story by Lisa Radano
photos by Charles Beckwith
The room was dark, a-tonal, screeching wails transmitted by the D.J. pervaded the small space, and an eager crowd squeezed past a long platform atop which a double row of models stood still, frozen in the gloom. This was the scene at Katie Gallagher’s Fall 2013 presentation, aptly named “The Winter That Froze You Away.” With clothes bleakly named “Tundra Dress,” “Mourn Jacket,” and the especially harsh sounding “Frostbite Bodysuit,” one might assume melancholy or a bad case of S.A.D. had overcome the young R.I.S.D. graduate. She spoke about her search for the balance between autobiographical expression and universal appeal – and no matter the grim visions which may have pervaded her process, what resulted was a selection of 16 warm and wearable garments.
A multi-layered combination of black, navy and grey textured knits and wovens were used in silhouettes both Victorian and futuristic. Short jackets with peplum flare over full skirts, body-con sheaths both long and short, nubby tunic sweaters, faux fur and hoods galore swaddled and promised to shield the wearer from a climate crashing winter or just a very long line at Freemans. A jacket with twisting panels of plain and textured wool demonstrated Gallagher’s new direction “to create lines that move into one another and disappear.” The most alluring inflection was her “black ice” laser cut leather, used in belts at the hip and waist and most vividly as a wicked, twiggy ruffle at the end of a long sleeve, covering the hands like black veins. Despite the gloomy impact of her presentation, the designer made clear her belief that “out of darkness, new beginnings emerge from frozen memories.” That hope is innately with all of us in the cold winter months. At least in Katie Gallagher’s toasty layers, a slim or full figured woman can wait for the sun to return in some comfort.