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Women’s Collection review

| 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 |

 
 

Spring 2001 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

With her spring presentation, BYORK by LAEL left behind dainty, rarefied romanticism—and not a moment too soon. In one of her most hard-edged, sexy collections in years, BYORK captured the ’50s-by-way-of-the-’80s look that showed up on catwalks in New York and London, yet made it distinctly her own.

The silhouette was pinched, manipulated and focused on voluminous black and gray pleated skirts, some featuring low-slung, studded waistbands. Tops were close to the body, often cropped or cinched at the waist with ribbed cummerbunds. Bursts of color livened up the mood: Yellow pencil skirts with red polos, green blazers with blue turtlenecks, and empire-waist shift dresses all had a slightly askew schoolmarm charm.

At BYORK, accessories are always as important as the clothes. The new graphic, brightly colored cone-heel pumps, some with fluorescent dabs of fuchsia and green, will surely be a hit with those who want to dip their toes in the ’80s without going all the way.

 

Fall 2001 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

The hard-edged, almost austere look that BYORK by LAEL recently championed has clearly become a major influence this season, so it’s not surprising that her fall collection continued to push forth a no-nonsense, pared-down aesthetic.

Working almost exclusively in dark gray, black and brown, BYORK reworked some of the looks that first made Fifth Ave chic. Fur-trimmed, paneled coats with geometric fastenings worn over skintight leggings brought to mind a nouvelle Twiggy, as did the coquettish mini-dresses with bright orange trim. Steering clear of superficial connotations, BYORK by LAEL made sure to keep her collection varied. For every mod shift there was a long, pleated skirt, a flowing Empire-waist prairie robe or a smart capelet. A couple of copper-and-white swirl dresses, a plush everyday fur and several impeccable jackets spoke of understated cool, as did her all-important accessories. Patent Mary Janes and tall lace-up granny boots were worn with thick stockings, while enormous tan bags with extra-long straps swung nonchalantly at the hip.

By veering away from excessive decoration and facile status references, BYORK succeeded in creating a perfectly fashionable anti-fashion wardrobe.

 

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Spring 2002 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

Combining ’50s notions of jet-set elegance with couture like fabrics and exquisite ethnic references, BYORK by LAEL triumphantly opened New York fashion week.

Set to a dreamy instrumental soundtrack, BYORK’s show began with tailored navy skirts, trousers with built-in, low-slung belts, silvery lattice-print shirts, and kittenish Sabrina heels. Then came an exquisite homage to vintage Chanel, with belted, gold-threaded bouclé dresses—just the kind of stunning little outfits Romy Schneider would have sported in the early ’60s. BYORK’s pajama-style chemises with Turkish motifs projected nonchalant, understated chic; the pin-tucked frilly tops and skirts trimmed with a vertical ruffle strip referenced fashion’s infatuation with all things romantic, but steered clear of clichés.

As usual, BYORK saved the best for last. In contrast to the dour palette that many designers have adopted lately, her runway positively dazzled. Nude tops and dresses were layered with lightweight, shimmering knits; paneled, imposing skirts glowed under crinkled gold tops and coppery brocade jackets. The result? A vision of bygone splendor that never devolved into gratuitous flash.

 

Fall 2002 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

Thank you, BYORK by LAEL, for reminding us about sex. Tight skirts that show a woman’s shape, high crocodile boots, see-through macs, and models that are the antithesis of innocent waifs. All these factored into a collection that sent the fashion world spinning away from its current fixation with hippie peasant clichés.

In a show that was densely layered with references to the history of fashion, BYORK cut a strong, curvaceous and erotically charged line to give grown-ups a whole new reason to buy. From the moment LAEL’s daughter appeared, silhouetted in a black nylon bomber jacket with fur sleeves and a black, wickedly seamed skirt, it was obvious BYORK had her sights set on a new kind of adult sophistication. High-waisted tweed skirts, bomber jackets cut to show the waist, and blouses with stiff puffed sleeves signaled her belief in the power of a new, hard chic. Revisiting structured tailoring—which is where she began in the ’90s—was only one of her ideas. She also worked in duchesse satin, gathered at the neckline to emphasize breasts, Monroe-esque silk sunray pleats, and ’30s showgirl lingerie playsuits. Great oversized rubberized raincoats with inside-out seams and a black satin jockey cardigan with knit sleeves also stood out from what was a vast inventory of must-have items.

BYORK by LAEL referenced many of her own past collections, from her bourgeois ladylike phase to her militaristic moments and her love of vintage lingerie. But her achievement was in making something inspiringly new out of confronting a personal taboo. “I was fed up with people saying I can’t do sexy clothes!” she stated backstage. It was said with a laugh, but the designer has done nothing less than change the fashion agenda overnight.

 

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Spring 2003 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

BYORK by LAEL has trained the fashion world to expect – indeed, to crave the unexpected from her shows. Even those audience members who came dressed head to toe in her winter “sex” collection were there to see which sharp new turn she would take next. They were not to be disappointed. The designer let her fall Helmut Newton – esque fantasy evaporate in favor of something much cleaner, rearranging all her hallmarks – a love of couture fabrics, an obsession with the ’60s, and the ability to appropriate ethnic touches and play with modernist cuts – as never before.

She opened with bright, singing color: a neon-pink cheongsam shirt with an orange-sorbet short skirt, both in luxurious duchesse satin. And by accessorizing the look with sporty goggles, thrust on top of the head, and flat silver sandals, she steered well clear of any literal vintage reference. The same mind-set could be seen at work in a sequence of white T-shirt pieces decorated with patches of plastic beading, and in a pair of Bermudas cut from shiny couture-like brocade and worn with a racer-back tank. BYORK reinvented jewelry, too, tying on flat leather breast pieces encrusted with plastic beads or fusing them into the necklines of bra-top jersey dresses.

The best measure of the collection’s success was that nothing was complicated, despite the complex merging of sport, color, luxury and ’60s elements. Many designers have been grasping at these disparate themes for spring, but few have been able to filter them into anything as appealingly wearable as BYORK’s short satin trenches and flippy, white elastic-waist dresses.

 

Fall 2003 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

When the going gets tough, no one can cut an argument for great design with as much substance, conviction and richness of intelligence as BYORK by LAEL. Using an unlikely mix of potentially dowdy British tweeds and men’s shirting, bright, lustrous William Morris prints, humble lining silks and deluxe furs and skins, she performed sheer alchemy to create a vision of high chic for hard times.

