Area, Sukeina and PatBo sparkle on Saturday in New York
With sunny skies and mild February temperatures, Saturday was a good day to enjoy fashion. Despite three different viewpoints, Area by co-founders Piotrek Panszczyk, creative director and Beckett Fogg, CEO, Sukeina by Omar Salam, and PatBo by Patricia Bonaldi each shone brightly on their Fall/Winter 2023 runways.
The highly anticipated Area delivered another runway success with its Fantastic Fruits collection, which, as the name suggests, was based on sweet produce. That might sound juvenile, but it was anything but. Creative director Panszczyk went deep and dissected the symbolism of grapes, watermelon, and bananas, especially represented in art, which were imagined as fantastical creations to wear. The brand's execution of adornment has reached couture level; in fact, much of its collection is couture. Thus, the result was breathtaking.
A subtle hint about the organic theme was the hundreds of tiny plastic flies that dotted the columns of the room and the accompanying buzzing soundtrack. The show kicked off with bananas that immediately suggested Andy Warhol and Josephine Baker, which was spot on. (Show notes also referenced The Guerilla Girls, a feminist art activism group who used the infamous Warhol's bananas on the Velvet Underground album in their art.) Panszyzcyk turned the fruit—which has historically symbolized sex, death, and freedom—into crystal and beaded decaying fruits on skimpy wrap tops and miniskirts; jersey pleated flat bananas on a strategically strappy gown, or fashioned into 3D versions made from black velvet and ombre denim with sculpted 24K gold stalk cuts. The piece de resistance of the collection was a gown made from tiers of tropical fruit that created a pyramid-shaped gown. A denim version meant to evoke a fruit basket proved best on a mannequin, as the model wearing it almost stumbled several times while walking.
The watermelon, symbolizing life and love, abundance, and fertility, was imagined in 3D as well-most strikingly as a dress constructed from two half-moon slices in black satin, pink beading, with gold discs as seeds that surrounded the shoulders and legs in a box. The motif also became an exaggerated protrusion on a riff tuxedo complete with gold hardware 'seeds.' Never mind the season, the fruit also became charming bras and bandeau style tops paired with nether region skimming skirts that are probably already on request by PYTs in the entertainment field.
Grapes, a symbol of abundance, fertility, and indulgence, took a dark, sensual turn in Panszczyk's hands, becoming lace hosiery bodystockings in one rendering. In another, they were imagined as clusters of multi-colored pearls of that trimmed black dresses and an incredibly adorable black and white bra and men's brief inspired set that felt a touch, Chanel. Black Swarovski crystals on lack metal stalks encapsulated one look as a harness.
A stunning effect meant to evoke the concept of decay was the embroidered ostrich and rooster feather discs that covered several looks and became masks covering several models' faces. An 'A' logo print appeared on a body stocking and was conceivably a branding exercise; as fantasy as the Area runway is, the merch possibility is visible in each creation. Case in point, the brand debuted a 20-piece shoe collaboration with Sergio Rossi that referenced the Italian luxury shoe brands' popular silhouettes and adorned them with bits and bobs from Area's toolbox, such as crystals, feathers, and bows. The partnership shows that the Area world is expanding its offerings to expand it's business and profitability. As the one-time CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund brand launched in 2014, it's time the duo started enjoying the fruits of their labors.
Speaking of CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund participants, another rising star held its NYFW calendar show debut on Saturday. Omar Salam of Sukeina, in the 2022 lineup, showed a ready-to-wear collection that exuded a quiet elegance with a pop of frivolity to a room of top retailers and the press. It was a welcome sight to contrast some of the shows thus far with questionable taste and hijinks on their runways. Save for Coco Rocha in a black and hot pink gown, oddly bearing some comparisons to the dress she closed the Christian Siriano show in.
Salam focused on tailored outerwear adorned with heavy gold zip hardware that added interest without taking it into tough territory. Standout outerwear was an inverted cocoon-shape coat slash dress. Another covetable piece was the tailored double-breasted coat whose backside was a knit bomber.
He grounded looks with a base layer based on the white shirt collar and second skin knits, especially intriguing in sequin versions for a pop of glam. These worked well with a timely show of a pinafore, thanks to the resurgence of Wednesday Addams chic. Floral embroidery on wool suiting separates added visual intrigue.
Looks boasted as many as four materials slash textures. For example, sheer chiffon, thick wool suiting, paillettes, marabou trims with an Alpine feel, and a starched collar. Despite this, the result was not a riff on a hybrid theme but rather a new and welcome perspective by Salam.
Twenty years in and hailing from Brazil, PatBo by Patricia Bonaldi continues to attract social swans who wish to dazzle in bright colors, crystals, sequins, and the requisite marabou feathers. Besides a bevy of high-profile clients and influencers sitting front row, Bonaldi wooed Ashley Park of Emily in Paris and Elizabeth Gillies, who plays Fallon on the Dynasty reboot, perfect examples of the demographic for PatBo. Moreover, these pieces are executed deftly by the designer's highly skilled artisans from her native country.
With a touch of 90s nostalgia, the designer delivers heavily on the two-piece evening dress trend with options ranging from a bar top to a cropped turtleneck. Particularly exquisite was a teal velvet tube top and skirt with turquoise crystals. The fabric was also fashioned into the lone male look.
Bonaldi's seasonal print was multi-colored and had a carnival feel and was executed in beading and silk prints and often paired in sets, i.e., a sequin body suit and jacket. The brand has also attracted attention for its beaded, pearled, and sequined denim. This season embellished denim star was paired with a matching velvet jacket for a winning look.
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