Style & Fashion

New York Fashion Week

Barragàn presents a radical gender agenda at NYFW

The Daily Beast

September 9, 2016

Every boundary was blurred, creatively and mischievously, at the Barragàn show in the High Line room of the Standard Hotel: both received notions of “male” and “female,” and flowing from that what male and female dress constituted. All that mattered was Victor Barragàn’s clothes, which not just looked stunning, but also pleasurable and fun to wear.

They were designed to not only innovate fashion, they keyed perfectly into our times, and how gender and sexuality seem finally more full of options around self-definition and self-presentation. The audience at the show—one handsome person, who to the all-too-presuming eye looked like a young man—wore a pretty summer dress.

The staging featured the gender-blurring models standing in clumps facing the massed ranks of us attendees.

They were involved in an extended take on the Sisyphean task, interchangeably taking charge of a grey boulder made of foam, which they rolled up and down a little stage, and then up a small slope, before either giving up or rolling it optimistically towards a hole at the front of the stage.

The descriptions of the looks we were handed—“ruffle turtle neck body with leather pleated skirt,” “sleeveless leather trench coat with back pockets”—did not do justice to the good-crazy on display. The beautiful man in the sheer, sheathed black dress showing a lot of skin and with great ear-rings worked the boulder the cheekiest.

Another man had a plasticy-looking vest and a pair of black briefs. He was more serious with the boulder.

On other models there was a body-hugging top with black leather skirt, another top made of what looked like small wallets, and a slash of material across a chest, with luxe chainmail hanging from the neck.

The models’ outfits came in colors of all kinds, from utilitarian to bright orange, with some see-through material, and sometimes with a trouser leg missing.

After the show, Barragàn said his influence was “Military, with lacy, see-through clothes, and showing more skin with pockets.”

Ruben Gutierrez, his collaborator, and the show’s scenic designer, said: “We don’t think of clothes from a gendered standpoint, and that makes it easy to cast genderless models. We think of it from a neutral standpoint, mixing masculine materials and feminine materials. As a generation we have come a long way to accepting non-binary genders. For us, it seems pretty natural.”

He and Barragàn did not choose the models according to their gender, but their personality and look: mixing laciness and cargo-utility looks added to the genderfuck.

Gutierrez said the design influences came from the suburbs of his and Barragàn’s native Mexico, as well as punk and ’90s nostalgia. One sweater was inscribed with the lettering of the famous Friends logo, made over to read “Lesbian”: Gutierrez said he thought queer characters on ’90s TV had been made fun of, and this was his and Barragàn’s way to reinterpret that.

Of freeing up men and women from traditional modes of gendered dress, he said, “We know it’s not an overnight process, but by showing these pieces we hope we have made a step forward to entering the mainstream.”