Is there room for showmanship in fashion in 2014? There’s Meadham Kirchhoff, London’s divinely imaginative, reality unconcerned lace-detailing dreamers–who conjured up a TopShop collab this past year. Threeasfour, the art-scene mingling New York design trio who went so far as to make clothes out of bread– to be torn apart by viewers at The Jewish Museum this past fall. They have the downtown art set by their fingers, if not the market. And then there’s Thom Browne –the man behind some of fashion’s most delightfully twisted post-runway performances (remember when he presented his collection by way of nuns being undressed by male priests in the New York Public Library? Or last season’s very slow starting institutionalized horror-where Browne had the audience sit still to a screeching buzz for 40 minutes before sending out a line of Elizabethan, silk-draped lunatics?). According to Browne, the answer to the key question is yes. You just have to start with the commercial.
“Fashion is a business,” he told BOF earlier this week. “As conceptual as you want to be, you do have to make sure that you approach it as a business. There has to be a commercial element to what you do.”
For him, this means stocking as many shrunken suits as possible at Brooks Brothers. He has his fun on the runway, and follows through with something charmingly (marketably) practical.
He’s not the only one.
Here are our favorite young designers who are mixing theatrics with some very clever basics–the ones who are catching our attention–and giving us what we really need:
Theatrical moment: For her S/S 14 collection, the Korean/Canadian CSM grad took viewers to the stone basement of King’s College, where models danced to childlike choreography directed by filmmaker Zeina Durra. The models shifted – in stripe-based, column dresses and Grecian gowns—to the sound of Lynchian-styled lullabies, while editors sunk into a surreal, near-haunted mood.
Takeaway piece: A striking, graphic checkerboard paneled ode to the piano. Sounds strange – but is very much wearable (not to mention beautifully constructed).
Theatrical moment: The recent Central Saint Martins grad takes a note from McQueen’s impassioned performance/art page—her most recent collection paired minimalist nude and blood red, tulle and delicately knotted, draped dresses amidst a “dystopian post-apocalyptic” installation of hanging cured ham legs, volcanic ash and hundreds of wine bottles.
Takeaway piece: S/S 14 Black tulle & macrame mini skirts. Sculptural, just the right balance of sweet & hard-edged. Ready for Dover St.
Theatrical moment: The British design duo put on their first runway show in London last September—complete with a thunderstorm soundtrack and models parading in poplin and water resistant cotton white shirts. The girls made their way through a catwalk framed by steel rods.
Takeaway piece: the smartest white shirt around.