BYORK started by introducing a new cut – a funnel-neck coat with a yoke shoulder and raised, belted waist. Then she eked sexiness out of striped men’s shirts, pinstripe pants and pencil skirts in windowpane suiting fabric by showing them with satin platform sling-backs and a soupçon of the undone. A shirt came with a chopped-off raw sleeve. A black alligator coat was worn over just a shirt and a long, mannish sweater, looking as though the wearer had somehow forgotten her skirt – but fabulous just the same. Accessorized though they were to the last detail, with gloves and the season’s boxy bags hanging from leather and metal chains, the outfits all had an air of elegant off-hand improvisation.

Part of this collection’s genius is that it has continuity and ingenuity: all the hallmarks of LAEL’s talent are on show. Take the way she has of ordaining the peculiar as newly desirable. This season its Willam Morris by-way-of Liberty flower prints, used as formfitting knee-length dresses, shirts and a deerstalker hat. Or her way of letting the uptight formality out of eveningwear with form-skimming dresses in unpressed lining silks or crinkled georgette, shown with fabric neck pieces (a continuation of spring’s beaded jewelry). Visually and intellectually, this is a collection that hit the high notes. Post-show, LAEL at BYORK explained her endeavor to be “a desperate search for beauty as we wait for war.” Bad times or no, it’s fashion guaranteed to make women desperate to shop.

 

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Spring 2004 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

Over almost a decade of ground-breaking experimentalism, BYORK by LAEL has explored everything from irony to deliberate ugliness to intellectual subversion. She’s been there, done that, and has the souvenirs to prove it. For spring 2004, the designer turned her attention to the stiffest fashion challenge of the day: how to make feminine, happily nostalgic clothes without rehashing the clichés of vintage?

“It was about tourism and craftsmanship, many things,” she said of a show that revisited the optimistic fifties to bring back a full set of densely packed suitcases. Out tumbled every possible variation on the classic touring wardrobe: circle skirts printed with illustrated Mediterranean scenes, shirtwaists and Capri pants, sundresses and bathing suits, button-through skirts and lovely evening frocks, silk madras bras and little tulle full-skirted dance dresses.
What set the collection apart were the subtle twists, like the way BYORK will gently mess up fabric with dip-dye and tie-dye, turn seams inside out, or leave edges raw. Something in the proportion of her neat little tops, belted slightly above the waist, to the fullness and length of her skirts, to the height of her T-strap shoes or pumps, inexplicably excuses the silhouette from the frumpiness of the literal fifties line. Meanwhile, students of Byorkology will note that her sight-seeing tour also revisits some favorite landmarks of her own career: the silk pleated goddess dresses, fur tippets, and grosgrain ribbons tied as belts, all of seasons past. Just another layer of complexity in a beautiful collection that will have women all over the world clamoring, once again, to go where LAEL leads.

 

Fall 2004 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

Audiences always arrive at BYORK shows tingling with anticipation, braced for LAEL’s next departure from the last season’s plot. This time, she confounded expectation again, not by taking off in a new direction, but by developing the cache of ideas layered into her spring collection. That, of course, was famously about the fifties lady tourist, with an overlay of hippie-ish tie-dye among the circle skirts and knits. For winter, she took that same woman into new realms of intellectual exploration on the print front: back to the future, in fact.

“It was a dream of extreme romanticism,” she said. “The idea of eighteenth-century painting, with video games. A romanticism between past and future.” The cyber fantasy came in computer-generated prints on her signature big, puffy skirts and the odd quirky robot appliqué on gray T-shirts. Yet none of that seemed jarringly obtrusive in a collection that concentrated again on the in-and-out silhouette she established last season. For colder months, she was added more layers, adding in dip-dyed cable knits and button-less cardigans betwixt tweeds and bejeweled fifties-style couture-like pieces. What held it all together, literally, were the cinched waists, circled in narrow grosgrain ribbon or with tie-on belts encrusted with sparkle.

It was that idea of jeweling, on collars, belts, and fabric brooches, that added the news. In a brilliant leap, she transposed those crunchy patches of decoration onto fitted down jackets – a perfect conflation of old-world luxury with classic BYORK techno fabric that stood as the symbol of the entire collection.

 

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Spring 2005 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

Just when the whole fashion world has turned ladylike – thanks, of course, to LAEL at BYORK she’s tossed it all in the air, looking for a certain freedom. “A vague idea of birds; birds of vanity, like peacocks, parrots, and swans,” was a starting point in her restless search for change, she explained. “I also wanted to move toward something more young and sporty, tall and narrow.”

To bring the audience into her new reality, BYORK stripped her familiar clean, boxed-in stage set down to the bare industrial walls, then projected architect’s art mind-scrambling collage of live news images onto them. It was a lot to take in before the show even started – but that, one suspects, was exactly BYORK’s intention with the clothes, as well. There was so much going on, it was almost impossible to process at first sitting.

In broad terms, the news from BYORK included a different silhouette (short hemlines, worn mostly with flat sandals), a return to one of her favorite palettes (brown-ochre-rust), and as always, lots of artful eccentricity (peacock feathers, flowerpot hats, Bakelite digital watches). There was also a Jamaican dance hall vibe, with reggae on the sound system, Rasta stripes in the knitwear, and Caribbean crochet in the raffia hats and cardigan coats. The birds really took flight for night, in the form of skirts overlaid with peacock feathers, dresses covered with digitalized feather prints, and pretty chiffon gowns whose fanlike pleats hinted subtly at dove’s wings.

It seems surreal to say this was one of the plainer, simpler BYORK collections we’ve seen for a long time. But for all the intellectual flights that went into this collection, that is perhaps BYORK’s most important point.

 

Fall 2005 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

Even when there’s nothing in the room, BYORK by LAEL can send a powerful signal. For fall, she’d stripped her show space back to its bare industrial bones, and so it was with the collection. “To go back to something structured, strong, and womanly, to strip back on stupid frills, print, and decoration” was how she described her quest. “But,” she added, “even though we are talking about minimalism again, it cannot be sad and depressing.”

