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  • Writer's pictureSavannah Bradley

Ego Death at Mirror Palais

New York Fashion Week begins with a Trojan Horse.


CRIPPLING FEAR, NORMALIZED ANXIETY, LEANING ON THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE, PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER, PULLING THEM APART, GOING OVER BUDGET, WORKING UNTIL THE SUN GOES DOWN…THIS MUST BE THE PLACE. GLAMOUR BRINGS HOPE. That’s how Mirror Palais mastermind Marcelo Gaia introduced Collection V — an attempt to strip back artifice and get to the thing so many Creative Directors have torn themselves apart trying to chase: the real.

Such is the strength of Gaia’s craftsmanship that any wisp of doubt is out the door before the show even starts. Ivy and roses buttress ivory columns; dirty chandeliers sit between the models and the guests. It seems as if Gaia is attempting to address the thing that gave the brand virality in the first place — critics chalked up the brand up as being nothing more than pretty dresses, smoke and mirrors, made to look good for Instagram but not for real life. Gaia’s experiential design is deftly arranged: the smoke is gone, and real life has arrived.

First is a Gaultier-inspired ribbed gown with cross-stitched slits — the boudoir textures associated with the brand still very much in play. Then, influencer contra Poster Girl frontwoman Cindy Kimberly in Gaia’s version of a wedding gown: a Gilded Age train, striped fabric ripped straight from the Plaza Hotel. And a sheer halter dress, buttery cream— maybe a chiffon, maybe a gauze, it’s hard to tell in the candlelight — with ruffles at the neck and sand dunes at the floor.

But then, yes, doubt comes back: it’s hard to tell if any of this is supposed to be real life. These dresses are beautiful — but any sermon about fear, anxiety, or vulnerability simply isn’t there. One of my favorite looks, an Amadeus-esque hat with a low-hem skirt may be an allegory about power. But that is the thing, isn’t it? It may be. No hard lines are established here.

There are moments where Gaia approximates transparency, slogging off the pretty dress veneer: a slip of black cloth across the breast. A completely sheer polka-dot gown, save for a thong. And one of the most gorgeous pieces I’ve seen all season, though it is only day one: a

Grecian A-line with an attached headscarf, the ghost of Grace Kelly floating down the runway.

These pieces suggest a more thoughtful pathos behind the collection, and you wonder if Gaia is testing the waters. You start with a Trojan Horsing of contrivance — an influencer cameo, self-referential to a previous bridal look, a dress that could’ve belonged in any of Mirror Palais’ prior collections — and then you bring out the new. In an era when Creative Directors get addicted to social media virality, and influencers struggle with accepting brand transformation, perhaps Gaia knows precisely how to usher in a new era. This must be the place for it, indeed. 🗝


This article is being actively updated. All photo credit goes to the original owners.


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