NYFW: DESIGUAL S/S 2016

Desigual S/S 2016
Desigual S/S 2016

Ick. If you don’t like wandering around in the rain, this hasn’t been a good day to be in New York. While heavy showers have been brief and scattered, almost everyone has gotten wet while waiting in line at one venue or another. Also problematic in the rain is the on-site printed seat tickets that look a bit like a cash register receipt. Once they get wet, the ink tends to run or else make it difficult for the ticket to be scanned. There have been more than a few issues with rain-soaked tickets.

For all the grey and rain outside, though, Desigual was, as usual, bright, sunny, and full of excitement. The Spanish label, whose perpetual theme is “Life is Cool,” always feels as though it’s a bit of a party, and their spring/summer collections tend to be noticeably louder than fall/winter. The design team, which is up to 25 members now, has been teasing bright colors and geometric shapes for a few days no, but anyone familiar with the brand doesn’t find that especially new or different. We wouldn’t know what to think if Desigual didn’t send a healthy dose of bright colors and vivid, contrasting prints down the runway. This is a clothing line that has found success and growth building on diversity and a sense of being inclusive. As a result, they’ve grown substantially while more traditional designers have seen sales fall off.

Most notably different for this season are the accessories and finishing touches. Probably the first thing one notices is that there is a lot of varying head gear, and not a bit of it is traditional. Headphones appear to have fans accordioned across the top of them. Another common look has the accordioned material more like a mohawk starting at the hairline and going back to the crown of the head, secured by a single strap. And then, there are the hats that look rather like towels wrapped around the head, as one tends to do when stepping out of the shower with wet hair. Some of those wrapped-hat looks tended to be rather tall, giving the models a total visual height well over seven feet.

Hair is also a big deal in this rock-and-roll summer look. Cornrow braids are not especially anything new, but what we see in this look is that the braids are loose and messy and of varying size rather than neat and uniform. While not everyone has so adorned, the majority were and it went a long way toward defining the overall looks. Nose rings and different colored nail polish completed a rather alternative look that fits well with the brand’s target shopper.

As for the clothes, layers, contrasting colors, and lightweight fabrics ruled the runway. Silhouettes were predictably loose and flowing, shoes were chunky and often plastic, and it all came together in a giant collision of color. For some, that collaboration didn’t work well. I heard one person comment that the collection looked as though a unicorn had thrown up, and for those of more traditional tastes I can certainly see how they might come to that conclusion. There are contrasting colors everywhere, but that’s been a Desigual trademark since the beginning. If anything, I was surprised by an increased use of black and white, not merely as a separation between colors, but as the primary colors themselves. The presence of something that might be considered a wedding dress was unique for a Desigual show.

Diversity has always been part of the Desigual runway, and this one was no different. Let’s give them a seven out of ten. While the majority of models were still Caucasian, a solid third, maybe a little more, were of various ethnicities with an especially healthy dose of Asian models. Inclusiveness is a big issue at Desigual as well, and one might infer that the company was inferring a same-gender wedding with the last two looks, but they were careful to not make that obvious.

A Desigual show can be tough on the senses. The rock music is pounding. The colors are bright. The pace is fast. Yet, on a grey and wet Thursday afternoon in New York, it was a very warm and welcome relief.

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