No one could fault you if said that Hood By Air's Spring 2016 collection was more than a little weird. But in truth, it's that uniqueness of vision that's made the label something of a rising contender in fashion's highest circles. Let's look at it this way: locking down a show at La Philharmonie de Paris during Paris Fashion Week is no small feat. For HBA's Shayne Oliver, this is just another step on his self-made road to fashion notoriety.
Hood By Air is notorious for using the runway as a place for experimentation. Look at Oliver's details alone. We doubt that street style photogs will snipe guys wearing orthodontic cheek separators; or the words "icon," "coy," or "tear" glittered onto their faces in next seasons roundups.
But it's touches like this that—while perhaps not practical—remind spectators that fashion is as much art as it is business. Oliver's sending a message through his clothes. Maybe it's that recent CFDA award, but Oliver's growing up: providing plenty of truly innovative design work—just presented through his aesthetic vision.
The collection, titled "Galvanize", will surely do just that to the brand's ardent base. A mashup of individuals that range from VFiles shop staff to Korean pop stars. The group may be diverse as a collective, but they're all united by their love of what HBA churns out every season.
As far as the clothes go, it's clear that time in Europe has affected the way Oliver designs. Sure, the graphic elements are still apparent in the clothing (shouts to "HBA" turtlenecks and over-the-crotch logo'd denim), but it's also clear that HBA has picked up an affinity for quality tailoring. How else does one deconstruct a leather jacket, only to re-present it as something that fell out of the closet of a BDSM professional?
But don't be mistaken. Just because the runway looks aren't likely to be repeated on the street, doesn't mean that every garment doesn't show true talent, design, and technique. The beaded shirting is nothing short of time-invested detail work. Every piece of outerwear is an example that layering is as much about precise placement as it is about "putting clothing on top of more clothing." Even the purple ruffled shorts, while likely a hard sell to your average "fashion dude," is an impressive feat of fabric construction and manipulation.
But it's not just SoHo club kids that can invest in what Oliver showed this season. Simplified coats (in a sunny indigo and muted gray) really show that the designer can pull back as much as he's willing to cut loose—the latter seen in an oversized purple leather shacket.
Oliver's designs aren't for everyone. That's probably why his work feels so incredibly authentic. But with collections like this, it's a reminder that while Oliver is definitely catering to his base, but he's willing to stretch himself out of his downtown NYC comfort zone. One look at what Hood By Air showed at Pitti Uomo 87 should be evidence enough of this ongoing evolution. HBA is showing conceptual fashion design, much like any other brand presenting in Paris...just expect it to always come with a heavy dose of Oliver's own aesthetic.
Check out the full collection below.