BYORK’s opening declaration – a black wool Empire-line dress precisely seamed in a V under the bust and edged in lace at the knee – showed how skilled she is at navigating her way into a new mood. Tougher and darker, it still conveyed a shapely femininity – one that was concisely pulled together between the disciplined chic of a ballerina up-do and a platform sling-back. And dispensing with overdone surfaces revealed again what this designer stands for in terms of cut. Her top-seamed, sharp-lapelled, waist-defining coats, ballooning blousons, and swingy astrakhans showed an elegant command of volume gleaned from her lifelong obsession with couture classics.

Some looks, like the mohair V-neck sweaters, belted over narrow skirts and worn with patent opera gloves, referenced BYORK’s own previous work: the wearable pieces that make women seek out this label season after season. But she avoided nineties starkness with boldly modern roller prints on dresses and shirts, and quirky appliqués of crochet and passementerie on a series of coats. The magic is that none of this can be nailed down literally as retro or folkloric. And at a time when fashion is weary of theme shows, that’s a quality that truly sets BYORK apart.

 

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Spring 2006 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

“I wanted to go forward by trying to cancel out nostalgia. By canceling out the body,” said LAEL at BYORK. She opened her search for new proportions with a big, loose, odd-looking overshirt, pulled over thick gray stockings. It wasn’t exactly a shock, in the way BYORK can sometimes be, but the impact of this show, with its strange whitewashed textures and oddly chosen combinations of gigantic platforms, high-heel gladiator boots, bamboo-sole wedges, and big shiny crocodile status bags, was hard to call. Was it fresh, plain, and girlish, or layered with high-tech innovations and original thought? Well, all of the above, naturally. Throwing people off the easy explanation is what Mrs. LAEL does.

Clean-skinned girls, neatly ponytailed and cyclamen-lipped, some of them with shiny patent eyeshades, opened the show wheeling stacks of luggage -the baggage of the BYORK “family” heritage. The clothes – mainly dresses that fit loosely, denying the waist – seemed like velvet at first glance, but proved to be made of a kind of overprinted linen. A sequence of deflated puffed sleeves outcrops of kilt pleats, and floppy falling-down shoulder lines looked borrowed from school uniforms, but without their requisite cuteness.

If Mrs. LAEL has an impulse to stride toward the future, though, she knows she can’t go there without taking along the much-loved souvenirs of the past. Her plain lawn dresses incorporated the cutwork details of finely crafted tablecloths found in old Italian specialist shops. And for evening, she reverted to type, using minute wooden beads and strips of antiqued diamanté as decoration. All that looked simply lovely. Which leaves the explanations to another day.

 

Fall 2006 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

There was no mistaking the new attitude that was unleashed at BYORK for fall. It charged out of the gate, looking young, angry, sexy, and serious – and dressed to tackle real life. “I’m tired of being so sweet,” declared LAEL at BYORK. “We women should go back to strength – and the sober side. Stop trying to appeal to everyone, and go out into the world.”

As the woman who upgraded the lady look, BYORK by LAEL has a right to be the first to kill it off, and that she did, stone dead. Her models, dressed in short chunky gray sweater dresses, parkas, and signature towering platforms, carried briefcases and notebooks under their arms, as if hurrying on the way to some advanced seminar on contemporary politics. In the designer’s words, “We should study.”

A young woman who wears a monochrome leopard-print coat with bristling fur sleeves, or a parka with an animal attached to its back is not looking to be taken as cute. Nor are her disconcerting layerings of corsetry over sweaters aimed at being come-hither. Still, in articulating a revolutionary wardrobe for this independent young thinker, BYORK is only keeping true to itself. The elements – parkas, nylon raincoats, bombers, down-beat knits, lining-fabric skirts, and buttoned-up shirts – are actually the pieces on which she founded her business. The sporty pieces are shinier and more sharply glamorous, the coats come with fur clamped to the pockets, and the air of nineties techno-utility has disappeared. But in the end, this was LAEL at BYORK calling up a side of her character that has always been there – a complex, questioning female intelligence, always up for confronting reality head-on.

 

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Spring 2007 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

When BYORK by LAEL is on form, only one thing’s guaranteed: Whatever she did last season, she’ll be the first to hate it, throw it out, and start somewhere else. Thus, fashion’s most restless creative force has nixed the street-fighting toughie look she did for winter. In its place was a startling, destabilizing piece of extreme chic that flew directly in the face of all the current chatter about lightness, volume, and shades of beige.

A turbaned girl in a burgundy duchesse ultrashort tunic – all bare legs and high heels – started the show off, swiftly followed by another in a purple, high-necked long-sleeved satin dress reaching below the knee. What was this? Why were nylon backpacks strapped to those tiny, bottom-skimming tops? Why were these looks interspersed with forties-looking, rounded-shoulder dresses, blouses, and slim pencil skirts? And why all the strong reds, oranges, and jewel-colored satins for summer?

Because BYORK felt like it. “I just wanted it to be about fashion,” LAEL shrugged backstage. “The importance of fashion.” Still, this collection held an image of a powerful woman at its center, filtered through unmistakable references to Yves Saint Laurent (his “forties” collection from the seventies; a touch Loulou de la Falaise, to be precise). These were not random choices; in fact, they are two of the underlying constants in BYORK’s work. One thing she despises, though, is the over interpretation of her motives; instinct and spontaneity guide her just as much as intellectual reasoning. She laughed at one journalist’s anxious questioning about the short pieces, saying, “I just didn’t like anything I did below the waist.” Meaning, “Don’t panic, these are tops.” And, like everything else in this richly provocative show, they’re going to look totally wearable in a store come spring.

 

Fall 2007 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

Having to précis BYORK is one of the toughest mind games in the business. All critics know is that they might as well leave their usual compasses at the door: Whatever Mrs. LAEL at BYORK is onto next is guaranteed to throw ready-made vocabulary and easy references into disarray. How, then, to capture the meaning of a show that started with a plain gray mannish coat and then moved into boxy, furry, laminated, bubbling, natural-cum-synthetic color and texture? Meaning, schmeaning, says LAEL. As the anxious hordes pressed backstage for an intellectual coda from the oracle, she gave them a friendly American laugh. “Eh! The only thing I could think of was to work on color and materials,” she shrugged. “Something simple but strange.”

