We headed up E Broadway looking for “355” in the bitter cold. Walking past Starbucks, pizza shops and closed businesses, we finally happened upon a fabric store. “Is this right?” I asked my brother. I pulled out my iPhone and looked at my invitation for reassurance. Yes, this is 355 E Broadway. Yes, we are standing in front of a fabric store. Yes, there is a small sign that read “Outlaws Show Upstairs”. More people began walking up. Groups huddled together in bewilderment, exchanging glances and chatting amongst each other. While waiting, I took inventory of the group I was standing with: vintage oxfords, retro-framed glasses, wedges right out of Oak’s fall collection. I guess I’m in the right place. Through a crack in the door a voice says, “You guys can come and wait inside”. After checking in, they pass out cocktails strong enough to warm the spirit and the chest. As we are led upstairs, the music starts. Its Salem’s “Redlights”, a haunting, slowed down indie track that encapsulated the atmosphere and mood that awaited us upstairs.
We ascended into some kind of dilapidated attic space with battered wooden floors and an aging ceiling. There were unfinished and raw walls, paint peeling and torn wallpaper abound. The windows were broken and battered, held together with random strips of electrical tape. In the middle of the ceiling there was a beautiful glass skylight. There was no need for coat check, as it was cold enough to see your breath. There were playing cards and old records scattered on the floor, a lone record player and stool. Tea cups, Chinese lanterns and candles made the space much more intimate and feminine.
The models sat in deconstructed poses and lounged on sofas. They looked like broken down dolls, unaware of our presence. The color story was filled with fuchsia, deep burgundy, violet, pink, black with touches of eggshell and beige. One of the jackets was reminiscent of a kimono, belted at the waist with black cord and accentuated with violet trim. Many of the pieces focused on an exaggeration of fabric and shape. Coat lengths and vests were cut asymmetrically. Some pieces were cinched at the waist and then fanned out to increase volume. There were hoods on coats and thick scarves to add drama to the collection. The make-up was comprised of alabaster foundation, shimmer on the middle part of the lip, rosy cheeks, big lashes, liquid liner and shiny lids. Almost like a hybrid of a porcelain doll and a geisha. The atmosphere in the presentation space was decaying and weathered. The tea cups, party ribbon and records looked like memories from the past that were uncovered in an old trunk. The models possessed a doll-like quality which added another dimension of antiquity to the collection. There was a real sense of deconstruction and entropy.
While the clothes and mood were representative of the past, the attendees were very much of the future. In addition to traditional photographers snapping away, iPhones and Blackberries replaced Nikons and Canons. Twitpics were uploaded instantly, and critiques filled up users’ timelines. Instantly you become an armchair critic giving your $.02 to all your followers. Thanks to Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, information can be disseminated with the press of a button. Even if you were unable to attend, someone only needs to put an “@” before your name and you’re there.
Photos by RLCampbell Photography