Love Notes Passed in Public School

public-school

There are few things more gratifying in the fashion industry than seeing talent blossom before your eyes. We take a certain level of responsibility in it, we relish in the delight of not knowing where it’s going. Much like the rest of the world, my first real exposure to Jack and Lazaro of Proenza Schouler was around the time of their Fashion Fund award in 2004. Easy call. They were incredibly artistic, gorgeous and so distinctively New York. Then you have the Doo.Ri(s) of the world who rode off of the industry’s expectations long after her relevance in high fashion had deflated. With that uncertainty being what it is, you fall in love with caution. You try not to follow the herd for fear that you may give your heart and lose them.

Recently we’ve been experiencing a surge in interest in high fashion brands who count “street” in either their roots or influence. HBA, Surface to Air and notably Public School. It’s hard to compete with the level of hype surrounding Public School. The brand identity, the hard to define woman they dress, the designers themselves. It’s all nothing short of intoxicating. These are the guys you want to win. My inappropriate crush on the happily married Dao-Yi Chow aside, these guys are magnetic. They have a passion and a point of view that rivals anyone on the horizon right now. It’s easy with them. I take an immense amount of snobby pride in my ability to suss out the counterfeits. So much so that oftentimes I’m quick to dismiss based on my need to play devil’s advocate.The initial explosion of attention around Public School made me wary. In all areas of culture, luxury markets like to flirt with the idea of exposing “street” trends to a luxury audience. Grunge, graffiti, cheap drugs, metal, hip hop, baby hair. With this said, I approached the duo with trepidation. It looked good to me, on the boys I nuzzled wearing it – it felt good to me. But I was hesitant. Is it a gimmick? Is the CFDA using the undeniably talented PS duo to promote their efforts in diversity, will they and the consumers they dress be used as symbols of a fixed time moment in fashion? Most importantly was I sipping the proverbial kool-aid?
Fashion makes you a cynic. As my obsession with PS grew I not only felt guilty about doubting the authenticity but cringed at my own expectations of how far they would go. My skepticism was with the industry not the talents of the designers themselves. Maxwell and Dao combined come from strong backgrounds in both “urban” fashion and media. Public School, as a brand has become a moniker for how we now define “streetwear”, as in brands with a clear aesthetic influence rooted in the street. As we ride these incredibly fine lines between “urban” and “streetwear” what are the rules and who is making them? In a Fashionista.com interview with Hood By Air’s Shayne Oliver when asked if he considered his work streetwear he responded “I don’t get what that means really. Like does ‘street’ mean what people wear on the subway? I think it’s a categorization that’s just lazy. People wear different things in the street all over the world”. Shayne’s point is valid and brings up an overdue conversation. Whose street are we referring to? As brands defined this way become more and more global, is the categorization divisive. Several events in the past couple of years have blurred these lines further. In addition to the meteoric rise of brands like HBA, Harvey Nichols launched a collaborative design event with fashion and music collective #BeenTrill. Versace’s recent creative rape of Kesh for American Apparel has resulted in a legal issue quite the opposite of what we’re used to seeing. The copyright lawsuit reflects a “trickle up” pattern. Consecutive events like these all happening on the same stage changes the fashion vernacular. In 1992, Steven Meisel featured a bare faced Nadja Auermann with her nose ring, the next year Marc Jacobs nearly tanked his career with his reinvention of Perry Ellis. The year after that, Kurt Cobain, who unexpectedly and unwillingly became a style icon died suddenly. By 1995, grunge was no longer a thing fashion accepted but rather a thing we discovered and subsequently absorbed. A thing that buried its positioning in the middle of our mindset of what we thought we knew about fashion. Grunge no longer “met” high fashion. They cohabitated. It became a reference. Street is an influence, not a category.
In William Van Meter’s NY Times article on the duo of PS, Meter gives a short paragraph to discuss their categorization as Streetwear. Dao is quoted in the article as saying ‘Luxury designers like Riccardo Tisci can say most of their inspiration comes from the street; We started from a street base, but our influences are higher fashion’. Well said Dao. In an unneeded clarification of Dao’s quote Meter goes on to say “In other words, Public School makes street clothes aiming to be fashion instead of fashion trying to be street.” From my understanding, Dao wasn’t saying that at all. An “aim” wasn’t implied. By using Riccardo Tisci as an example (who is about as luxury and non-American as you can get), I understood that any high fashion designer can use the street as an influence without being categorized. Tisci is no more trying to be “street” as Osborne and Chow are trying to be “fashion”.
It is an outdated term or rather it is outdated usage. Fewer and fewer articles being written on Public School make an effort to define their “street meets whatever” style. This week Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow were named Creative Directors of DKNY. It’s a massive moment in the American fashion structure. Choices are being made based on growth potential and true consumer appreciation, not the attempt to capitalize on a passing phase of cool. In all honesty, two minority designers with brands like Sean John and Ecko on their resumes not being pigeonholed as urban designers is a moment of growth for the fashion industry.

The Great Equalizer

KATENAOMI

The bathroom is the last great equalizer.

