skirt and amaze people today’ way.
After the 2pm ready-to-wear collections, I hung around waiting for the 6pm demi-couture. There was already a buzz that it was going to be a lively affair, so I chose to stay right where I was instead of venturing out for food. I got a smooth and tasty cappucino from the Filicori Zechini stand in the lobby and went up to the press lounge.
Makeup artists from Elizabeth Cook Makeup chatted with models waiting for the next shows. Walking through this area was like every fashion girl’s dream.
Waiting in the lounge, I met blogger Amy Vosejpka of Not Official who is hilarious. I saw my old modaYCLE boss Charles Beckwith, who happened to be producing the event along with Staley Cook, Kathryn Fogo, and Lisa-Maria Radano. The 8 day Launch Fashion Week is a way to bring Manufacture NY designers to the media, in a building that encompasses runway and retail space. The goal is to make local manufacturing ‘…the most affordable, innovative, and sustainable option…’. A worthy and attainable goal.
Minnoji: The show opened with a bang. Minnoji sent a sort of punk Greco-Roman army down the runway, with headbands that were inspired by ancient Greek soldiers. Shiny faux-leather leggings and 90s style thick lug soled shoes reinforced a military feel. The Bulgarian designer Milena Encheva is dedicated to creating ‘detail oriented, long lasting clothing at affordable prices’. Neoprene jackets create a look of cut sheepskin, and an architectural skirt with black faux leather shell top is classic with punk edge. Having trained with Calvin Klein, among other designers, Encheva is an expert with a clean line. Her studies at FIT strengthened her abilities, and Minnoji is a knockout collection that can work for a range of female tastes.
Modu: Modu is like a brand new Jil Sander. The simplicity and straightforwardness, but subtle twists keep it from being boring or commonplace. The superga clad models exude a quiet confidence born of good tailoring and easy elegance. The charcoal crop top rides easily over a pair of skinny navy pants. An ‘extended belt panel’ elevates a pencil skirt to high art, and it could go as easily with a buttoned silk blouse as with the crop top it was paired with. The outerwear soars with a clean-lined overcoat featuring stand up collar, a definite investment. The shearling collared parka creates a luxurious oxymoron- parkas are never this cute. The full skirt it’s shown with is another must have. You could buy it for aw2014 and still be rocking it with flats or heels for spring. Yuteng Mo and Shichao Du’s combined efforts have created a line of priceless go-anywhere separates
Mimi New York: This exquisite line made me want to cry with joy. Sheerly, ridiculously beautiful. It’s the melding of Stevie Nicks and Miss Havisham, White Witch meets the Eternal Dickensian spinster. It’s pretty for pretty’s sake, and no apologies. Mimi Prober, founder and designer of Mimi New York, has created a collection perfect for 70s Led Zeppelin groupies. The ethereal, lace over lace with nearly random seeming additions of jet bead fringe or corset style ribbon lacing reminds one of tatty thrift store finds layered for strength. The line notes speak in centuries: 19th century ivory lace, 18th century flora embroidery, and 20th century signature chain stitch embroidery. Layers of history to create layers of beauty. The models teetered on embellished platform heels by Zack Lo, adding the bacchanalian nymph aesthetic.
*all images shot by Faith Bowman with the Fujifilm HS50EXR