Thursday, 17 September 2015


It's a Girls' Party

Designer: Erin Fetherston
San Francisco, California
Graduate of Parsons the New School for Design

     There isn't anything quite as captivating as a performance art piece, which is exactly what I view a runway show to be.  It's a performance, and it's art, in so many different ways that poke and prod at all the senses.  Think of it broken down like this:
     You've got the venue; a deliberate selection based on architecture and spatial art
     You've got the clothing; a deliberate curation of fashion design
     You've got the interior atmosphere; a deliberate organization of furniture and props
     You've got the hair and makeup; all deliberate actions to express a particular aesthetic
     You've got the music; chosen and sequenced to create a tone
     and you've got the models, who walk, pose, and gesture in a manner indicative of said tone.
     All facets of a runway show, separate and pieced together, qualify as art; it is not simply the outfit on the model that determines the success of a show.  Every detail matters, which is why Erin Fetherston's eponymous label pulled off such a successful showing at New York Fashion Week S/S 2016.
     In one phrase, contemporary rétrograde.  To translate that into lamen terms, let me paint an image for you...imagine this:

You're nine years old again and life is carefree.
It's 1979.
You've just bicycled home from school with your friend, Sue-Ellen, and you drop your school bag at the front door before running into the kitchen.
Mother's in the kitchen, wearing a pastel mid-length dress that matches the wallpaper.  The appliances are pastel too.
She's baking; pies it looks like.  But she looks over her shoulder and smiles at you when she hears the metal chair scratching along the linoleum.
Wiping flour-dusted hands on her apron, Mother plucks an LP out of the wooden rack on top of the refrigerator and places it on record player.  It begins to scratch away; some women chirping about their no good husbands who they're better off without anyway.
You're sitting at the kitchen table in a pleasureful daze, until Mother sweeps you up into the flower power folds of her dress and you both fly dancing around the room.

     That is Erin Fetherston S/S '16, which I've appointed the unofficial title, "It's a Girls' Party" because of its vivacious femininity; equal parts the fragile lady and the bold woman, the retro and the contemporary.  

     Erin Fetherston designs have always been known as feminine, romantic, and whimsical, but this collection is not merely an update version of what's been seen before.  There is a stark contrast between last year's S/S and what we're seeing this year in particular.  Where S/S 2015 was rooted in blacks and whites as bases for pattern, S/S 2016 wholly embodies colour and pattern - floral print specifically - as the essence of the collection.

     Besides the more vibrant hues presented, Fetherston contributes to the light and airy mood by incorporating perforated, translucent, and lace fabrics into her textile portfolio.  Again, maintaining romantic femininity through fine floral detailing.

     What a print publication will show you are the hair scarves, the knee-length hems, and the dainty necklines.  Anybody with eyes can just see the retro oozing from the catwalk.  However, what print doesn't convey are the pieces of the show that do not transcend the paper or the computer screen.  In other words,

  • the music - reminiscent of The Supremes; something that makes you want to go out and buy an old karaoke machine.  
  • the tempo - fast-paced music matched by fast-paced models, strutting with speed and bopping to the tunes (ironically serious faces intact).

     If you haven't watched the show in full, NYFW Live is hosting a replay link here.  It's about 10 minutes start to finish and if you're remotely creative in any sense, there's something in there for you to appreciate.  

     Although Erin Fetherston is a relative rookie, having only been on the scene for the past decade - since the 2005 Paris Haute Couture shows - she's quippy with her interpretations of modern and historic style.  What was once blassé and passé, Erin Fetherston has reimagined into the contemporary chic woman.

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