Every other room in your home, every other activity in your life can somehow be manipulated by life circumstances. Your physical appearance can affect the amount of or quality of ass in the bedroom. Your kitchen can be anything from a Bunsen burner to an organic stocked, chef manned station. For just a few extra coins, life can be lived through your phone – making the act of mutually experienced human behavior a thing of the past. Let the church say Hallelujah! This past weekend, I stayed in my bed until 130pm. I came to the conclusion that my bed had become a symbolic womb. Warm and comforting, a cozy place to retreat and develop the motor skills needed to deal with life. That day I ordered Avocados, toothpaste and Kombucha tea because I have no interest in sharing the act of shopping with others. I then ordered my laundry to be picked up because the idea of laundering with others now seems archaic. When I finally emerged to make my way to brunch I ordered my Uber because…don’t even start me on hailing a cab in public. No one does anything the same as everyone else anymore. Our bodies, our finances, our scathing hatred towards human interaction; they all affect how execute every action of life. Except shit. We all shit the same. We all must go to that room, to use that very special plumbing. There are no other location options, no fancy ways of doing it, nobody you can pay anyone to do it for you. In public settings, you all go to the public bathroom. That’s why so many great celebrity sightings happen over hands being washed.  This isn’t a new revelation for me; I’ve given this a significant amount of thought. Sometimes when I can’t sleep I google questions and look in my history when I wake up to see what I was thinking. One night I googled “why is blue cheese so delicious” at 230am. I also like to make sweeping assumptions and explore ideas with my sister via text.  Recently, on a sleepless night I posed the query, “isn’t it a little mind blowing to think that something as beautiful as Idris Elba probably takes massive poops all the time”.  My sister didn’t answer me that night. Maybe I find a certain comfort in the fact that some daily behavior exists that unifies us. In a society where we separate further and further from each other it’s not a crazy thing to be comforted by. Prove me wrong. Next time you are on the subway and that woman leans her entire body on the pole meant for hands and you imagine yourself roundhouse kicking her in the face; think to yourself “you know what, I pooped this morning, you probably did too. who knows we may even use the same brand of toilet tissue…we’re in this turbulent road called life together” and see if your tension doesn’t subside just a little bit.

One Eyed Fool

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Dear Beauty Marketers Stop making models replace one of their eyes with the product. I’m not a fool, I know her eye is underneath the product. I’m not sure when or why this trend gained traction but its juvenile and inane. Its one thing for drugstore brands. I expect drugstore brands to obnoxiously assume that […]

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The Miseducation

Amore Magazine UK

The Miseducation: What You Won’t Learn at FIT For as long as I could remember, FIT was the only college I ever enthusiastically wanted to attend. Back when all I knew about college was that because of this “college” enigma Saved by the Bell might be canceled when they leave Bayside. Add that to my […]

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Crazy Beautiful

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It started with drinks at The Tribeca Grand with my old clubbing buddy, who we’ll call Phoebe. We hadn’t seen each other in over a year and we spend the night knocking back Pinot Grigios and reminiscing about days long past of being chased by our cute club promoter/DJ/model pseudo-boyfriends down the cobblestone streets of […]

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The Guide to Overly Cool, Expertly Curated Boutiques That Will Ensure You Never Get Out of Debt.

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New York has no shortage of excessively cool boutiques. While we love our multi level, big name department stores, we have a special relationship with privately owned shops with personality. They all offer us something different, a unique edge. There is nothing quite like finding the store that matches you. The salesgirls, the music they […]

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Friends with Money. How to Happily Dine Out as The Poor Friend

FeastCrystalRennVP7

Ph. Terry Richardson | Magazine : Vogue Paris | Model: Crystal Renn It happens. Your girls haven’t been at the same place at the same time in months. The proposal for a dinner out to trash talk and bat our lashes is put on the table. Yay! Off to Open Table we go! And just […]

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The Go To Bar for When You Have Stopped Seeing Someone After Only a Few Weeks and You’re Not Sure Which One of You Ended it and You Need to Overanalyze it for 2 – 3 Hours with Your Girl over Vodka Sodas. This May or May Not Be a Personal Story.

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Wise Men, NYC I love the Bowery. Its one of my favorite places to be. DBGB is one of my favorite places to eat, Blue & Cream is one of my favorite places to shop and The Hole is my favorite gallery. Its just back to back fun The Bowery. Almost always back to back […]

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Using the Law of Attraction to Manifest The Balenciaga Cutout Boot

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Ask for the boots. Send the positive vibes out there. Ask with all the confidence in the world for the boots. Don’t specify when you want them just ask. Ask sincerely and be sure to voice your gratitude for all the wonderful boots you’ve been able to enjoy in your life already. Say something like […]

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Yogis, Young Entrepreneurs and Other Annoying Women Types to Emulate

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Here we have a rundown of women who are downright annoying. Chances are being a woman between 21 and 40, particularly in a big city you have at least one of each in your life. I’m Sorry and Congratulations. It should be made clear that all of these women are fantastic and you’re truly lucky […]

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