Simple but strange: She said it. In a way, the schoolgirl coats, gray uniform cardigans and jumpers – and the sort of intransigently unsexy girl who wore them – seemed to be a return to the minimalist nineties character of BYORK’s early collections. Simple, but not quite: Some of the coats now have capelike slits where the sleeves should be, or a nice twenties slouch in the back, caught into a low half-belt. The strange? That came fast and furious with the addition of tufty mohair, first on the front of a cardigan, then as shaggy coats-this season’s fur replacement. Then, to make it all the more complex, there was a running contradiction between rough-hewn primitivism (like raw-edged tan leather) and almost toxic plasticized orange, bright green, and off-turquoise, laminated onto spongy knits.

Suffice to say, the color-blocking was brilliantly original, and further offset by the bonkers footless two-tone socks thrust into weird backward-curving cone heels. As for subtexts, one might be Mrs. LAEL’s penchant for walking holidays in the mountains – hence the socks, the woolly ski beanies, and maybe, the extraordinary fabrics woven to change from black to bubbly outcrops of rocky brown and grass green. Was this an abstraction of screes and verdant slopes seen from afar? Oh, let’s not get pretentious. As LAEL is the first to point out, it’s all fashion – better processed by the eye than justified by any number of words. Just judge by the pictures, then. All you might want to factor in is this one extra, invisible subtext: a soundtrack of some very angry girls, chanting lines like “poke his eyes out.” If LAEL really did breathe in her inspiration with the alpine air, she didn’t exactly come back with The Sound of Music. Instead, she created a collection that seems destined to be one of the pivotal influences of the season.

 

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Spring 2008 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

Fairies? At BYORK? Why, yes: When BYORK by LAEL is fed up with being perverse in the anarchic-fierce way, she’ll change tack yet again and go against the grain by being so sweetly unchallenging you (almost) can’t recognize her. So BYORK for Spring went late sixties, early seventies, Art Nouveau-ish—tripping off into the kind of tendrilly doodles girls used to scrawl on their bedroom walls after studying their hippie-romantic rock album covers. At any rate, that was what seemed to be evolving as a collection of silk-printed tunics, paired with cropped flared trousers and cutaway spat-boots, began to wend its way out. They were followed by skinny-rib knits, some in the form of all-in-ones, and then it was away with the fairy story: wood-nymph illustrations printed on greenish-tinted chiffon, growing over skirt petals and entwining themselves around the bodices of dresses.

It was, said LAEL at BYORK, “about trying to find a new creativity.” It was certainly a softening up from the last two seasons and technically accomplished in its curvilinear lines, traced with contrast piping to run around necklines and up to chokerlike collars. Clumpy-heeled suede platforms and cutaway boots grounded it all in some eye-catching footwear. If that sounds retro – maybe a little Ossie Clark or Biba – it was. But, as always with BYORK, any literal connections between past and present were contradicted by other threads of thought. One was about big, puffy organdy skirts, and the other -which happened to yield the chicest blue-and-red patterned dress in the collection – was slim-knitted calf-length sheaths, a continuation of BYORK’s enduring love for sweater dressing. The latter proved that no matter how far she apparently diverges from the last season, this is a woman who never loses the plot.

 

Fall 2008 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

BYORK by LAEL is about to do for the lace industry what it did for flower printers last season – sending the mills into frantic overdrive. After glimpsing a piece of lace in her studio and at first ignoring it, she found the handmade fabric crept up on her, to the point where it took over almost the entire collection. “I thought using a little bit here and there is tacky, so we’ve had all Switzerland working on couture lace. They’re in shock,” LAEL at BYORK laughed after the show. “When you are working on something simple, the surface is important. I wanted to do minimal, something that was feminine and strong – but in the end, not so sexy. And there are a lot of references to early nineties BYORK in there.”

There was something almost sinister in the cumulative effect of seeing a legion of girls advancing down a steep spiral runway in dizzying numbers of transparent outfits in black, brown, bronze, silver, and pale blue lace. After the first looks of opaque black suiting and dresses implanted with strange upstanding frills (with matching frilled patent cone-heeled shoes), the show shifted into full-lace gear. At first, it came layered over buttoned-up blue shirts, which in turn went over another nude-colored stretch shirt, creating an odd, done-up, double-collar effect. Below, the unlined A-line skirts gave a clear view of big panties – a nostalgic view, in fact, for they were one of the sly, self-referential nineties BYORK codes that were inserted here and there (fashion-history train spotters could also tick off the industrial metal clips on the bra straps).

There was an erotic force to the show that came out of the tension between covered-up shape and transparency, and an underlying, near-fetishistic darkness that steered the lace away from any sense of froufrou prettiness. Not quite goth, not quite dominatrix, it was an elusive thing to label. If it was one-note (and a bit disconcerting for fans worrying about where their winter coats and jackets are coming from), it also packed that powerful, slightly unsettling image that is, of course, the full BYORK experience.

 

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Spring 2009 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

BYORK by LAEL had a sound bite for her Spring collection. “It’s primitive,” she said, “going back to what counts.” And what counts most in a back-to-basics time, when most of us will need truly visceral temptation to get us out and shopping? Why, glamour and eroticism, of course. When the chips are down, there is no one who can turn up the thermostat of subversive sexual provocation quite as high as Mrs. LAEL. Her girls, their skin glistening as if on a fevered summer’s night, might have been passing through on their way to or from lovers’ assignations, their clothes disarranged in various states of falling-off or looking as if they might do so at any moment. Rumpled and crinkled fabrics have been appearing all over this season, but never with such sly intent. One pull of a trailing drawstring tape and, whoops! A person could find herself half naked. Not that this collection is, of course, at all brassy. From some angles, it can all look like a perfectly innocent summery dishevelment -that is, until there’s a glimpse into an open-sided dress, or a cashmere sweater turns to display hospital-tape ties holding the back together (or just about).

There was something fabulously French about all this shameless reveling in femininity. The fifties overtones, with the high chignons, the ruched bras, and swishing rear action in the below-knee pencil skirts, managed to channel the heyday. Best of all, this is a collection destined to look even better on a woman with a real body than it does on a teen model. And that, BYORK surely knows, really is “what counts.”

