Photography: Kathleen O’Neill
We all know inclusivity and body positivity are the buzzwords of the season—who can forget the CFDA’s diversity reminder from last year? And while it’s nice to see more sizes, colors and shapes on the runway, it does feel forced at most presentations, with Chromat being an exception. After all, designer Becca McCarren has been sending plus-size models, trans activists and amputee/TSS advocate, Lauren Wasser, down the runway since the beginning. So why is everyone still so shocked? I mean, in contrast to Balenciaga’s continuous all-white runways, Chromat is completely radical. But every review I read about the show—and even every troll hater Instagram comment—seems to forget entirely about the clothes, and praise Chromat solely for its casting—casting it’s been doing every season, ever since McCarren started. That doesn’t mean it’s not subversive and totally praiseworthy—because it is. But the more we talk about how crazy it is, the rarer it stays. And that’s because, save for a few designers who will do (or not do) anything for publicity (Stefano Gabbanna, I’m looking at you), diversity isn’t and shouldn’t be a gimmick. That’s part of what makes the Chromat ethos so appealing—there’s a fine line between trying to be an ally and tokenizing people, and Chromat always feels authentic. Take, for instance, the anti-thigh chaffing bands Becca showed this season. Only someone with a real interest in dressing real women, would even think to show something functional (and not necessarily fashionable) at NYFW. The same goes for all of the collection—bikinis, bathing suits, athletic wear and harnesses, all made to accentuate the female body in all of its forms.
This season, McCarren ditched the technology element she’s focused on in past seasons, concentrating on fabric and the ways in which it can transform shape. Though it lacked the innovation of previous seasons in terms of 3D silhouettes and multi-purpose pieces, the Chromat S/S ’18 collection was inventive in its simplicity. Just like her casting, McCarren doesn’t need any drama to make a statement—her clothes speak for themselves.
View photos from the Chromat S/S ’18 presentation, above.