Photography: Kohl Murdock
Last February, Victor Barragán—formerly ytinifninfinity—shook up NYFW conventions with a provocative presentation that unfolded IRL in a private apartment (and URL through the live sex cam site, Cam4). Since, the Mexico City transplant has been inching his way toward high fashion, solidifying his reputation as a promising commercial player by showing this season as part of MADE Fashion Week at the Standard High Line—quite a switch from the small, sweaty space we once watched models smash croissants into their crotch at a few months back.
Rising designers’ transitions from widespread underground clout to mainstream success comes with the inevitable concern that they’ll lose their original outsider edge. But with Barragán’s spring ’17 display, we saw the designer maintaining his roots, while honing his brand’s vision a bit more—tapping into newfound maturity and finding a more refined balance between approachable ready-to-wear and high-concept performance art.
A collaboration with Barragán’s longtime set designer, Ruben Gutierrez, the Standard was transformed into an interactive space that recalled Albert Camus’ 1942 essay Myth of Sisyphus, where the protagonist was condemned by Gods to ceaselessly roll a rock to the top of a mountain. Models each took turns rolling a giant boulder up a sleek, white ramp, before letting it wildly tumble down toward the audience—some struggling to make it happen, others using the prop to seduce viewers and one model admirably lifting the entire thing above his head. Much like Barragán’s fall ’16 Cam4 strip teases, models’ individual performances added dimension to the collection, set to a soundtrack of whizzing helicopter blades, surging synths and a woman shrieking.
Barragán said he wanted everyone to look like they’ve been outside for a prolonged period of time, speaking to small patches of grass decorating models’ bodies. From this, there was certainly a feeling of isolation, like these models have been living together on a remote island for months, forced to make a collective community and discover new, fresh ways to dress themselves. Some wore rock purses with giant hardware, reflecting Barragán’s stage design and echoing his unconventional eggplant clutches for spring ’16—the style that made him an Instagram star.
But even with allusions to the natural world, his collection had undertones of sophisticated glamour—subverted in a sly, slutty manner—with lucite kitten heels, shimmering ruffled tops, tailored leather separates (with cargo pockets for poppers) and metal chain-link details. Barragán’s entire lineup felt like a response to the Kardashian-imbued aesthetic that’s infiltrated mainstream fashion for the past year, like if Balmain’s muse was exiled to the woods and forced to survive with no access to luxury. How would she survive? By rebuilding and, thus, inevitably redefining “luxury” using her immediate surroundings, gut instincts and natural desire for human sexuality.
This is where Barragán has found his voice.