Everything about Sam MC London’s eleven looks at VFILES MADE yesterday said Tisci Givenchy—from the silhouette of basketball shorts, crewneck Ts, and sweatshirt-wrapped waists to the on-black floral and ethnic kitsch prints. The designer, Samuel McWilliams, the MADE release told me, was up-til-recently working for Givenchy. When that connection was made the first thing I thought was not, McWilliams is copying his alma mater, but that, unbeknownst to most, Tisci has been hawking young MC’s wares.
“There is such a huge gap between the established designers and the young designers who are starting to attract big audiences and traction in the Internet community,” VFILES founder Julie Anne Quay told Business of Fashion recently, “we wanted to give these younger newer designers a voice in a traditional context.” And so—MADE.
VFILES MADE (w/ a name recalling another youth-friendly NYFW organizer, Milk Made) is the first ever “user-generated” fashion showcase. Its designers were sourced online through an open-call contest. From about 100 submissions, team VFILES selected the four “most exciting, relevant collections”: Sam MC London, Steven Tai, Gypsy Sport, and Ammerman Schlösberg.
After months of online foreplay, the défilé went down yesterday at Chelsea’s Eyebeam. The presentation was well-produced and timed, a traditional (U-shaped) runway show that opened with the silencing hum of a remixed THX sound test. VFILES is all about #remix and the designers they showed clashed alike. In addition to Sam MC’s Givenchy-esque originals (worn w/ black Docs & black socks), we saw Steven Tai doing white volume, sorta like Stella, Gypsy Sport’s Rio Uribe and Nathan Qualley literalizing their brand name, and Ammerman Schlösberg (Elizabeth and Eric) making latexxx fetish dresses that Marilyn Manson-era Rose McGowan woulda worn. Those were cut with a touch of J.W. Anderson’s bandage, Christopher Kane’s buckles, and Miuccia’s geishas, and finished off with a head slicked futuristic (Trinity, The Matrix).
I spotted two penta/hexagonal soccer ball caps, on two different runways (Steven Tai, Gypsy Sport), two pairs of caped pants (the #trans mullet of trousers—business-patriarchy in the front, party-pussy in the back), again on two different runways (Steven Tai, Ammerman Schlösberg), and many other complementary forms. All are great goods that could/should/will be sold through the VFILES retail store.
The most outstanding collection, for me, was Gypsy Sport, which was either absolutely culturally irreverent or reverential; I haven’t spoken to the designers yet. Its culture clash was as world-spanning as soccer (outside of Hegemerica, that’s football), a game the collection paid direct homage to; balls in play. “Inspired by rituals and rites,” the Gypsy Sport’s statement reads, “the brand offers a new dress code for the global gangster.”
Menswear, increasingly staid since the early 20th-century, is ripe for playful experimentation, and that’s why Gypsy Sport’s jubilance was so compelling to me. You can send a woman down the runway in a bare ass dress like a hospital robe, as Ammerman Schlösberg did, and no one cares a crack, but give me drop crotch pants with a trompe l’oeil low-rider denim and plaid boxer motif on a topless Adonis and ughgughugh.
My most trusted companion (male) was most taken with Steven Tai’s well-crafted womenswear (“the quality of the fabrics and the shoes, so cute”), but that’s more telling of our mutual sex/gender dysmorphisms. Later that night, he—a man who likes men—would whine to me that he wished he were a lesbian, and I would reply that, “I just wrote something awful for Vice about how I’m trying to fuck like a gay boy!”
Genderfuck aesthetics and subcultural remix were two common threads that ran through all the MADE collections and into the crowd. This gen is fun, flirty, and full of information, and it’s really exciting to see us, aided by the world wide web and projects like VFILES, doing our own thing—even if that thing is just a Blendr/Grindr mash-up of things before. Hack the planet, digital natives.