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NYFW: Hood By Air SS16

Fun to look at, but even more fun to talk about. Shayne Oliver transformed the runway into an in-your face celebration of the marginalized at Hood By Air.

Happy accident

In seasons past, Shayne Oliver was something of an accidental designer – a figure in the middle of an important cultural movement that only incidentally seemed to involve fashion. With Hood By Air starting out as a community – individuals culled from art, nightlife, and music, all involved somehow with the disruption of the status quo along the lines of gender and race – the collections were premised more on an idea than actual fashion, with Oliver relying on gimmicks to build out the full scope of their pointed intentions. AW14’s voguing extravaganza, for instance, transformed the runway into an in-your face celebration of marginalized characters, while in SS15, models locked into Plexiglas prison stocks evoked enslavement in the 21st century.

New times, new rules

Fast forward to SS16. HBA has an incredible following, and the fashion industry is already familiar with its capital tenets: Now Oliver is in the position to concentrate on actually designing clothes. While earlier collections featured the HBA logo plastered aggressively on the front of every garment, the brand’s DNA now read in more varied and subtle ways: plenty of panels, cut-outs, and zipper play; masculine-meets-feminine shapes; and the general impression that Oliver repurposed a collection of straightjackets for everyday wear. Highlights included an X-shaped bandeau-style crisscross for a top, and pink patent pleated skirt fused to a matching pencil skirt underneath – the latter a wearable commentary on liberation and constraint.

Half made up and nowhere to go

Although Oliver has grown up and refined his design chops, it wouldn’t be an HBA show without a healthy dose of “concept”. The star in that department was the makeup – thick blotches of dark brown and bright white, which applied to the parts of the face where drag queens typically accentuate shadows and highlights, resembled the “before” stage of a before-and-after makeup contouring Youtube video. All in all, fun to look at, but even more fun to talk about.

Photographer: Aaron Laserna

Words: R.J. Hernández

NYFW: Hood By Air SS16

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