Opening with a performance from Brooklyn-born star Nas, and staged in the landmark New York Public Library, the show is a personal love letter to the neighborhoods of New York. In a city where everyone is a stranger, where everyone is from somewhere else, neighborhoods are what make New York home. From the Bronx and Chelsea to Queens and the Upper East Side, neighborhoods help shape characters and create an identity.
The words ‘Neighborhood Kings’ are emblazoned throughout the collection because, in this show, everyone – no matter where they come from – is a king of their own hood. The Kills play a live rock set as a diverse cast of models and personalities walk the runway: among them, Sofia Richie and Jeremy Meeks, photographer Sebastian Faena, graffiti artist Alec Monopoly, Patriots player Danny Amendola and rappers Young Thug, Desiigner and Fetty Wap.
There are no barriers here: music, style, race, gender, everything is mixed together. There is no distinction between women’s and menswear: the girls wear boys’ t-shirts and hoodies; the boys wear girls’ jackets and even dresses. There is no distinction between streetwear and couture: an embroidered evening dress is worn with a bomber jacket; an intarsia mink coat paired with a hoodie; thigh-high sneakers next to chinchilla heeled boots. This New York gang is free to express themselves however they want and free to dress however they feel. Their strength is in their individuality and their differences are what unify them.
A closer inspection reveals that prints and patches also tell a tale of New York. The symbols of a dollar bill form the print on a fur-hooded coat, and Statue of Liberty and FBI (‘Fashion Beyond Imagination’) patches decorate sweatshirts and bombers. Elsewhere, metallic floor-length puffer coats and studded snakeskin jackets give outerwear the protective quality of urban armor.
As hip-hop legends 2 Live Crew end the extravaganza with their 1990 protest anthem Banned in the USA, it’s clear that what New York needs now is an Empire State of Plein…