26-year-old New Yorker Telfar Clemens showed a specially commissioned film by Ryan Trecartin last night at the Jake Chiles Gallery on Bowery for his latest Telfar collection. By coincidence Patti Smith was hosting a poetry happening on the gallery’s lower floor. The crowd was a mixture of young male fashion editors and art world types such as Slava Mogutin.

The collection is nominally menswear but due to the androgynous nature of the tiny string bikini swimwear and Terry toweling shorts and trousers, all could work equally well as womenswear. Still it’s brilliant, menswear needs Telfar.

As much as Telfar’s work seems more reminiscent of Europeans like Bernhard Willhelm than his American contemporaries, he’s not a conceptualist overthink. This collection FORMALE:LIFE is designed to have multi-purposes, the boxer shorts come with cargo pant style pockets so you can wear them as outerwear or indeed as club wear. Telfar said of the gray, white and blue pallet that he wanted "everyday colors". He does insist that the swimwear is mens though. And confirms "of course I’d wear it, I designed it, it’s the Jacob Rees and Fire Island bathing suit basically".

Telfar called the film by the Tumblr generation’s favorite artist Ryan Trecartin, a "video catalogue, like what you’d get in an Undergear catalogue but a step forward." The film’s standard suburban backdrops made for twisted version of images you’d expect to find in a mid-nineties mailorder catalogue. The meta-narrative? It’s totally normal for men to wear a string bikini.

Photography by Chris Swainston

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