Staged inside The Slipper Room, a LES neo-burlesque theater, the New York designer’s narrative began immediately, as guests, including Macy Rodman and Sussi, filed into small rows facing a stage decorated with red velvet curtains and warm yellow lighting. Dancing with ghosts of failed careers, the intimate atmosphere felt like a venue where small town dreams could either become a fleeting reality or burn out instantly—the perfect environment to foster Schlösberg’s spring ’17 vision.
“It’s just the beginning—I feel like she’s a small town girl starting out and this is that small theater she has her roots in,” Schlösberg said, explaining his starry-eyed character this season. One-by-one, models emerged from Stage Left, and milked mini performances—blowing kisses and teasing the front row—before fiercely descending into the audience and onto a DIY catwalk with Hole’s “Celebrity Skin” on blast. Schlösberg’s looks were campy, but self-aware—imbued with the same sense of costume as his work with Ammerman Schlösberg, just edging closer to Hollywood than Halloween.
Sequins appeared on slinky party dresses, tops with flared sleeves and pasties, as well as on massive star decals applied to skirts—both mini and floor-length. The looks were slutty and the styling purposefully low-brow—a Chinese-printed bikini top was worn with a pinstriped skirt finished with monstrous side slits and trashy red lace; a white cropped tee was printed with the phrase, “Make Me Perfect,” and the outline of a cowgirl on her knees; models’ makeup looked overdone, like a drag queen’s original go-to mug before discovering the power of a more subtle, fishy look. The entire spectacle felt like witnessing a smokey movie scene unfold in real life—surreal, cinematic and tongue-in-cheek.
“Anna Nicola Smith, Nomi from Showgirls and Kimber from Nip/Tuck were my three leading ladies,” Schlösberg said in reference to this season’s inspiration. “They’re all such strong women, who put on these characters. Kimber was an actress who was never enough for herself—she wanted to be perfect and it led her to suicide. Anna Nicole Smith didn’t give a fuck—she did her all the time. And Nomi was a stripper, so she put on a costume and went for it. I like that idea: Morphing into a character. That’s always my thing: Costume, without being a costume.”
Photography: Kohl Murdock