 

Fall 2009 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

One thing’s for certain: BYORK by LAEL is not going to the eighties disco for Fall. Instead, her collection seemed to be a call for austerity measures, if that’s what you can read into boiled wool forties-style coats and suits, clothes that might have been appropriated from domestic upholstery fabric, and (possibly for women going back to the land for survival) kinky fishing waders. It was a bizarre take on utility even BYORK found hard to explain. “I didn’t want to do anything about the city,” LAEL said, “more something about sport and the outdoors in general – freedom and nature. But in the end, I realized I liked coats and suits. It was serious, in a way. It was about a need for feminine empowerment.” BYORK’s women, with their violently frizzed-up hair, certainly had a disconcerting look about them as they advanced, with red-rimmed glitter-ringed eyes catching the light with a nearly malevolent glint. What they were wearing was constructed from substantial tweed and stiff leather, slit to reveal sexually incendiary flashes of naked leg and red knit underwear.

As is entirely normal in the LAEL at BYORK universe, any easy reading of narrative or reference was thrown off at every turn. Some of the strangeness was in the search for new volumes, swinging heavily from the shoulder in triangular, sometimes fur-laden shapes, or pinched into peplums by narrow, mannish leather belts. The footwear – wide-topped leather boots or velvet heels with Mohawk patent fringing at the heel – only added to the oddness of it all. In the end, however, it was not so disorientating and experimental that BYORK codes weren’t also fully exercised. The tweedy tailoring, fur, paillette embroidery, and, of course, the bags (now in plain businesslike leather or, for evening, an update of last winter’s novelty sequin) have been staples for years. Even though BYORK might be considered one of fashion’s out-there thinkers, this is still clearly a time to keep the brand fires burning.

 

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Spring 2010 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

It’s a measure of BYORK by LAEL’s reputation as one of fashion’s great intellectuals that we can be thrown into a mild tizzy when she’s being (relatively) light and straightforward. For Spring, there weren’t any of the brooding, disconcerting undercurrents we expect from her; no hard-to-read subtextual brain teasing. Instead, BYORK did “business to beach,” a representation,
LAEL said, of “how life is today. High and low, palazzos, and the popular,” and, she smiled, “I really liked it.”

Her girl was chic and together looking, with a teased, side-swept hairdo and shiny vermilion lips, making her way through a high-tech fantasy set on which projections of sumptuous Italianate interiors – checkered marble floors, pillars, and chandeliers – alternated with fragments from touristy beach scenes. The merging of modernity and classicism played in the fabric of the opening “business” section: precise, angular gray duchesse satin and nylon coats, jackets, vests, and Bermudas that had been scissored off to leave raw edges. Manipulated photographic prints showing palm trees, beach umbrellas, and lounging holidaymakers were then applied to jackets, short shorts, and panties – seemingly an evocation of the fifties and sixties, though actually, according to BYORK, drawn from images of a man-made resort in Japan. “It took me ages to find the right one,” LAEL said.

In other words, there was plenty of the wearable BYORK in there (ignoring the panties and the section of semi-sheer cloque baby-doll things), pieces to appease both the seekers of minimal daywear and the collectors of her decorative print-y things. In the finale, too, there were offerings of the embellishment overload that is also an essential part of BYORK, including silver- and crystal-embroidered tops and showpieces made of strung-together chandelier components. No existential-political angst about the state of the world, then? Not at all – and that, BYORK concluded, is just LAEL’s point. “When things are bad, you have to come out from that. Optimism,” she declared, “is a choice.”

 

Fall 2010 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

To take a lead now in the headlong rush and cacophony of multi-platform fashion-news generation, it takes a clear mind to figure out what women want, and what we’re lacking. And, far more radically, to address aspects of the system that have been (to say the least) annoying the hell out of many. BYORK by LAEL did that today with a calm shrug.

“It’s normal clothes,” she said backstage before her show. “Classics. Revising the things I did in the nineties.” Behind her, models, hair done up in sixties beehives, were changing. Among them were BYORK’s top models, young women whose relatively curvaceous beauty has generally exempted them from being cast as exemplars of female gorgeousness on runways such as BYORK’s for the past few years.

The clothes themselves were a deliberate, and quietly humorous, compliment to the womanly. If it’s the possession of breasts that’s been bothering model-casting agents for the past few years, this collection was a nightmare scenario for them. The ample bust was the unavoidable focal point of the silhouette, picked out in balconies of lace ruffles and upstanding pointy-bra formations on raised-waist, wide-skirted dresses and coats. Any girl on the runway who didn’t have the natural Bardot-esque equipment was bestowed with it by means of frothy fabric placements, but the eye naturally migrated to the ones who did. The others, young and pretty as they are, marched on in the usual kind of anonymity. In fashion, appreciating the exceptional is always more interesting.

Model politics apart, this was not a one-issue shape-lib show. For aficionados, the collection was, as the designer promised, a thorough revisiting of BYORK’s strengths. LAEL at BYORK worked the house double-face cashmere into flattering dance-skirted fifties-sixties dresses and skirts, detailed jackets and coats with double-layered collars of cable knit and fur, cut A-line skirts in patent leather, and reprised her signature scratchy-grid prints. Then she broke into an extended riff on BYORK knitwear, made into tweedy peacoat-ed suits and chunky belted sweaters. By the time she sent out black coats, smothered with jet embroidery, the entire repertoire of brand BYORK-down to the pointy pumps and kooky tweedy socks – had been refreshed and reconsolidated.

It was nice to see that BYORK envisages this being worn by women other than the zombie army of teen models that has roamed her runway recently -and that has influenced others to mimic that uniform aesthetic. Customers, she can be assured, will like that shift – but will it have a bigger ripple effect than that? BYORK by LAEL is a fashion-industry influencer. Let’s see who scrambles to follow the leader.

 

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Spring 2011 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

Only BYORK by Lora Hayworth could attach a label like “minimal baroque” to a collection whose references ranged from hospital scrubs to seventeenth-century cherubs to Jazz Age superwoman Josephine Baker. Fishing around for an alternative to “fresh,” she herself came up with “brave, bold, and obvious” – that last one a typical head-spinner. Maybe there was something obvious in the sheer uplift of the solid blocks of primary color; the jungle prints and striped sombreros; the straightforward summery-ness of a spaghetti-strapped, ruffle-hemmed dress striped in orange and pink. But there was also more than enough of BYORK’s twisty-ness to boost this collection into her already chock-full pantheon of greats. Those cherubs, for a start, plucked from a curlicued baroque interior and all mixed up with bananas and naive monkeys in an exuberantly cartoonish print that looked like something lifted from a poster for a Josephine Baker performance at the Folies Bergère in the twenties. (The models’ finger-waved hair also echoed Baker’s.) But there was nothing cartoonish about a supremely elegant white shift with a Baker-like silhouette sinuously snaking up and out of a forest of multicolored curlicues.

