Brotherhood of the Wolf

So I remember nearly breaking my neck in hard bottomed shoes last fashion week to get to Chinatown from Lincoln Center.  I had swallowed a fair amount of menswear soup that week to last me through till dessert.  You know you're offered a generous helping of 'newcomers', then your 'well-seasoned veterans' and then your over-the-top 'just desserts'.  But what I got from this show turned out to be something more of a 'special of the day'.   It was something darker and more introspective that left me impressed with what I consider to be a notable growing segment of the designer menswear market.

Consider for a moment the recent film "Inception" where the line separating dreams and reality become a play on our senses.  Now, in walks in designer Austin Sherbanenko whose label Odyn Vovk (oh-din vah-k) translates to mean 'one wolf' and teaches people not to feel strength and power of self when alone.  In Celtic tradition the 'Wolf" symbolizes cunning, wisdom, searching, dreams, magic, transformation, death, rebirth and protection.  In other words there's a strength in the union of spiritual assistance and in the courage to seek and discover a deeper inner self.  Wait!  It gets heavier.  The Odyn Vovk Spring/Summer 2011 show was curated at the last minute bringing together random disparate objects and a musician who simply created music as the presentation progressed.  The models interchanged articles of clothing during the presentation and co-existed seamlessly with the random installation pieces.  The presence of the objects, the freedom of the models and the creation of live unrehearsed music on the spot were a kind of call for the attendees and participants alike to slip into the subconscious existence that drives our thought, challenges reality and brings us to the 'Inception-like' state.  Dreams still live while life creeps in.

Extremely heavy?  How about some fashion-speak to get back on track.  What Sherbanenko presented was a collection trying to appeal to the viewer in much the same balanced way in which the objects and music were approached.  The presence of randomness offered thinking outside the norm, introspection through interaction and a new found insight.  Vests, hooded sweaters, bombers and drop waist trousers were done in leather, washed cottons and crudely treated denims.  Some elements of each garment were mixed to create depth and layers like a jacket vest worn over a bomber or slim-cut hip length jackets with sleeves and bodices of similar texture but cut from different fabrics.  The interaction of the models reminded me of the nature of a capsule collection but on a grander scale.  The placement of the armholes on various garments coupled with the swaddling way in which knits merged with the loose trouser tops suggested that in this dream come reality, interchangeability is determined by the wearer and his consciousness through his connection with his space and company.

I have to admit that this was one of the cooler shows of last fashion week.  Collections that call upon the wearer to disconnect in order to find their place represent one of the cornerstones of design that speak beyond the pen and page.  It was darker and more like an interactive art installation; and I've long considered the ideas behind some designs to be just as or even stronger than the designs themselves.  Sometimes you need to look deeper into the mood board that has materialized into a collection with more than just a runway show.

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