Fueled by a distaste for the current state of fashion, designer Lindsay Degen created her AW ’15 collection to reject wearability and celebrate one-of-a-kind, handmade beauty. She pulled inspiration from artist Claes Oldenburg, whose 1961 project, “Store,” married fine art commerce with everyday objects. In the piece, Oldenburg filled a Lower East Side storefront with larger-than-life sized utilitarian goods to showcase their aesthetic value beyond being affordable corner store essentials. This season, Degen crafted her clothes through the same lens, elevating wardrobe essentials to look more like pieces of art than grocery store go-to’s.
“The stores of today’s New York City are less likely to be owned by creatives who share Oldenburg’s sentiment,” Degen said. “Prestigious stores that designers are urged to sell to lack creativity, have massive egos and are notorious for sighting the designers that they do decide to buy pieces from. Ask any designer, young or old and they will recount horror stories of unpaid balances and loss of integrity.”
Despite tackling such a serious subject, Degen’s presentation had a lighthearted storybook feel, almost evocative of the ’90s television series, “The Big Comfy Couch.” Models wore layers of bright knits, rooted in a more subdued, earthy color palette. Scattered throughout the space were giant, campy Oldenburg-inspired figures, all seemingly pulled from the dreamy pages of a picture book. Blithely playful and innocent, these sculpted objects still projected a quiet sex appeal where Degen worked in drooping breasts with colored nipples and hanging penises. This body-positive motif transcended onto models’ clothing, as well, with both a knit bib and tank top boasting bold, red nipples.
Degen’s dynamic presentation was loud, confident proof that fashion doesn’t always need to be taken so seriously. Her models were all unsigned, handpicked friends, and she even mocked industry buyers by giving them just one all-black look.
“Amidst this web of creativity and hope the rainbow thread has spun, one solitary black outfit stands out in contrast,” Degen said. “It is a direct response to the number one question I hear from buyers and critics; ‘I LOVE that, but does it come in black?’”
The Inspiration: Claes Oldenburg