Photography by Jett Johnson
Stepping onto the filthy sidewalk of Ludlow Street, I knew I was in for the type of unusual presentation from breakout brand YTINIFNINFINITY that only the mystique of downtown Manhattan could provide. The gritty area has drawn a big crowd this New York Fashion Week in an attempt to capture the “real” New York—just a few blocks away, Riccardo Tisci transformed a parking garage into his Givenchy after party playground. Outside of Leftfield—a bar I’ve frequented many Saturdays for Melissa Burns’s LES soiree, “Massive”—the concrete walkway was barely visible through a dazzling array of costume furs, fishnets, wide-legged pants and the bodies of the alt-millennial fashionistas who’d thrifted them.
Once inside the dark cave-like space, I nestled myself close to the bar on a familiar black pleather stool and spun myself toward the presentation’s plastic-wrapped set, where a melancholy disco ball illuminated the scene. My friend Third—one of the show’s models—greeted me in Spy Kids-style sunglasses and a nude leather dress with raw edged denim pockets. She was holding an eggplant decorated in rhinestones and strung to resemble an evening clutch, though I didn’t find this particularly out of the ordinary.
Third turned to join the other models: a slowly growing group of individuals who, just a moment before, had intermingled inconspicuously within the crowd. It quickly became apparent that this group was the cohesive collective of designer Victor Barragan’s SS ’16 creation. The crowd hushed and music played; a man’s distorted voice rang over a chopped version of Crystal Water’s “Gypsy Woman,” informing the crowd of the current filthy state of meat production and consumption in the U.S. The term “pastoral fantasy” reverberated through the speakers like an Orwellian mantra, which propagated the home-on-the-range vibe that was given by Barragan’s rawhide pants and heavy-duty workers gloves.
Raw-edged denim and plaids were joined together by cuts of fabric and leathers, like twine tied around a stick of salami. Models took turns undressing and re-styling one another, taking what was at one point a large cravat and repurposing it into a headpiece, and then later binding themselves to one another’s thighs with the same fabric. The eggplant purse had taken new meaning as it joined a variety of organic accessories in the lineup. Models took turns nibbling star fruit and kiwi earrings off each other’s lobes.
Once the meat monologue ended, the throbbing soundtrack intensified; models melted back into dancing and libations, as if there may have never been any fashion show at all. A smattering of plastic wrap was the only reminder. I asked Barragan after the show who he’d like to see wearing his clothes, and he told me he liked to make things his friends would wear. Judging by the way his models blended seamlessly in the club, it looks like he may be onto something: clothes that work in the urban jungle, as well as they do on the fashion farm.