Hood by Air, once known only by streetwear enthusiasts for the brand’s graphic t-shirts printed with the word “Hood” has become quite a hot ticket at New York Fashion Week. Journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and editors from Vogue, W, and Interview sat on long benches furiously taking notes while countless others stood behind, bearing the crushing weight of the brand’s myriad superfans trying to get a better view. Hood by Air was a finalist for the LVMH prize last year and has had great success in the retail sphere. The brand’s designer, Shayne Oliver, is known for staging theatrical presentations and eschewing gender roles on the runway.
The show opened with what appeared to be a utilitarian grey jumpsuit but was revealed to be a smock, tied on by tiny bows and completely backless to expose the models bare derriere. The show went on from there toying with various forms of exposure but mostly exploring the theme of school uniforms and the lengths students go with customization to express their individuality. White button downs were cut, shredded and affixed with hardware, lopped off into cropped tops or dropped down and hung from straps as an off the shoulder top. Pleated mini skirts were slit for more skin exposure or deconstructed into hanging tiers. A suit was chopped up and strung together with zippers. Oliver introduced a soft palette of blush, cream, beige and silver and toyed with new fabrics like silk and parachute nylon. Chokers looked like house arrest ankle bracelets and backpacks looked like pillows, the better to nap with in class. The word “Air” was emblazoned on strappy-heeled sandals featuring cutout leather, perhaps an homage to the nearly twenty year old Nike Air More Uptempo slated to be re-released next year, a seemingly obscure reference that Hood By Air fans would recognize immediately. It seems Oliver actually collaborated with Nike on an exclusive version of Air Flight 89 sneakers which debuted on the runway in white and flesh, sure to be “copped” immediately upon release. At the end of the runway, the models sat down in chairs for “detention,” perhaps a punishment for having defaced their uniform, and when the bell rang, class was dismissed.
– Rachael Wang