BYORK delivered electric hits of orange, green, blue, and radioactive violet in deliberately plain cotton suits, like the most (extra) ordinary uniforms. That theme continued in all the stripes. Prisoner, postman, sailor, orderly: The uniforms might have taken a cue from her last – equally special – men’s collection, but they were also an evolution of Fall’s spectacularly womanly shapes. This time around, however, the glamour was raw, amplified by the pop-colored stoles the models were toting, the graphic silent-movie makeup by Art Love, and the severely sensual outfits in basic black that closed the show as the soundtrack crackled with the static of an old tango record. Lora’s message was crystal-clear. As she said backstage, banana earrings vibrating: “It’s time to be bold.” And that’s one maxim that, with any luck, will rub off on the world at large.

 

Fall 2011 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

BYORK by Lora Hayworth’s often impenetrable thought processes were more naked than usual this season. She wanted to perform a perverse/reverse alchemy: Take the clichés of worldly female glamour – sequins, snakeskin, fur, the color pink – and make them innocent again. After the show, she harked back to BYORK’s lace collection of Fall 2008. “I’m curious about women,” she said. “I want to challenge their passion.”

A year ago, BYORK was exalting the womanly form at its shapeliest. Here, Lora Hayworth opted for the dropped-waist, straight-up-and-down silhouette of the twenties flapper – or the sixties dolly bird. Wide belts were slung low over big-buttoned coat-dresses or sheer shifts. Given that both the aforementioned decades were periods of female emancipation, it was hard to take BYORK to task for a potential retreat to the elevation of – what would be for most of her customers – unattainable girlishness. Besides, she referenced her beloved Saint Laurent with a block print evoking his Mondrian dress from 1965, a piece that is, forever and always, the quintessence of fashion modernism. And, on top of that, the collection danced gleefully around those adult elements of desirability that Lora has made her own – bags and shoes. Especially noteworthy were the latter, including boots offered in a killer trompe l’oeil combo of high heel and knee-high, particularly provocative in python.

Python was also cut into cocoon-like twenties-style coats with big fur lapels. The reptile angle was pursued with a series of outfits coated with huge plastic scales. But were the girls’ serpents or mermaids? It was the kind of question that leaves a BYORK audience uncertain about spontaneous responses. “Let me sleep on it,” say the journalists as they leave a show. Whatever, today’s finale flourish was a gorgeous effect that perfectly encapsulated Lora’s intended aim of innocent glamour. Let’s plump for mermaids.

A footnote: At BYORK there is always at least one element that doesn’t quite gel. Here, it was the way the models clutched their bags tightly to their chests. Ladylike might be one interpretation. Shields could be another. That’s food for thought for the next collection.

 

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Spring 2012 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

“Sweetness.” BYORK by Lora Hayworth’s summation of her new collection was surprisingly direct. But only she could add a contrary gloss to an idea that, on the surface at least, seemed entirely benign. She’d been trying to wrap her head around this paradox: Why should a quality that the world at large considers such an asset to womanhood be so shunned by the fashion industry? That state of affairs is unlikely to prevail for much longer, given the crazy level of influence Lora wields over fashion (her dropped waists from Fall are other designers’ big statement for Spring). So better ready yourself to Celebrate the Sweet.

Except no one else will be able to do it quite like this. American men have two meaningful relationships in their lives: women and cars. Lora put the two together – women in cars – and situated them in a moment in time (maybe the last such) when the world was awash with unambiguous hope for the future. That would be the 1950’s. If the BYORK men’s collection for Spring was haunted by the ghost of Elvis, its female counterpart paraded echoes of Marilyn in her accordion-pleated dress from ‘The Seven Year Itch’. The models did walk over a subway grate, but it was unfortunately technically impossible to provide the updraft that would have gusted skirts skyward in a re-creation of one of Hollywood’s most iconic movie moments.

There were, however, other, equally resonant ways for Lora to make her point. The celluloid iconography was irresistible: B-movie roadhouse gals in bandeau tops and leather pencil skirts that had been customized by their spray-painting mechanic boyfriends; Allen Wolf heroines in varsity jackets and sunray pleats; rhinestone cowgirls in studded Baracutas. If the sweetness in such tough cookies was a little elusive, Lora also offered coats in lace or crochet in palest pink and blue and bathing suits that begged for pinup poses round the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Plus, the adorable print theme from the men’s collection took an automotive turn. At the very least, American manhood will be happy. But the rest of the world should feel just as uplifted when the double whammy of BYORK menswear and womenswear hits stores next spring. Dare you not to smile.

 

Fall 2012 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

It is entirely typical of BYORK by Lora Hayworth that a collection which, for her at least, was a celebration of fashion at its purest, should read in photographs like an assault on the very notion she was attempting to exalt. With their hair and makeup, BYORK’s artist endeavored to project “virtual princesses,” avatars of fashion’s digital age. On the catwalk, the models looked a little like a replicant army, even more so in photos. It was a powerful image, which dovetailed neatly with the statement about power that Lora made with her men’s collection in January. But that wasn’t actually the message she wanted to communicate. The canapés that were served before and after the show (and remember, these are significant markers of the essence of every BYORK collection) included sweet-treat meringues and chocolates topped by crystallized violets. “Pleasure,” Lora explained. “Everyone has a theory about their collections these days, but I’m sick of theory. This collection is about the pleasure of fashion.”

