Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale of how a cult American designer made a highland culture look as cool as any metropolitan style aficionado stepping off the curb outside the Soho Grand. Quite possibly it's not a tale nor is it a legend. Well actually, it's certifiably not legend or tale since I had the pleasure of watching this merging of traditional ethnic lore with edgy downtown verve. The incident was the Fall 2015 show from that mysteriously macabre label that breathes refreshing fashion air into the New York fashion scene, Skingraft.
The collection that Christopher Cota showed from Skingraft during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week was in all parts amazing. Mr. Cota has always had an excellent knack for merging great concept with forward patterns and clever shapes and he's only getting better.
Inspired by the young nomads trekking through the Peruvian mountains and local legends of otherworldly existence tucked away in the Andes, there were all kinds of references to charting celestial bodies and subtle nods to the geographically linear.
The structural and almost liquid draped shearlings and leathers as well as wool jerseys and silks lent themselves nicely to the airy shapes in this collection. Cota showed linear hand woven patterns in modern poncho-like silhouettes, cascading and fly-away toppers and one sweet mens toggle coat that's sure to be an editorial and retail winner. He also created motifs out of leather with appliquéing on top of pieces for a nice textural monotone effect with depth. The treatment of leathers as second skins kept the dark aesthetic alive with Skingraft while the fluid and oversized shapes created silhouettes that were both pleasingly forward and pleasantly familiar.
What's always nice from a Skingraft show, and especially this one, is the presence of clothing that's seasonally relevant but also packs the punch of longevity. The concept is always there but not overly done or too literal to where it becomes costume-like or themed. That's a modern way to dress with edge while incorporating classic and progressive shapes. Not completely unsuitable for searching for extraterrestrials in the Andes or 2am cocktails in Tribeca.