Hood By Air S/S17
Hood By Air Spring/Summer 2017. Photo credit: Yannis Vlamos

This is one of those very rare occasions where I’m at a loss for words. It’s not that I can’t describe the Hood By Air spring/summer collection, but I’m not sure how to describe it without using a vulgar vocabulary. Let’s try by starting here: The show was sponsored by the world’s largest porn website. There was a very obvious justification for that sponsorship.

Can I just stop there, show you some pictures and go home? No? Okay,but I’m going to put cellophane over my keyboard for protection.

Hood By Air’s designer, Shayne Oliver, doesn’t do normal in the way the rest of the world does normal. Remember, this is the same person who sent his models down the runway wearing women’s pantyhose over their faces just a couple of seasons ago. Oliver considers part of his responsibility to shock and surprise his audience. He takes that responsibility seriously and fulfills it very well. We watch his shows expecting to be overwhelmed by something.

So, when this afternoon’s program was a very strange mockup of a fake book cover in the style of the Babysitters Club series, maybe we should have had a clue. When we saw the sponsorship notification at the bottom of the program, maybe we should have wiped our seats with disinfectant before sitting down.

From a practical side, what’s wearable from this collection are low-riding skater pants with wide straps, jackets that look like boxer’s robes, deconstructed suits and white button-down shirts, and some branded shirts. This will be the part of the collection you’ll see in stores. There are zippers everywhere and there’s really no wrong way to wear any of it. Some shirts were backward, I think, and pants were often  twisted off center. There were a lot of styling tricks that won’t necessarily be obvious when the clothes are sold in stores.

No one present today, however, from Whoopie Goldberg to Rick Ross, was interested in the practical side. This crowd wanted a spectacle and that is exactly  what they got. Shirt/tie combinations were worn while still in the cellophane wrapping. Shirts with deconstructed sleeves contained the warning: not suitable for children. One top seemed to be  part straight-jacket—with ruffles. Another outfit was a blue transparent garment bag with sleeves. One woman was topless. Two models were dragging their gym bags behind them on a long leash. One pair of shoes was strapped together at the ankles.

The most curious elements were the shoes and the hair. The shoes were boots that went both directions which forced models to walk in a strange side-to-side shuffle. The hair was plastered with extremely heavy amounts of vaseline so as to suggest a very specific post-coital condition common to a certain kind of porn films. That’s about as descriptive as I can get without invoking censors. It was not a hairstyle I expect to see mimicked.

The audience loved every minute and delighted in taking cell phone pictures and cheering on the models. They were so worked up, in fact, that they didn’t even notice when Shayne Oliver himself snuck into the  back of the finale walk, turning around to take a well-deserved bow only shortly before disappearing off stage.

While shows like this might seem adolescent and silly to some, they represent some of the most creative minds in fashion. What you’ll find on Hood By Air shelves next spring will be impressive and wearable. You’ll look at the brand, though, because you remember the craziness of this show.

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