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New York

Public School

Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear

New York

Public School

Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear

New York

BY Katharine K. Zarrella

February 12, 2017

• It should surprise no one that Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne sent a politically-charged Fall 2017 collection down the runway at Milk Studios this morning. 

• For starters, they told us they would last week. But more seriously, the designers sent a bold message during their Spring 2017 men’s and women’s show, which debuted back in June of last year, long before Trump was elected. That show focused on the phrase “We need leaders”—or WNL for short—and ended with the designers spray painting those words on their stage. 

• That phrase appeared again this season—printed on the backs of sweatshirts and bombers—because, well, the American people could really use an actual leader right now instead of, as Alec Baldwin put it on Saturday Night Live last night, “a T.V. President.”

• “Make America New York”—a call for the entire country to embrace the Big Apple’s inclusive (at least in comparison to most of America) melting-pot mentality—was Public School’s other slogan this season, and came embroidered on Trumpian red baseball caps, as well as on a cropped red sweatshirt. 

• “It’s about being out front,” said Chow when asked about his embrace of politically-minded fashion. “Fashion is worn by people. It moves around with you. It travels with you, and we need to do a lot more to confront these ideas as opposed to living in our own little bubble. That bubble has burst. Fashion is an excellent vehicle,” he continued. “It’s everywhere you look. It can help those ideas travel and build.”

• What ideas, exactly? This season, the designers played with representations of classic Americana—denim, workwear, plaid, camo, corduroy—and (metaphorically) tore them apart to create completely reimagined streetwear-tinged clothes. It was as if they wanted to break down America’s antiquated notions and stereotypes, and reassemble them into something young and forward-thinking—something that spoke to the America of today. 

• A patchwork print, which really popped on a pair of baggy, pajama-style separates, combined patterns from a multitude of different cultures. According to Osborne, it represented the need to dissolve literal and ideological borders. “We started thinking, what is a border? It’s just a line you make—it’s just an imaginary line that somebody’s made up. We tried to burn that line, which is why the pattern has so many different elements.”

• That concept of inclusivity was echoed by the soundtrack, an intentionally disjointed rendition of “This Land Is Your Land” by Twin Shadow. As the lyrics played over the speakers, accompanied by acoustic guitar, they were interrupted by distractions, like the ringing of an iPhone. A message, perhaps, that we must not be distracted by white noise during the path to resistance. 

• Ideologically, this collection was strong. And I sincerely hope that it is as far-reaching as the designers expect it will be—that it spreads Public School’s message far beyond the liberal bubbles on the two coasts. And there’s no reason it shouldn’t, because the clothes were strong, too. The designers employed unexpected techniques like draping, corsetry, and pleating to streetwear fabrics, elevating their work to a new aesthetic level. 

• It’s also worth noting that this is the first collection the pair has shown since departing DKNY in December. When asked how they felt about shifting their full focus to their own line, Osborne laughed, “It’s still new to us.” Judging by the caliber of this outing, they’re adjusting just fine. 

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