I’m not getting any warm, loving Valentine’s Day feelings here. It’s a whopping 9° in New York City this morning, which is up slightly from the 5° when I had my first cup of coffee. New York always tries really, really hard to be romantic on Valentine’s Day, but then you step outside and your face freezes within the first five seconds and then an uptown bus nearly flattens you as you’re trying to cross 45th street. You get to the address on the invitation and are thinking, “Really? This is where they’re having their fashion show?” You see Anne Wintour all huddled up in her fur coat so you assume you’re at the right place. Once inside, though, you’re still not exactly certain. The art is contemporary and unusual, pieces of dirty fabric hanging loosely from the ceiling, gathered pieces of driftwood wrapped with scraps of material.
The art, by Berlinde de Bruyckere, is called “No Life Lost.” The show is Public School. The designers, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, may be moving right on up in the world of fashion, but here, at their home label, they’re keeping things real, gritty, and a bit nostalgic. Maybe nostalgic isn’t the right world. Neither Chow nor Osborne were alive in the 70s and they’re most definitely pulling that vibe. A page from history, perhaps.
If the duo was trying to set a more distinct aesthetic separate from their work at DKNY, then this collection was definitely a success the moment that first bright pink trenchcoat hit the runway. The rest of the collection is so dark that when the pink did make an appearance is was like a slap in the face, which helped one recover from the feeling of frostbite outside. Unlike last season, when the collection seemed a little soft and we wondered if their mainstream work was being a bad influence, this collection is exactly what we expect from Public School: minimalist, large pieces of fabric, loose fitting, extremely urban, and just the right amount of dumpster-behind-the-building aesthetic.
There’s some practicality built in here as well. There are slits in some of the coats and ponchos so one can wear them while riding a bicycle without them bunching up or getting caught in the spokes. Layering is not so random but what one still looks good if you remove a piece or four once you are inside and warm. And while the boots are shown worn unbuckled, which is the preferred street style, one can still buckle those bad boys up when one needs something to plow through the inevitable snow.
Granted, the collection has some geographical and, from a practical perspective, age limitations. Wear this in a rural setting and someone’s going to call you a bum and say you’re sloppy. If you’re my age and trying to wear this collection, you’re likely to be picked up for vagrancy so be sure to keep your credit card receipt handy to show the nice officer. This is not a collection that is meant for everyone, and that’s very much okay. Although I will say if someone were to gift me one of those black sock hats, I’d definitely wear it.
If you’re one of the people who can wear this, though, then you’re likely to love its size, its bulkiness, and its spot-on street cred. No one’s getting soft here. This is genuine Public School, and it rocks. Feel free to fall in love.
photo credit: Aitor Rosas