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  • Writer's pictureSavannah Bradley

New York, Where Are You?

Luar FW24 asks us to move on.

 


GET NOSTALGIC ABOUT FASHION’S NIGHT OUT. Claim that New York Fashion Week is dead. Argue with a wall. Repeat ad infinitum. The criticism of New York Fashion Week as an institution is not without reason, given how the event is beset by scheduling difficulties and an unequal playing field for emerging designers. But the coroners’ calls often have nothing to do with either of those things, and instead focus on what New York doesn’t have in comparison to London or Paris: big names, bigger parties, bigger moments (whatever that means). These criticisms are the blatherings of people who care more about getting the invite than they do about the actual clothes. One of my favorite people, Rian Phin, put it plainly:



It is safe to say that Raul Lopez is not an emerging designer anymore and is simply a designer, given that he was named the CFDA’s 2022 Accessory Designer of the Year — and has had an (almost) pitch-perfect streak of seasons. But it is notable that Beyoncé showed up to the Luar FW24 show in particular, rather than saving her energy for Balenciaga or Balmain. Giving an independent designer a boost simply by being there (Google searches for “Luar” skyrocketed after she was spotted) is one of the most low-effort, high-reward things a celebrity can do, and can shine a light on collections that would otherwise go undetected. The NYFW critics got quiet after that.


Speaking of light: nobody had any. The former factory used to show the collection was poorly lit, and fashion critics like Cathy Horyn couldn’t make out the models in the dark. Meanwhile, Beyoncé shone brightly in the front row, aglow in iPhone flash. Who has access — and who ordains that access — will always be a fuzzy industry-wide problem, and it is always, too, difficult when celebrities take focus away from the clothing. 



The clothing, by the way, is divine. The Luar FW24 collection, entitled “Deceptionista,” focuses on the advent and metamorphosis of the metrosexual. “There are different generations of the metrosexual, and now we are in the era of the stray,” Lopez told Vogue Runway. A stray is, of course, a straight gay — the Bushwickian men with their black nail polish, crop tops, pearl necklaces, and creosoted egos. “These are men comfortable enough to greet you with two kisses and talk in a way that hypnotizes you into believing they aren’t who they really are.”


The strays show up in tight jeans and even tighter shirts, crucifixes dangling over the breast; motorcycle jackets with exaggerated, broadened shoulders; semi-sheer zebra-print longsleeves tucked into office pants; fur stoles protecting thick overcoats. Despite “metrosexual” being a distinctly late-’90s term, these textures felt overwhelmingly new. Here is a designer unafraid to comment on the current culture, examine its innards, and hypothesize about the future. 



And yet, much like Lopez’ last Luar collection, it's his womenswear — only slightly related to metrosexuality, and instead a byproduct of Luar Basics — that feels the most substantial. See: a hooded chocolate-syrup gown worn by model Alex Consani with thigh-cut tights; a pannier embedded at the top of a sweat-skirt; organza shirting melting underneath matching pants. One top, an off-shoulder swath of burgundy leather squished and bound by a diamond cuff, could be a phallic symbol or a muddy rose on a long stem, depending on your view. 


In many ways, Lopez is not asking us to be nostalgic for New York or the days of Style Rookie or Studio B, but to instead develop language for the New York that’s already around us. But how? How is it possible to feel optimistic about the fact nobody can afford rent or Pookie getting an invite or the Cheetos SS20 show? Even pre-pandemic, it’s been nearly impossible to live in the city. The traditional wave of art school freaks moving to mothball-infested fifth-floor walk-ups has dissipated in favor of puffer-vested Wharton grads who go to axe-throwing corporate mixers. Pride is sponsored by Citi Bank. That taco place overrun by Monsteras used to be a women’s shelter. When subculture stops existing, serious thinking stops existing (as stated by Alexandra Hildreth). When people complain about New York Fashion Week getting stale, they’re really complaining about New York itself getting stale, and what it means to experience art in a monoculture.



But you can’t blame Lopez for trying. By God, someone has to do it. The more attention, time, consideration, resources, and flowers we give to independent designers, the more the needle can flicker back to the center. Life — messy, discombobulated, thrilling real life — can get inoculated back into New York's art. It’s important to note that you can’t have subculture without a dominant culture; it’d get quite boring if we didn’t have a Cheetos SS20 show to laugh at. But we need more designers like Lopez willing to look forward and set new standards. Otherwise, I don’t want to have to one day agree with the coroners. 🌀


You can view the whole collection here.


 

Savannah Eden Bradley is a writer, fashion editor, gallerina, Gnostic scholar, reformed It Girl, and future beautiful ghost from the Carolina coast. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the fashion magazine HALOSCOPE. You can stalk her everywhere online @savbrads.

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