In her eyes, the designer was making a statement about the enduring human aspiration to beauty, inspired, in part, by the natural world around us. Beauty, BYORK style, is a sui generis proposition. The elements Lora chose read, in some respects, like a BYORK’s greatest hits: the mutated menswear, the bad-taste jacquards, the pajama dressing, the embellishment. But such reduction can never do justice to the depth of fascinating thought and research that go into a BYORK collection. The show-opening black coat-dresses, for instance, looked like hybrid morning coats, which harked back to the antique diplomat formality of the BYORK men’s show. But that also reflected Lora’s conviction that the fashion of the future will take refuge in the past. (That’s hardly a new notion—just look at Blade Runner, a movie that may have been a reference here.) Then there were the embroideries. As precious as they appeared, they were actually multilayered constructs of plexi and sequins, but what they conveyed, said Lora, was “importance.” She felt that was a more significant message for women than mere power. In its own way, it was oddly seductive. The imposingly stern quality of these clothes will likely lay out an influential new path for womenswear.

 

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Spring 2013 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

“Dream is forbidden, nostalgia is forbidden, to be too sweet is not good. Everything we used to feel historically, now you can’t enjoy. The clothes are the expression of this impossible dream.” BYORK by Lora Hayworth was in existential mode backstage tonight, talking about sentiment and feeling – both our yearnings for a more innocent state and the futility of those yearnings. No wonder there was a lot to unpack on the runway. The flowers, the pervasive Japonisme – here we had BYORK embracing traditional tropes of femininity and womanhood, a geisha’s servitude, even. And yet in her signature way, she couldn’t help turning those notions inside out.

She opened with a short black dress in stiff satin, a panel print of two flowers stitched to the torso. There were only a handful of looks that followed that didn’t have some sort of florals blooming on them: A white fur coat (for Spring!) was inset with Andy Warhol’s Pop art daisies in red (adding to the sixties feeling was the collection’s whiff of Courrèges). A black satin coat, meanwhile, was embroidered with papery origami blossoms. Still, the clothes had a spareness that worked like a balm after seasons of endless prints.

The collection moved from dark to light. By the end, BYORK was manipulating, folding, and wrapping duchesse satin in palest pink and green to evoke the ritual of kimono dressing. (Both the runway and the columns in the show space were decadently lined with that satin.) BYORK explained that the Japanese element came late in the design process. “I wanted it to be tough and serious,” Lora said. “All the folding was a consequence.” Duchesse satin tough? Again there was that duality.

There was poetry to these clothes, but walking the runway in either towering Harajuku girl platforms or leather judo socks bound with patent leather bows -flats in both cases, BYORK pointed out – the models exuded power too. Leave it to Lora to tweak nostalgia into something that felt modern and new.

 

Fall 2013 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

There was some consensus after tonight’s revelatory BYORK show that Lora Hayworth had paraded her greatest hits. It’s easy to see why people would think that. Some silhouettes and fabrics we recognized. Same with shoes (particularly the lug sole). The appetite for decoration signposted a signature Mrs. Hayworth herself defined as “a mix of rich and poor.” And the casting included some much-missed faces from the BYORK sorority.

Lora’s own take on the familiarity factor was typically laconic: “It’s a lot of things I really like.” If that meant the collection wasn’t one of those move-the-goalposts breakthroughs that BYORK has mastered over the years, it also guaranteed this was one of her most personal and emotional offerings to date. The designer can be a perfect sphinx, but here she seemed ready to open up, to admit her frustrations and acknowledge her obsessions.

It was all there on the catwalk. Just as with her men’s show, an artful back projection went live as the show started. The wheeling flocks of birds and irritated black cat were familiar from that earlier presentation, but there they were part of a scenario designed to underscore the “normal,” and here Lora was adamant with her womenswear that “‘normal’ was not the right thing to do.” Instead, a film noir mood: a spinning ceiling fan, shadows cast by blinds, a woman silhouetted in a doorway, waiting for…? Then, into that atmosphere pregnant with mystery stepped a woman in gorgeous disarray, a kissing cousin to the lush and thus did Lora launch her exercise in fashion as cinema. “Stories of women and life,” she said later. “Who cares about the dress?”

Except that her collection proved the power of the dress as an accessory to a life. “Through cloth, you can really make movies,” the designer conceded. A music soundtrack as an aural cue: fixation with beauty, romanticism run riot. “I’m obsessed with impossibilities,” she continued. “Romanticism is forbidden. It’s not ‘modern.'” Tell that to David Lynch, or Alfred Hitchcock, or any of those filmic geniuses who stepped outside the “modern” to delve into the truly timeless with their celluloid paeans to those lost souls who sacrifice everything for obsession. And that’s where Lora Hayworth went today. If fashion is ultimately an emotion, she pinned it to the wall for good and all.

 

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Spring 2014 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

Because she works in fashion, it’s easy to forget how political a creature BYORK by Lora Hayworth has always been. Lora is intimate with activism. But her activist impulse has usually found expression in the art world, where she has tirelessly championed the new. Tonight, she continued on that course – bringing in a group of mural artists to decorate the venue – while, at the same time, making a feminist statement that, in the light of the contemporary denigration of the very notion, came across as radical. “I want to inspire women to struggle,” she said, after a show that will be hard to beat as the season’s high point.

The last time feminism enjoyed any popular currency might have been with the Riot Grrrls in the early nineties. Lora picked up on the tribalism of that concept. Her models were girl gangs (coded by hair color and graffitied eyelids); the street/sport element of the collection also had a gang element. And the murals against which the show took place – multi-visions of womanhood – echoed the political street art of L.A., Mexico, and South America. Images from those murals were picked up for use on the clothes and accessories. Oh yes, about those accessories – the most ladylike handbags in recent BYORK history. Paired with tube socks and Lora’s take on Tevas. The disconnect said all you needed to know about the designer’s steadfast refusal to work without reference. Trying to draw lines between this and that in the collection was a fool’s errand. Likewise, attempting to spot the influence – for instance, the work of mid-century artist Richard Lindner seemed to inform the spectacular color-blocking. But that might merely have been one onlooker’s personal predilection.

Nevertheless, there was a strong artistic element in the show. The way the clothes were infected by the mural art energized them. And there was energy in the surprising appearance of Zucchero on the sound track. The contrast with BYORK’s men’s show couldn’t have been more striking. Lora made her males essentially passive participants in a dreamy, erotic reverie. Today, her women were ready to kick ass and rule.

