Sunday in New York Fashion Week was all about two indie designers, Piotrek Panszczyk of Area and Ludovic de St Sernin, a Frenchman declaring his love for the liberating air of the Big Apple, in a linkup with the estate of Robert Mapplethorpe.
Area: From Amazon to surrealism
Area is a New York couture brand that – surprise, surprise – has found a home in Luxury Stores at Amazon, the principal sponsor of its latest show.
Presented Sunday afternoon on the top floor of a giant red brick building on the Hudson River, Area’s fashion is definitely couture given its rabid experimentation, bizarre fabrics and outrageous cutting.
What’s great about the brand is that founder and creative director Piotrek Panszczyk has developed a highly identifiable signature style.
This season, Piotrek riffed on a central leitmotif, the eye. Playing with cartoon imagery with dropped corneas and oversized pupils; or surrealism assemblages that would have amused Man Ray.
All incorporated into tentacle-like tops, kicky bras, and seaweed style cocktails – all in black and white.
Before using the eye studs in grommets holding together technical lace and leather. All leading to great dalmatian print gowns, cloaks and widely ruffled cocktails oversewn with black buttons.
Though mingled in with the drama were a series of slimline columns, natty T-shirts, taut micro boleros and cool blue denim jeans and hotpants – finished with Area’s signature crystal beading and belts.
“New perspectives – viewed being viewed. We have been in business for 10 years and crystal was such a pivotal moment for us in growing. But I also think I wanted to show people that Area is about a lot of other things – silhouette, wittiness and new fabric development,” he insisted.
Everything anchored by another great partnership, Carnaby Street-style platforms with cartoon petals courtesy of Italian shoe master Giuseppe Zanotti, who sat front row on the 18th floor of the Starrett Lehigh building.
“Showing we can be light and airy. But this was also about saying that we can do more than a super complicated couture dress. Sometimes just wearing one thing evokes as much desirability,” he added.
Thanks to the Amazon linkup, the collection will be available online, potentially taking Area from a cult Big Apple marque to a global brand.
Ludovic de Saint Sernin: Mapplethorpe mode
This season at Ludovic de St Sernin was directly focused on the art and photography of Robert Mapplethorpe.
The husband of Patti Smith, Mapplethorpe was one of the greatest of all photographers noted for the manner he could suggest human attributes in flowers and vegetables he photographed. And whose photographic diary of creatives and beauties in the New York of four decades ago revolutionized photography, and ideas about sexual freedom.
In this collection, Ludovic was completely in synch with that world view. De Saint Sernin partnered with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to incorporated images of his flowers and fauna onto techy organza tops and serious sexy semi-transparent cocktails.
He paired the gauzy and suggestive tops with pencil pants and skirts. Several of his gal models were in bra and pants topped with transparent skirts with tulip overlays. All were electrifyingly sexy.
Like Robert, Ludovic likes to venture over into the dark side – climaxing his show with black leather bondage looks for men. The sort that would win a round of applause if worn inside leather bars like Ramrod in the West Village.
Mapplethorpe would very likely have approved.
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