Today is day three of the Spring/Summer 2014 Season collections, which in shorthand is Fashion Week. Tenth Avenue and West 62nd Street are lined with huge generators, semis, temporary ramps, road blocks and black clad dudes talking into their shirt collars. The NYPD has some of its own helping out with maintaining security from West 66th Street down to West 62nd Street, and the plaza in front of the David H. Koch theater, home to New York City Ballet, is a daily catwalk of fabulous trendsetters from the international fashion community. The most stylish visitors to the huge tents, temporarily set up for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, will have to step and repeat for the small army of professional and amateur photographers and bloggers who hang around every day to document the scene.
Fashion week in New York City has grown exponentially since the days when the tents would pop up at Bryant Park, in the back yard of The New York Public Library. With just four venues at the MBFW tents, it is logical that many designers will take advantage of the multitude of sleek venues Manhattan has to offer off-site. Charles Harbison showed his SS14 line at the hot new pop-up, Malt n Mash, in the city's trendy Meatpacking district on Wednesday, September 4th. The presentation started at 9:30 am, pretty much one of the first for the day that is considered Day 0 in the industry, as the "official" first day is September 5th. The eclectic room in the historical building was soon completely full of guests who were more than happy to indulge in giant chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies and sip from flutes of sparkling Magnifico wine infused with Lavender Honey, Grapefruit, and Ginger Peach.
Included by The New York Times' Eric Wilson as one of the 5 new designer stars at New York Fashion Week this past Wednesday, Harbison is also featured in this month's grand fashion tome, the September issue of Vogue. The designer is posed with model Soo Joo Park, who wears the color blocked overcoat from his debut Fall/Winter 2014 collection. Harbison has been featured on more than one list of hot new designers to watch, and the former Michael Kors and Luca Luca designer is a favorite of editors and fashion bloggers and his trajectory to stardom seems inevitable. His new collection is a confident evolution from the debut line, with voluminous trousers, crop tops, plaid linen blend coats and silk crepe tunic dresses that show a strong command of color and pattern.
As the press and fashion fans crowded the floor in front of podium mounted models, Harbison's mother, aunt, brother and best friend since his childhood in North Carolina gathered at the bar to chat about the rise of the precociously organized kid who always had an eye for order. "I remember perfect lines of Matchbox cars, all in perfect order and patterns running along the floors of the house." said his mother, Dana Linebarger. "I used to shake my head in wonder at what a perfectionist he was, and how he always had to have everything just so." she remembers about the kid family and friends called Charlie. Andrea Whitener, Harbison's best friend since their middle school days recalls how he would stage fashion shows on the campus of his college, and enlist friends and other students to wear his designs. "I always knew Charlie was going to do something big with his life." Whitener said. "He always stood out with his own unique style. Always."
Harbison's SS14 collection was inspired by a melange of influences, with names like "Island Minimalism", "Colonial Sunset", "Diaspora Prep" and "Blue Immaterialism". The four main inspirations cited were "Prep", "African Diaspora", "Yves Klein" (the bolts of blue) and "Aaliyah", for the Nineties pop star who tragically died in an airplane crash in the Bahamas in 2001. It will be exciting to see what Charles Harbison comes up with for next Fashion Week, just five months away in February.