Today I took a long walk over to 11th Avenue and 28th Street to visit a set of garment industry trade shows called The Train and Platform 2. This is the third season I have gone to see them and I am starting to get a sense of the atmosphere. The majority of the booths display rehashes of yesterlooks, but there are a few gems to be found. Here are the ones that caught my attention today:
Yes Virginia by designer Virginia Lato had some interesting coats. What drew me in most was the bits that had been made using lasers to cut leather. The detail was stunning, but they were also very light and flowing. An interesting technique with interesting results.
Stephan Pelger, a collection from Romania, included a simple black and white dress that featured a wow factor hand-painted twist in the front.
Nationalité Dada displayed fun things. Designer Edita Lupea was manning their small booth lined with unobtrusive animal design decorations, including an odd white bag with two wide tabs for closure. Another design element they were featuring was an infant wrapped in a blanket, because designer Joana Covalcic just had a baby.
One of the most interesting stops I made was at the KiKKa Fi booth. At first I assumed an asian influence, but after a moment it seemed more Asian influences by-way-of Frank Lloyd Wright influences. Designer Clara Longobardo has a background in theater costume design, and her sculpture and costume-inspired pieces are very dramatic, like street-ready opera costumes. The garments are very architectural, and can be reconfigured in innovative ways. They are all hand made in Italy. The best pieces are made in very limited runs because the fabric is so rare.
I then moved down to the Derri Design booth, where I found more of the laser cut leather pieces, also seen in the Yes Virginia line. Derri is a group of 200 Turkish leather manufacturers, and their clothing is designed by Italian Craig Leeson. This is their first collection released in the USA. They have clothing for men and women, including some very interesting spring jackets.
Next down the line was a group called Showroom New York. I was told they are sponsored by New York’s own Garment Industry Development Corporation. Showroom New York features emerging designers who produce their lines locally in New York. I met designer Deibe Rondon, an FIT graduate, who is one of several designers supported by the program.
Sticking out into the aisle along The Train’s long hallway was an elegant black dress by Marie Saint Pierre, of Montreal. The brand is 21 years old, and the garments show the designer’s experience. Very sculptural, all handmade in Montreal, with a lot of blacks and earth tones.
Elena Perseil, a French designer manufacturing in Romania, was manning her own booth full of hand made garments for the “urban woman in luxury.” She has a whole story going about her inspiration for the current collection, and says her summer looks “are about a woman who is loving and finding herself in India.” When I showed the look book to Freda Henry she said, “that’s not India, it’s Bali!” Regardless of the look book photo shoot location, Elena had some beautiful pieces with impressive details.
There are a lot of people showing handbags at these shows, but a true stand out was Wendy Stevens, with her stainless steel accessories collection. Each piece is handmade by Wendy herself, and she has been on this same kick for 23 years. Her “fashion touch” is changing the color of the leather bits from season to season. She said they have extreme durability, and I found the dedication to function inspiring.
Mirjana Scepanovic is a Serbian living in Toronto, and she has some interesting handbags as well. She says she always starts with geometry and takes an architectural approach. She is inspired by modern interior design, but mixes in a touch of the organic to add warmth.
Xenia Design of Croatia was displaying a cool crumpled trench coat. On the outside are lightweight abrasive metal fibers, and on the inside is a soft lining. It is weatherproof and very operatic. The designer is Ksenija Vrbanic.
I was just about to turn around and head out when I walked up in front of Taipei designer Sophie Hong’s display of easy-to-wear light natural silk, linen, and leather. Absolutely gorgeous clothing. She takes the rich historical Asian design aesthetics and brings them skillfully forward in time. Her pieces look like they belong among the most elegant steampunk “tomorrow is yesterday” garments. Each piece has a great collar and fantastic detail. Her fabric choices are top notch as well. This is what I want to see when I go to trade shows. Excellent craftsmanship, the designer’s unique voice, and detail that knocks your socks off. Thanks for ending my day with a “wow,” Sophie!