but I follow her.
New York Fashion Week on the tattered edge of America
We were somewhere outside the High Line, on the edge of Chelsea, when the clothes began to take hold. Out here, where the swingers of the Village used to bob on a platform in a scuzzy East River; where butchers once stuffed fat and raw muscle into filmy sausage casing; where Diane Keaton whistled so-long-Annie-Hall to satisfy her fatal sexual fix out Looking For Mr. Goodbar; where mole people once lunged at pedestrians with hypodermic needles; where you’re now charged $250 for a handle of the number one vodka of 2033; where America turned itself inside out and went through the washing machine with no detergent and a cup of dirty water—out here is where I saw Kaelen and COMEFORBREAKFAST and William Okpo.
I was strung out and not in a cool way on boxy jackets and sweatshirts, on prints and politics. But Kaelen did all this and made it look new. There were these prints, first off, digital and industrial and grungy, that looked like something I’d seen the last time I took eight snappers plus everything in sight and rode a carousel backwards while listening to opera and saw bats.
And I liked it. I liked it in a floating dress, and a baroque-print dress that looked like spilled gasoline. I liked it with the boxy motorcycle vest in cool collected lavender with tufts of fur gossiping quietly on the back:
Mark my words: I’ll buy that vest come August. (Image.)
The whole scene was moody. But then, I was nine hundred sheets to the wind from margaritas on ice I’d consumed right before at Mark McNairy. Margaritas on ice were not being served at Mark McNairy, but I’d managed to procure a few many by jangling a server’s brains, which is the same as twisting a drinking man’s arm.
I headed outside to trudge through rain that came down like thumbtacks, when — a moon-faced kid who looked like a docile wannabe interviewer for Playboy — “Can I take your picture?”
“Sure kid,” I spat, “but only of the shoes.” I realized wasn’t wearing any shoes. Or maybe it was all the bizzlers I took.
“And what’s your line of work?” he asked.
I moved in close: “I’m practically a god of social media, see, and I may have invented Twitter, but I can’t really tell you because it wasn’t exactly legal.”
Then back into that endless wasteland of crushed Coca-Cola cans. I thought about America, New York, and all the galleries that now sat proud where it all once sat so dirty. Art and fashion aren’t so different, but then, to be an artist is to posit oneself over and over as the tragic hero of one’s own life, and fashion is never about that. And the only thing to do when these racoons squeeze in on you is to load up on screeching chemicals and go to COMEFORBREAKFAST and William Okpo.
I was slow getting in. Two girls in front of me in sharp clothing weren’t on the list and got combative, and a few bats overhead gave me knowing winks. You can turn your back on another person, but never turn your back on a publicist, because they’ll be waiting, with hunting axe waving wildly in your face, the blade at your eye and their clipboard at your gut.
Beetlejuice black and white heels at COMEFORBREAKFAST made me feel dizzy until I remembered all the zappers I was on. There was a cool clean swing coat in black with a leather lapel that was fit for your own funeral. William Okpo was Alice’s Adventures in High School Wonderland, these varsity jacket-clad chicks in pairs with three balls of hair like cheerleader topiaries and a big bold unibrow.
“Embrace the unibrow,” the two designers told an interviewer, and then there was a roar all around, and I was gone.
The days seemed to grow longer, and we had been without water for 238 hours. Days before, we had turned to cannibalism to survive.
Nahhhhht. Anyways, I didn’t go to a whole lot over the weekend because I really needed to go sledding because sledding rules. So I started up after a weekend break today, with Mark McNairy. I think when a designer starts with menswear, then adds womenswear, you get the most wearable stuff. The “fantasia” element of fashion becomes about swagger, about ‘tude, rather than about the charming absurdity or decadence or costume-ish quality that is often the fun of a typical designer’s imagined “Girl.” I would wear most of what McNairy showed today, because it looks easy to put on and get the instant look and feel of bilthesome badassery: quilted down jackets constructed like work shirts, leather miniskirts with big square almost-mod pockets on the front. And a lot of designers—from Jeremy Scott to Betsey Johnson to Rei Kawakubo—might make you smile or even grin, but only Mark McNairy will make you actually laugh.
It’s sportswear, but this is the 22-year-old who wore a school uniform her whole life, and still craves the regularity, the suggestion of sophistication, but wants to taunt that idea more than just a little bit, like a star pupil writing dirty words on the blackboard in Latin. McNairy’s punk does not spit and snarl; it smiles lazily with the knowledge that it’s putting one over on you by mixing a distant cousin of the prep aesthetic with snarky one-liners. Perhaps this is because while other irreverent designers traffic mainly in images, McNairy traffics heavily in words—anathema not only to the fashion industry, but to an age in which Tumblr images and gifs are the dominant currency.
Granted, the one-liners are aesthetic, too: a ski-mask screened a slobbering cartoon mouth, a bunch of cowboy hats (the cowboy—more Garth Brooks than John Wayne, though who’s to say, really—was a big theme here), and a trench coat adorned with daisy patches (for men). But I have to say, there really was nothing more fun that imagining oneself spearing out a deft wisecrack to an adversary and walking away, leaving the insulted with a final punchline on the back of your McNasty plaid shirt: “TUPPERWARE.”