Photography: Kohl Murdock
Chasing a lover is a strategic pursuit that oft overwhelms peoples’ lives—a process of slowly peeling away layers of your personality until you’re finally comfortable engaging in a walls-down, honest relationship. “When you’re into someone, you portray yourself in a very specific way and coordinate what parts of yourself you want to show,” explained designer August Vestbo of the breakout NYC label Bror August.
His debut fall ’16 collection, “Never Had a Boyfriend Jeans,” was a reflection of this “romantic revealing” process, featuring a painterly lineup that gradually exposed more skin with each look. From the sliver of an ass to a fully nude finale, bare bodies were as integral to the presentation’s impact as the designs themselves.
A sophomore effort to his premiere spring ’16 collection, Vestbo maintained a strong sense of color and craftsmanship this season, which both appear to be taking root as essentials of the label’s developing ethos. “August and I were both inspired by warmth, not like wool or warm materials but vibrant, warm colors—more summer-oriented textiles and shapes,” said Jake Levy, who styled the show. “[We] wanted to approach these summer trends as a way of giving the body a vision of warmth and sunshine that’s typically not evoked by [winter] fabrics—how colors and aesthetic might warm the body as a means of escaping the cold.”
This approach made the collection feel light, its dynamic yellow and blue palette contrasting the chilly, grey downpour outside David Lewis Gallery, where Bror August debuted with a cymbal installation by Dawn Kasper. Pieces were hand-painted with swirling abstractions, some sweeping lines forming portraits of men and others simply adding movement to the garments. “I don’t have a background in painting, so I experiment,” Vestbo said about his process. Delicate, glass bobbles were sewn onto pieces, offering subtle texture and graphic ornamentation, while floral iconography appeared as 3D applications on a pair of jeans and retro mini skirt.
Beneath the surface of Vestbo’s designs was a narrative about his experience with relationships, or lack thereof; this dissection manifested into something visually blissful and admirably self-aware. “[My collection is] about how I’ve never had a boyfriend,” he said. “You know how some people have a ‘thing’ to help them feel identified, almost instead of having a fully grown personality? My ‘thing’ used to be [about] how I obsessively had the fear of never getting a boyfriend. The collection is research into this experience. All my interest in boys would become obsessive because I was too determined with the goal of a boyfriend.”
His NYFW breakout felt like a reaction to this realization—a total liberation from any deep-seeded insecurities. Vestbo loosened up, invited us inside his psyche and even slyly revealed a guilty pleasure, Harry Potter; models wore matching sheer tops, each embroidered with Hogwarts house names, “Slytherin,” and, “Gryffindor.” It’s subtleties like this that make Bror August so refreshing, with strong concepts and unseasoned innocence that breathe new life into contemporary New York fashion.