A puffer jacket. A man or a woman trudging through midtown Manhattan in the middle of a blizzard. How uncool that man or woman looks in that moment. These were the references for Telfar Clemens’ Fall 2017 collection, which showed at Skylark Studio last night, to a soundtrack by Ryan Trecartin.
Clemens, whose eponymous label has become known for its simple unisex wear that is just odd enough, spoke backstage about producing new categories of clothing. 'This season is basically a fusion of different garments and different genres to make a new genre of a garment,' he mused. 'We’re fusing outerwear with formalwear. We’re fusing a cut-off short and a legging. A sweater and a puffy jacket. And we’re really just trying to erase any kind of category or assignment.'
This goal to subvert traditional classes of attire (and gender, but that is always implied for Clemens) came through in minimal, subtly deconstructed basics. See: a somber blue button-down shirt, fit with knit sleeves and lace stitching; loose dark denim jeans that meld into pink cotton at the hip; a banana yellow puffer jacket with fine knit panels and that same lace detailing; track pants with both nylon and wool stripes. All worn by men and women alike.
Nothing is loud and nothing is obvious. Silhouettes pay nod to basketball uniforms, pilgrim frocks, Patagonia outerwear, and streetwear standards in seemingly innocuous, totally comfortable terms. If you ask Telfar, this sense of ease - and sheer wearability - is kind of the point. 'I know people don’t typically think in the way that we [do], but at the same time, this is how people actually dress,' said Clemens of this season’s mainstream co-opted offering. 'We’re kind of making a testament to [the irrelevance of gendered categories] by showing these silhouettes on women and showing the same silhouette on a man, and really just trying to end this conversation of thinking about it. Is it your size? Does it look good? Pick what you want. That’s the thing. People don’t know what they want until someone tells them they want it. I’m telling them they want it.'
As usual, Clemens took the everyday and made it just unusual, and just political enough to matter. The effort was frankly, successful. Sometimes the stronger statement comes through in the quietest terms.