New York - Designer Sander Lak's show for the Sies Marjan label ended with models parading around the courtyard of the glass-sheathed Lever House in Midtown. With their clear umbrellas held aloft and wearing Lak's glorious shades of ruby red, saffron, lilac and cantaloupe, the men and women offered a jolt of colour and cheer to passersby on a dreary grey day.
Here for your viewing and consuming pleasure: fashion.
That was the quiet message delivered in a spring 2019 collection that was both egalitarian and highbrow. The show began on the second floor inside the Lever House with the models strolling around an elevated platform in front of a standing-room audience. There was no elaborate seating chart. No pecking order of editors.
His models were a varied lot of men and women, old and young and of various sizes. In the audience and on the runway Lak erased the lines of hierarchy, the elaborate constructs of who is in and who is out, and presented a selection of clothes that was quietly, simply for everyone.
There were easy-to-wear dresses, jackets that could be effortlessly shrugged off and trousers with a comfortable looseness. He offered pinstripes in layers and quirky juxtapositions. And there was, of course, his signature use of colour, the painterly palette that has captured the imagination of an industry. Earlier this year, the Council of Fashion Designers of America honoured him with the Swarovski award for emerging talent. And while the label is just over two years old, it already has a clear and eloquent voice of optimism.
The word of the day in fashion is inclusivity, a philosophy that ranges from grudgingly adding a size 12 to a brand's range of offerings to transforming a runway into a kind of Noah's ark of humanity. Both extremes seem to miss the point that inclusivity really shouldn't be that hard. Mostly, what people want is for the fashion industry to offer a snapshot of a recognizable reality that is just a little shinier and glossier, that encourages everyone to dream.
There will always be curmudgeons who want fashion to be a mirror in the same way they want every fact-based film to be a documentary. Instead, fashion is a magnifying glass, a microscope, a telescope, a fun-house maze of reflections, a melting surrealist looking glass.
Lak welcomes everyone into his fashion world without fanfare or fuss. You may not see yourself exactly. But you will nonetheless be seen.
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