by Citysearch Intern
Secret Project Robot's web posting about Williamsburg Fashion Weekend was ambitious. It boasted "a celebration of local designers who transcend the borders between art, music, and fashion." I pictured Steve Madden smeared in paint, playing guitar … a freakish, singing, artist-fashionista hybrid. Fortunately, this creature was not present, though Raul de Nieves, covered in purple paint and rhinestones (pictured above), came quite close.
Saturday, the night I attended, was a combination fashion-art-rock show that delivered on the promise of border-crossing goodness. The evening opened with several short sets by two weekend-only super-groups featuring members of local bands like Roxy Pain and the Pill. The boys wore leather pieces by Jan Hilmer. The crowd, composed of Manhattan jet-setters and people you'd see at a Todd P show, bopped happily to the music.
After a short break, we were invited through cardboard clouds and into a darkened room to view a performance of a different sort. Ladies wearing surreal, colorful costumes (designed by Raul de Nieves and Vashti Windish) and wigs crept around a maypole and did a dance to initiate the rites of spring. Then designer/artist/personality Raul de Nieves came out in a purple unitard and platforms with a big pregnant belly. He played the flute, flailed wildly about, and had a miscarriage. The ladies came back, and glitter was thrown. Clearly, this was the "art" portion of the night.
For more on the party and more pics ...
Back in the main room, Paige Wood's polished soul-rock formed the soundtrack for a more traditional fashion-performance. As the band played, hot-girl-next-door type models strutted around in Mandate of Heaven, Carissa Ackerman's line of vintage-yet-modern clothing made mostly from recycled vintage fabrics. Unlike at a "real" fashion show, the models appeared to be having fun, and at the end they all started dancing, which prompted members of the audience to do the same.
The night didn't feel at all like a fashion show. It was more like a love-fest of creativity. I know it’s a bit clichéd, but I really did feel like something exciting was happening. Where else but in Williamsburg could someone put together couture, performance art and rock music? When I remarked upon the eclectic nature of the event, organizer and designer Arthur Arbit confirmed that there is no single style that defines Williamsburg fashion, rather, "it's about the fact that the people who live here are free enough … brave enough … to wear what they want." Say what you will about hipster fashion victims, but in that moment, I agreed with him wholeheartedly.