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Bridging Fashion Stories in NYC 2024

Patrick Michael Hughes Senior Fashion Editor Men's Fashion Writer


New York City has always been full of migrants. Current citizens or seasonal people passing through have always come -from all areas of the United States and the world. Leaning into pop culture, one can make connections to famous fictional male archetypes who migrate in search of the promises of the city. Men such as the rural diner dishwasher, Jack Black from Big Spring, Texas in the 1970 Academy Award winning film Midnight Cowboy or Travis Bickle a disturbed Vietnam veteran turned cabbie who hails from an undisclosed rural town, in the 1973 crime noir film Taxi Driver. These highly regarded, classic films and characters continue to be relevant and reflect an ongoing reality of life in New York City.

Beyond the facade, expense and gentrification, city life is an engagement, with a gritty and sometimes unstable environment. In relation to New York it still manages to be seductive, a mythic refuge and an inclusive ideal. Each arriving narrative adds to the mythology.

WILLY CHAVARRIA is from Fresno, California an immigrant community of working class farmers. He has had a solid fashion career path which includes a senior positions at Calvin Klein to the winner of the CFDA's Menswear Designer of the Year in 2023. His runway collections are always socially engaged and are explorations beyond streetwear. The designer's craft delves into topics linked to what is masculinity? to what is subculture? His subversive context of fashion looks to Chicano culture with the flair sometimes associated with the Zoot suit. A fashion ensemble which is symbol of non-conforming rebellion and social defiance. It's style which asks why assimilate to Anglo-American norms. This was particularly true during the era of WWII patriotism, when so many were segregated, deported and second class citizens.

The Zoot Suit's long jackets, strong padded shoulders. wide lapels and high waist, fully fashioned pleated pants were born in Harlem. It became a northeren Black fashion statement. It was popular during The Great Migration of African- American's from the rural agricultural economy of the south to the during the nineteen thirties and forties. The look was known for its display of bespoke tailoring with touch of neon noir and deco flair, It was fashionable Saturday night Harlem clothing . What makes a Zoot suit Chicano is the incorporation of workwear details and fabrication. Harder wearing khaki gabardine and plaid flannel shirting with the addition of well cared for, wide leg, pressed denim trousers. Further nuances were in the details of wide brim western style hats, motorcycle leather jackets and black clothing items.

The Autumn/Winter 2024 -2025 WILLY CHAVARRIA collection was presented in a candlelit warehouse near the Brooklyn Waterfront, it was a triumphant success and a greatly talked about highlight of New York Fashion Week . The collection opened with a film written and directed by the designer Safe From Harm. The setting of the film is in a residential hotel with pealing paint and wall to wall carpeting. The diverse residents have an expression of frustration and pain with a wide cast of people and gender identities. The film concludes with a positive note in a church with reconciliation, a gathering of all characters expressing joy and making room for all people. The typography was also a stunning feature within the art direction.

CHAVARRIA's runway show was an empowered stride of people attired in a modern expression of self. The clothing stuck fairly closely to well tailored looks a style fans have grown to expect from the brand. There were beautifully tailored textiles such as Houndstooth, camel colored wool and large grade plaid. The jackets had a tremendously bold silhouette featuring big shoulders, wide peak lapels and double breasted closures. The sweeping coats were a western dusters meets an Edwardian rake. The desinger has a thriving bespoke business aware of the waste in fashion production.

Black leather jackets and coats were also notable in collarless styles and tremendous shine. Never far form the brand origins CHARVARRIA also featured dashes of streetwear with brass zipper closure hooded bomber jackets and gold piped track jacket styles. However, the star of the CHAVARRIA look are the trousers the cuts ranging from high waist to the natural waist. They were full and draped either dragging on the floor, cropped at the lower calf or finished at the ankle with a fitted cuff.



LUDOVIC de SAINT SERNIN partnered with The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to use the late artist's images as a source for their vision of beauty, the devil and subculture. SERNIN has long had an ambition to show a collection New York City during New York Fashion Week. His goal was to pay tribute to their American clients and an artist's they deeply admire. SERNIN is a Paris designer who was born in Brussels and raised in Ivory Coast, this was a collection of great anticipation and it lived up to the daunting task. It was an exciting moment during New York Fashion Week.

The collection was in many ways for SERNIN a thank you to another generation of Gay artist who helped them discover their own pathway of self discovery in sexuality, identity and as an artist. SERNIN has written "He allowed me to begin to understand my Queer identity and to think of sexuality as an evolution - a process of becoming an exploration activated by new surroundings . On discovering his work I immediately felt seen" ... "Mapplethorpe has been at the heart of the brand's identity since my first collection.." The designer's gravitation reflects the defining hub New York City has played for artists and Queer legacy and its history. The collection reflected a great admiration for the artistry of Mapplethorpe as well as the duality of fragility and hardened.

Mapplethorpe's still life imagery was seen in SERNIN's various textures and graphics. They were images of lilies, roses and tulips printed on sheer silk tops in light rose and black to polished chain mail in a deep red one shoulder drape and a black and silver halter style . The trousers were straight leg in leather with the brand's signature laced crotch eyelet closure and zipper front. The eyelet detail has long been a synergy between the two creatives. The collection also featured a look evoking Mapplethorpe's style as a young man living in the Chelsea Hotel with his girlfriend musician Patti Smith. Further eye catching details in the trousers include side seam openings revealing highly polished square toe boots. Sernin Mapplethorpe is much more successful than that of Raf Simmons 2012 attempt. This collection channels a narrative rather than simply printing photos on clothing. Sernin is living the psyche of experience.

SERNIN's reputation in fashion is for barely there clothing which has been shaking Paris Fashion Week since 2017. They are remembered for featuring wet flesh and leather making the clothing seem transparent at times . One of the topics during NYFW was does fashion owe Mapplethorpe a debt of gratitude for capturing subculture and sexual identity at a time when New York urban life was a particularly raw? Mapplethorpe along with Freddie Mercury and Rock Hudson were members of the Mineshaft a men only leather sex club which was open from 1976-1985. He photographed some of the members and posed in provocative self portraits celebrating his status within the fetish culture. The club's crime stories were the inspiration for the 1980 thriller film Cruising , where an undercover police detective has to find a serial killer who is stalking the S&M Gay Clubs in New York. The club's reality, mythology, cautionary tales and legendary membership still carry on in the memories, of a generation of Gay men, who lived through an era of AIDS and a time when organized crime controlled a large sector of New York nightlife.

The leather in SERNIN's Autumn/ Winter 2024-2025 collection was further homage to the artist and a changing Queer culture in New York City. Straps and lacing were fitted and well place on the body. The eyelet studded straps, harness like pieces and a laced face mask were all inspired by Mapplethorpe's lens. The boots in this collection are sure to be a huge hit with his client. The revisited fetish aesthetic presented an ideal bridge for a new generation looking to play and experiment. It's not a pose but a type of glamorous young person, just legal enough, with a lean sinewy frame, a Queer archetype. It's a modern fashion story for an emerging non -conforming, gender fluid generation, after an age of global pandemic and isolation against a backdrop shifting cultural geography.

PRESS IMAGES LUDOVIC de SAINT SERNIN - Press @lucienpagescommunication



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