In true form, VFiles kicked off New York Fashion Week with a fresh roster of undiscovered talent and a high-octane production that, this year, featured performances from rising Beyoncé-approved artist Sophie Beem and Rawwest Alive rapper Tyga. If there’s one thing VFiles does effortlessly, it’s deliver an experience that feels really fucking cool, proudly executing their subversive agenda, while making everything easily accessible for the everyday consumer.
Though a majority of contemporary NY fashion is fixated on palpable marketability, VFiles has always been the company to shake up tired standards and elevate the voices of youth culture. This season, they introduced five promising designers to a creative downtown crowd—“creative downtown” excluding Kylie Jenner, who sat front row sipping her Starbucks in a blue lace bodysuit. Regardless, meet the next generation of fashion, below:
Despite initially studying economics and french in Rome, Kim Shui always found herself returning to fashion—an interest that eventually guided her through years at Parsons and Central Saint Martins. Her designs leading up to this collection have been largely conceptual, so Shui said she was eager to tackle a proper ready-to-wear lineup. “I applied the same interests as my work before and wanted to address how we approach the garments we easily identify with on a mannequin,” Shui said.
She played with fabrics frequently overused in fashion, like python and plaid, in an attempt to remove any existing connotations they have. “They’re all slightly distasteful, so I wanted to have fabrics mix together in a way that was unusual to lose those previous stigmas,” she said. “I have these metallic socks and red fishnets; there’s a dress with a little fur trim. These are things that could be tacky, but I wanted to put them together in a way that wasn’t.”
Pulling inspiration from his Ukrainian background, rising designer Anton Belinskiy created a collection that explored ideas centered on utopian fashion. This conversation of a flawless society manifested into literal references, like the word, “Utopia” stamped across plain tees and an oversized cherry red cape. Belinskiy also looped in more abstract iconography, including Jesus’ crown of thorns, which was an image echoed by his pastel cloud print that mirrored a fictional, heavenly escape.
There was a wide range of stylistic offerings throughout the lineup, from casual sportswear separates to dramatically ruffled, silk dresses and tailored, office wear topcoats. Maybe Belinskiy’s point about “perfection” is that it’s something that can’t be clearly defined—an imaginary environment that’s perfect only because it’s defined by each individual and not an oppressive whole.
Exploring the widely uncharted world of technology in a post-digital era, Neurocouture’s presentation showcased the future of fashion, as part of VFiles’ new “Wearable Tech” category. The experimental brand repurposed military-grade, sniper snow capes and connected them to headsets that all read the wearer’s brain activity. “We’re filling the space between what you’re thinking and what you’re wearing,” said Founder Nayana Malhotra. “As thoughts shift, the projected GIFs will immediately change in response.”
During the presentation, lights went pitch black and two models emerged, as colorful projections filled the circular, stark-white capes. From viral Donald Trump GIFS to more abstract, trippy visuals, Neurocouture’s sci-fi installment provided an exciting glimpse into where fashion could be heading next.
Building upon Switzerland’s rich history in textile design, Ottolinger designer duo—Christa Bösch and Cosima Gadient—sought to celebrate the possibilities of “modern couture” fabric treatment by shaping denim into lace and creating organic patterns with fire. “We wanted to get a fragile garment by treating it very roughly,” the two said. “This collection was all about playing with deconstruction.”
Wearing bluntly cropped, light-brown wigs, models wore wardrobe essentials—tailored trousers, simple pullovers and classic button-ups—all of which were marked with the tinge of a delicate flame. There was something romantic about Ottolinger’s details, worked into hard-edge utilitarian fabrics and collectively delivering something uniquely rebellious. This was all about maintaining control, while flirting with chaos—embracing destruction, while celebrating standard silhouettes.
Easily the strongest designer from VFiles’ latest crew, Amsterdam-based Hardeman revels in the accessibility of denim as a vehicle to reach larger audiences. “I want to refer to everybody,” Designer Sophie Hardeman said about the Americana fabric. “I want everyone to recognize it. People can understand the language because it’s something they wear every day, but then I’m taking it upside down, inside out and out of proportion.”
By centering on a time-honored, pedestrian textile, Hardeman was able to subvert it into more challenging reiterations: a transparent, denim-inspired silk suit, a reverse full-length denim skirt, a mini skirt cropped to reveal the model’s underwear, a jacket with elongated sleeves extending beyond the hands. “I’m enhancing discomfort and using a very diverse cast” she said. “We have all different characters—all different body types. It’s all about wearing what you want. Rock the camel toe—wear those skinny jeans if you’re a guy with big hips or a girl with a flat ass.”
Keep Reading: Meet the VFiles SS ’16 Roster