Street-fashion gets grown up and billowy for Public School’s SS16 collection.
Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne have, in just a few short years, become New York’s most important purveyors of intelligently designed, monochromatic downtown-cool, serving up instantly popular menswear (and soon after, a women’s line) with a heavy sportswear inflection. Few brands so successfully embody the high-low, streetwear-meets-high-fashion aesthetic that has been so influential in recent times – the pair were even tapped earlier this year to lend some of their refined yet urban distinction to the imminent DKNY reboot.
When Public School’s show began earlier today, though, with a striking, floor length white dress complete with a notched lapel neckline that plunged deep, we could immediately see that a greater sense of elegance – a greater sense of formality, even – had informed this season’s collection than ever before. Make no mistake, those athletic elements that have so successfully found themselves at the core of the Pubic School look were still present, but they were integrated in wonderfully subtle ways: generously cut trench coats in slippery fabrics and flowing dresses were all seized in at the waist and hem with drawstrings taken straight from the technical anoraks and refined wool sweatpants of their gritty menswear collections. Their staple bomber jackets also made a return, but were fabricated this time in an embroidered, velvet-like material which seemed more ornate than urban.
For Him/For Her
It wouldn’t be a Chow and Osborne show without a hint of gender-play and, sure enough, a smattering of guys appeared on the catwalk. They blended seamlessly with the collection’s flowing mood in wide trousers and short-sleeve bombers, or in a gauzy, long t shirt that peeped out a few inches from beneath a tunic. The gently innovative menswear for which Public School are known certainly played second fiddle to the thoughtful women’s wear that was the focus this time around though.
When coats were placed over robes and then layered over dresses or trousers, hemlines cascaded and merged into a billowing flutter that defied precise description; where one piece ended and another began in some of these ensembles was not a question that needed answering, for it’s this disorientating fluidity of cut, this medley of voluminously draped fabrics that showed the diversity of what Public School can achieve. They can keep their tech-wear signatures – a full-length hooded waterproof was robbed of its sleeves so that it appeared more like a dress – but also produce tailored refinement in the form of a full-cut blazer rendered in silky pale blue and grey stripes. One long sleeved, full length piece echoed traditional men’s prayer robes, and even shimmered in translucent white with an almost angelic grace we never expected from the brand.
It’s an evolution for the duo, and an important one that ensures their longevity should streetwear’s popularity in fashion circles begin to wain. This is definitely Public School, but not as you know it.
Words: Benji Walters