Hood By Air Spring 2017 Menswear Collection
Hood By Air makes things difficult. These images were shot days after its Spring 2017 show in Paris, a frenzied cruise in semi-darkness through a gay sauna in a seedy part of the Marais that culminated in a synchronized swim in the hammam’s subterranean pool (don’t think: Busby Berkeley).
The clothes were glimpsed only in passing, as models pressed against bystanders and then moved along. “We revisit things that people know about HBA here, like logo placement. Because it’s recognizable in the dark,” said Shayne Oliver postshow. “We push newer ideas forward in the light.” The light he’s talking about is Hood By Air’s biannual shows that are part of New York women’s Fashion Week, staged with increasingly polished production values (and, indeed, lots of lights). While Oliver himself is loath to put labels like menswear or womenswear on his garments, he understands the demands of presenting collections with those market restrictions. Hence the fact his Paris “shows” boycott the runway in favor of atmospheric locales and unconventional formats. “We just want to celebrate Hood By Air in the men’s market,” said Oliver. “When people are reviewing it against something that is very tailored, it feels weird . . . we’re not competing with them.” So what are these January and July shows all about for Oliver? Research and development, it seems; he talked about the garments acting as the reference for the show to be staged in September, also acknowledging the very real business behind this creativity—that these clothes will drop earlier, satisfying retailers with an advance delivery.
Almost like a Hood By Air recollection then, although the ingenious complexity of Oliver’s work couldn’t be further from bland commercialism. There’s something unsettling about what Oliver shows, often with implications of violence in the slicing, mutilated pieces distorting perceptions of the body within.