Over the centuries, fashion, and art have often intermixed in the arena of Haute Couture where individualism and artisan craft have always reigned supreme. But in the Ready-to-Wear world where mass-appeal and profitability are paramount, art and artistry often lose out to blind adherence to trends and staid styling, leaving those of us who aren't living on a couture budget with nothing but boring pieces clogging our closets.
Thankfully, at the Fall 2011 collections in New York last February it became apparent that a small band of young designers are turning the ready-to-wear world upside down; shaking off tried-and-true trends and bringing their own art-gallery worthy ideas to the runways.
A few of our favorite innovators for Fall 2011 include:
Speaking with designer Johnson Hartig backstage moments before the show, his passion and emotional investment in the Libertine Fall 2011 collection was obvious. But it wasn't until one exquisitely painted piece after another came down the runway that something else became clear; Libertine is set to change the way we think about ready to wear. An array of silk-screened pieces that played with conservative silhouettes giving them an anarchist attitude with graffiti-like silk screening and a cacophony of color, the Libertine collection dispelled the myth that Ready-to-Wear is mundane and ignited the room with energy and exuberance.
True story: moments before the Frank Tell Fall 2011 presentation began, a VERY high profile editor of a major-glossie was overheard murmuring "that's just weird." Granted the Frank Tell presentation was unusual. It was staged on a floor of faux snow, proceeded by a mini-film and presented like a revolving runway show. But still, anyone who's ever been part of the avant-garde knows being misunderstood by the mainstream means you are going to be major. When you combine the strange set-up with furs and ornate knits that were artfully unraveled to produce a serious Nordic vampire/Game of Thrones vibe, you get a collection that sticks in the hearts and minds of those in attendance long after the presentation has ended. Even now, months later, it is impossible not to feel almost haunted by the collection.
In a year when it has felt like every young designer is thinking about and creating an homage to the late Lee Alexander McQueen (some extremely literally) Katie Gallagher's ultra-futuristic collection was both refreshing and mesmerizing. Styled in the extreme with kohl and net adorned eyes paired with roughed-up hair, the collection was both wholly aggressive and heart-stoppingly beautiful.
For the past four seasons Timo Weiland has been an increasingly popular collection at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Although having graduated from showing in off-site gallery spaces to claiming a place of their own in the official tents, the Timo team has never lost site of their vision and highly-conceptual point of view. The Fall 2011 collection which was inspired by Colonial India was no exception. From painterly prints, to abstracted animal skins, every piece was a work of art made wearable.
For more images from the Libertine, Frank Tell, Katie Gallagher, and Timo Weiland Fall 2011 collections visit the Style Wylde Galleries.