As live music energized the fashionably flavorful audience at Brooklyn Fashion Week, baristas brewed bubble tea and masseuses rejuvenated tired bodies to help them enjoy the vivacious ambiance. Couture enthusiasts waited, unconcerned by time—they only wished to see art in motion at the first of many runway events where designers show off their upcoming collections.
The attractions lent a carefree and energetic atmosphere to the Industry City warehouse space hosting the opening of Brooklyn Fashion Week on Thursday evening. The exhibition is a powerful statement of diversity, and it presents collections from all over the world, including Spain, Norway, and Africa.
Designs are not only culturally distinct, but also present different techniques that foster a landscape of fashion perspectives. Jerry Jordan Brown, one of the event’s directors, described the variety encompassed within the four days of style and expression: “We have … very whimsical, and then we have very avant-garde, and then we have very couture.”
Brooklyn Fashion Week is driven by theme, and for its opening Thursday night, the focus was eco-friendly clothing.
“People use natural fibers,” Brown said. “More the go-green type of thing.”
Erin Birmingham’s bridal wear ranged from Gatsby-esque glamour to siren bustiers and garters, embodying the versatility of the modern woman. Young and innovative artists from the Designer High School of Fashion Industry demonstrated a strong comprehension of the female form, using rich fabrics to create masterful lines and shapes.
Defranchis Doggy Couture lightened the mood with pretty puppies in their tasteful jackets, “Who Let the Dogs Out?” blaring in the background. One particular pup showed his ego with a prolonged pose for the camera.
The antithesis of dogs in sweaters, Andrea Fitzgerald pulled from history’s sexual iconography, celebrating the aesthetics of geisha and flapper costume. Draft Minerva took a rougher approach to style, with white, black, and red textiles mimicking graffiti while spikes, skulls, and clawed slippers added an aspect of rebellion and monstrosity. German designer Howareyou concluded the night with loose, feminine looks and menswear that evoked Barbie’s Ken.
Audience participation was encouraged throughout the show, and yells, sighs, and exclamations greeted models as they glided down the runway. The intimacy of the venue contributed to an engaged, active viewing experience. Unlike New York Fashion Week, with its elegant je ne sais quoi, Brooklyn’s interpretation did not remove the public from the fashion, but instead fused them as one.
“I think that the comparison is that there’s more diversity here in Brooklyn because it’s more emerging designers,” Brown said of the two New York City fashion extravaganzas.
His assessment is accurate: The myriad cultures represented in Brooklyn, as well as the ambition and lack of inhibitions of the grass-roots designers who volunteer their work, allow for a more fun, charismatic show.
“I think it’s awesome because you see so many different collections, so many different artists. Brooklyn’s all about the art for me,” Kenna Buchanan, a model for Erin Birmingham, said.
Indeed, whether in the show or on the sidelines, Brooklyn’s artistic persona comes across with a multifaceted presentation of what it means to be beautiful.
Brooklyn Fashion Week takes place Oct. 3-6 at 241 37th St. Student tickets are $10. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday.