RAG & BONE AW15’16 READY-TO-WEAR NEW YORK FASHION WEEK
Designer: Know thyself. If there’s one thing that this Rag & Bone show proved, it’s that brands are at their best when their collections poke and prod around their most deep-seated preoccupations. The latest Rag outing was a fluent re-articulation of familiar themes—classic menswear tailoring; sport, military, and workwear-inspired looks; innovative fabrications; an offhand, streetwise way of putting everything together. But label honchos David Neville and Marcus Wainwright found a new way to spin their signatures this season by integrating a hip-hop vibe. The influence of ’90s hip-hop was most apparent in the collection’s pops of vivid color, inspired, Wainwright explained, by a deep dive into the TLC and Salt-N-Pepa videos of his youth. “It’s funny how everything that looked kind of cheesy comes back around and seems awesome,” he noted, ahead of the show.
Indeed, that statement could be taken as a précis for much of this show, as indebted as it was to ’90s aesthetics. There were those colors, for a start, and the likewise hip-hop-influenced puffer jackets, but the ’90s-ness extended to the layering of lace-touched slipdresses and knee-length pencil skirts over pants nearly as trim as leggings, and then topping off the ensemble with a vast parka. Wainwright and Neville’s take on all those motifs was a good sight more polished than the original versions. Their pencil skirts in shiny nylon or Lurex knit were expertly cut; their outerwear was done in literally slick fabrications such as vinyl-coated melton wool and given the flourish of an oversize collar, a quilted military lining in a pop color, or a shearling-lined hood. The puffers were equally covetable—muscular yet chic.
All of which is to say, Wainwright and Neville were looking back at their adolescence, and their own recent archive, and viewing it through rose-tinted glasses. That was all to the good: They gave aesthetics in which they are totally fluent a notable upgrade, rendering them polished and modern, which is a better way of handling retro references than a straightforward homage. The Rag boys conjured a vintage attitude, but piece for piece, the collection looked new.