story by Carmella Bella McDonald
photos by Charles Beckwith
Dominican Republic-born designer Jose Duran returns to New York Fashion Week with a historically-inspired show that deals with gender and androgyny, based on the mid-Victorian Pit Brow lasses; women who dressed in mannish attire and flaunted traditional female roles in order to support their impoverished families during the Industrial Revolution. During this period, women were prohibited from working in the coalmines of Great Britain. In order to support their families, women camouflaged their gender, wearing such non-traditional clothing as trousers, short skirts, mannish boots, and caps, they forged a life for themselves and their families.
Duran’s vision is a clever play on these historical themes. His designs included chunky layers of woolen tartans, split jackets, twisted turbans, and pooling silken transparent gowns. His monochromatic use of grays and blacks recall the historical black and white images of these unsung heroines.
Interviewed backstage, Mr. Duran revealed, “The lines are loose, non-structured.” “ I like my girls to look sexy and be a little bit tough!”
Mr. Duran’s use of a male dressed as a woman to further blur the gender lines seems to inquire, “who is really who?”
There is a certain edgy bravado in these questions, that combined with his enigmatic creations confirm Jose Duran’s relevant participation on the cutting edge of contemporary fashion.