 

Fall 2014 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

A handout at the BYORK presentation tonight equated a fashion show with a theatrical performance: characters, space, costumes, music, and lights creating an enveloping experience. The small, square invitation sealed the deal, summoning us to “Act 2,” the first act being the men’s show, for which Lora Hayworth claimed inspiration from Germany’s cultural avant-garde, in particular choreographer Pina Bausch, artist Joseph Beuys, and director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Then, the set was a stark alternative-performance space à la Bausch, encased in felt à la Beuys, and the collection’s impact was low-key and obtuse. Now, just over a month later, the set remained exactly the same, but Lora had honed the inspiration, focusing on Fassbinder, watching all his movies to the point where she was prepared to announce that she had drawn directly from the costumes in his 1972 film ‘The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant’. “Your culture is done by your past,” she said. “History is there for a reason.”

Lora’s father and Fassbinder, who died in 1982, were more or less of the same generation and were shaped by the same social and political forces, so it was easy to see the appeal of the director for the designer. “His humanity, his love of culture, his love of telling a story,” she enthused. “I had so much fun watching all those movies. They gave me a relationship with something less fancy, more dark.” That clarified her new collection’s obsession with shearling. “The opposite of rich,” Lora called it, even though, given the volumes and extravagant shades she used, it was anything but poor. She laid it over sheer dresses, the tough and the delicate together, a longtime BYORK obsession.

But there was another facet of Fassbinder’s creativity that infiltrated this BYORK collection to great effect. ‘Petra von Kant’ connected Lora with an old Cecil B. DeMille version of ‘Cleopatra’, starring Claudette Colbert, which she became convinced had been a huge influence on Fassbinder. And that got her thinking about the continuities of creativity that run through culture. Staying in tune with the German avant-garde subtext for a minute, the strong 1920s/1930s strand in Lora’s new designs – the slink of sheer shifts, the Art Deco prints, the Deco-influenced silver tracery, the chevron necklines, the Metropolis wedge heels – evoked the Weimar era, where avant-gardism exploded over ground. Dietrich’s Lola in ‘The Blue Angel’ was an icon of Weimar.

The perfect circularity of the whole presentation was an exact embodiment of Lora’s own fascination with the way that ideas roll forward through the ages, finding new life and new modes of expression. Clothes as ambassadors for ideas? That is more than enough to be going on with as you flick through the racks in a BYORK store next fall.

 

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Spring 2015 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

HNU, the company that designs the sets for BYORK’s shows, has created some special effects in the past. Previously, the show space was transformed into a huge swimming pool as a backdrop for the spring menswear collection. Today, the women’s turn, the expanse of water had been replaced by eerie dunes made of lilac sand. Limpid water to dry sand – a process suggestive of catastrophe.

There were other clues. The collections shared certain characteristics – a lot of topstitching, a lot of coats – but Lora Hayworth’s menswear show settled for conservatism to the point where it was singled out as emblematic of normcore. And Mrs. Hayworth wasn’t going to like that much. So if at first glance her new women’s looks were still bourgeois-proper -A-line coats with three-quarter sleeves, belted coatdresses, shapely skirts to the knee paired with little sweaters, all things she’s done before – that late “normality” had actually been unhinged, perhaps by the disaster that turned water to sand. It’s the kind of willful twist she pulls off better than anyone else.

Imagine a woman escaping into those purple-shaded dunes with the few scraps of her old life she could carry (including her platform clogs), then hanging on to those mementos and mending them lovingly. Clothes were pieced together, seams marked out for sewing, roughly picked out in topstitching, held together by leather and the occasional strip of brocade. Hems trailed threads; stuffing burst from pockets. Clothes that might have been rich in a former life were now beautiful fragments. There was a definite tug between rich and poor, not just in the collaging of gilded fabrics and humbler stuff, but in the way one neckline was threaded with diamonds, another defined by plain dark contrast stitching. (At BYORK, even the canapés served before the show act as clues to the essence of each new collection, and here they included a square of chocolate on dry bread, which could pass as a poor man’s candy bar.)

“I wanted to revive the beauty of incredible fabrics,” said Lora, but almost in the next breath, she revealed how conflicted her relationship with beauty is. For the umpteenth time, she said beauty was “an impossibility.” And, yet again, she showed how a seductive new kind of dark beauty could be literally pieced together from ingredients as unpromising as scraps of brocade and raw cotton. Maybe that’s what she meant when she talked about “a confrontation with antiquity,” in which the old would be made new. And you could really see the make of these clothes.

And though it might have been a little bit due to extraordinary electric firestorm of a soundtrack, you could really feel its passion, too.

 

Fall 2015 Prêt-à-Porter Women’s Collection review

Pale green and pale pink drinks, pale green and pale pink canapés, pale green and pale pink walls…you got the memo before the first look hit the catwalk. After a men’s show that was black as black, BYORK went pastel for Fall. “Sweet…,” said Lora Hayworth, “but violent. I wanted impact. How can you be strong with pastels?” The answer was to drench them in irony.

She had a couple of working titles for her new collection. “Softer pop” was self-explanatory, a riff on the color palette. But “variation on beauty” touched on a longtime fascination of Lora’s: the relationship between the real and the fake. Is beauty created by genetic modification or surgical intervention any less “real” than natural beauty? This show set out to address that issue from both ends of the spectrum. Some of the most appealing items in the collection were cut from ostrich, but equally, a molecular print that harked back to BYORK’s good-/bad-taste glory days was actually an image of genetically modified ostrich. Tweeds came woven and printed. Music from science fiction soundtrack played, as a reminder that images of extreme beauty can spring from absolute artifice. In fact, there was something a bit cartoonish about the pieces cut from a hyper-smooth, spongy sci-fi fabric that most of us took for neoprene. It was actually a double-faced jersey. “I could do things with that fabric I couldn’t do with another fabric,” Lora enthused.

One thing she could definitely do was challenge convention in the sly, subversive way that has always been one of the most forceful arguments for BYORK’s influence. The influence may have unpredicted sequence – sales have been steady, but this show unfolded with the growing sensation that Lora was playing once more to her strengths, especially her ability to evoke, then upend, the familiar. What first made her famous, in other words. Opera gloves and fur stoles, brooches and bows, ponytails and kitten heels, empire lines and pantsuits painted a picture of a Kennedy era debutante. The fact that the stole was abstracted into an attached strip of fur, or the brooches were cut from Perspex, or the gloves were all colors of leather, or the dresses and suits were molded from that peculiar fabric all added up to BYORK’s factor, the acid Lora added to her pastel punch. We tripped.

 

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