Maison the Faux, a Dutch creative studio masquerading as a fashion house, presented its gender-bending, line-blurring fall and winter 2018 runway collection at NeueHouse on Sunset Boulevard Saturday night — well, on a loading dock behind it, actually — closing out the second day of L.A. Fashion Week’s three-day run of shows.
Dubbed “the Premiere,” the show was designed to look like the VIP scene outside a Hollywood movie premiere, right down to the arrivals red carpet underfoot and a logo-festooned step-and-repeat banner in the background. It was that backdrop that provided the first hint that things weren’t quite as they appeared.
Upon closer examination, what first looked to be the studio logos of Warner Bros., MGM, Disney and DreamWorks (among others) turned out to be tweaked to include the label’s name, and in some cases, the name of its collaborative partner for the show, Maavven (with choreography by Nina McNeely). The second hint came in the form of a dutiful, baggy-sweatshirted employee who spent an inordinate amount of time vacuuming every inch of the red carpet in advance of the show — with a vacuum cleaner that wasn’t plugged in.
The looks that came down the red-carpet runway reflected a similar combination of silly, sly and line-blurringly subversive. Think black and white two-piece outfits designed to resemble Elvis-worthy one-piece jumpsuits; pinstriped suiting fabric crafted into one-shouldered, one-sleeved evening gowns with sky-high leg slits; denim fashioned into glamorous strapless cocktail dresses; and trompe l’oeil trouser details that made it appear as if a good four inches of boxer short waistband had been hiked up above the beltline. Black binder clips (a secret weapon stylists often use to create the illusion of a perfect fitting garment for a photo shoot) held some looks together; cinching others into body-hugging silhouettes.
Bright florals (a big trend takeaway from the recently wrapped Paris Fashion Week shows) accented with pops of purple (another big Paris trend) found their way into voluminous tuxedo trench coats, trousers, zip-front jackets and sleeveless, asymmetrical-hemmed mini-dresses, and animal prints (a highlight of last month’s New York Fashion Week shows) prowled the catwalk here in the form of leopard-print leggings, diaphanous dresses and mini-dress/jacket combinations edged in cherry red patent leather.
The evening’s most memorable look — and one which perfectly summed up the is-it-real-is-it-fake-and-does-it-even-matter vibe of the evening — came by way of a model who hit the runway clad in a large rectangle of the step-and-repeat banner accessorized with a white belt cinched at the waist; the background brought to the foreground in the simplest way possible.
The blurriest line of all came in the gender department. Instead of menswear or womenswear, Maison the Faux has long described its garments as “humanwear,” and the fall and winter 2018 collection reflected that philosophy — see-through black tulle dresses and floral-print miniskirts that looked just as natural (if not comfortable) on the bearded men modeling them, for example, as the pinstriped trousers and tuxedo-inspired jackets looked on the women.
Designers Joris Suk and Tessa de Boer, who launched their wink-and-a-nod label at Amsterdam Fashion Week in 2014, have presented their last three collections at New York Fashion Week but decided to decamp to Los Angeles to premiere “the Premiere” collection.
“We like to play with what’s real and what’s constructed,” De Boer said after the show, “and L.A. seemed like a really good place to explore that.”
After watching the event unspool on the loading dock in the heart of Hollywood, complete with fake VIPs, make-believe paparazzi and carpet-crashing faux fans, I found myself wondering if what I had witnessed was a runway show or a piece of performance art — and if it made any difference to try and distinguish between the two.
Then it dawned on me, trying to pigeonhole Maison the Faux’s clothes into traditional menswear or womenswear would be an equally meaningless exercise. At the end of the day, it was all just “humanwear” anyway, right?