Fashion’s hard. It just is. And much like America’s middle class, designers with established, eponymous brands and independent visions are either disappearing or struggling to stay afloat. Often unfairly expected to compete with big-money brands (who can do all the things because they have all the dough), they fall into the trap of producing umpteen collections a year and staging expensive, over-the-top fashion shows at least twice annually. All that can be emotionally and financially crippling and a handful of New York designers are capital-O Over it. But they’re not throwing in the towel—no, no—they’re seizing control and doing things on their own terms. Case in point is Christopher Peters, one half of Creatures of the Wind (the other being Shane Gabier), which, in 2017, quit the ready-to-wear rat race in favor of special capsule projects. Well, the day before New York Fashion Week, Peters launched a new, deeply personal project, CDLM—a menswear-leaning gender-neutral range of expertly de-and-reconstructed looks fashioned from deadstock fabric and vintage wares. “Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world,” explained Gabier. “It’s important for me to minimize my impact as much as I can. Beyond that, so much that I love about fashion is based on memory and experience. It’s counterintuitive to start totally new and try and add history and identity to a garment. But I can manipulate things to make the story more interesting.”
The show, held at Soho’s Peter Freeman Gallery, was gritty, honest, and standing room only. Bethann Hardison watched it lying on the hardwood floor, which was frankly amazing, and harkened back to the days when fashion wasn’t so deadly serious. “There are lots of components of a fashion show that are generally anxiety-inducing and I wanted to avoid them,” explained Gabier. “I like the idea that everyone who is there can have front row, that they can go chat with their friends, and just feel more at ease.” Tavi Gevinson and artist John Giorno walked (like pros), but their presence wasn’t Insta-bait—rather, it was organic, natural, low-key, and didn’t steal focus from the clothes, which had a ’90s feel. When asked what he thought he was adding to New York’s crowded landscape, Gabier replied, “I don’t know what in particular I’m adding. I just want to make things I enjoy making.” This October, his fans will be able to enjoy what he’s made too when his collection launches at Dover Street Market’s L.A. outpost.