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A Perverse Ballet Recital at Gauntlett Cheng [NYFW]

In the last couple years, New York has seen the rise of an inordinate number of young, DIY-driven brands. Like all trends, however, someone had to have done it first, and—not that we’re counting or anything—but in the realm of emerging NYC designers, Gauntlett Cheng (the “Moses” dropped when David Moses dipped out) were the forerunners. One could even argue that they started the “casting real people” trend—“one” being the operative word here; as someone who compulsively shaves her armpits, I do not feel equipped to take on such a challenge.

Yet if you were among the lucky few who got to attend their show today—it took place on a boat—and witness their beautiful SS17 collection, You Gonna Cowboy Up or Just Lay There and Die?, then you know that engaging in such an argument would be entirely needless. “It’s about trying to negotiate your life wardrobe, your work wardrobe, your party wardrobe,” Esther Gauntlett told us. “It’s about living a double life,” Jenny Cheng added.

The fact is, Cheng and Gauntlett’s clothes speak for themselves. And what they say (in a soft, gender-bending whisper) is, “We’re pretty and we’re well made, kind of like high-end, offbeat loungewear.” Don’t quote us on that.

A Graffiti Treat(y)

A splash of graffiti, on two shirts, which felt a tad uncharacteristic until you got a little closer. One of them, as Cheng told us, depicted “a girl skinning a snake.” And let’s be honest: graffiti does not get much better than that. Part of a collaboration, the shirts were designed by Jason Matthew Lee and made by Out of Your Mind.

We Spied…

Gauntlett Cheng logos, which coated some of the silkier, more pajama inclined pieces, and which read “SOS” and “JC.” “Our first attempt at branding,” Cheng told us.

It’s in the Details…

As usual, Gauntlett Cheng made an impeccable array of knits. There were quite a few matching knit sets—tube top and skirt sets, vest and short sets—in addition to a few knit bikinis. Which, Cheng and Gauntlett told us, were probably the hardest piece to make (they, along with their team, made all of the samples themselves). But it was the styling that really caught our attention. In a clever twist on the trench-coat-fetish motif, the bikini tops were styled over roomy, oversized trench coats. And it worked.

The Takeaway…

Each model—there were older men, young dudes, girls, and older women—wore pastel colored, sheer socks, and if you looked at all of them together, really fast, it kind of resembled a perverse ballet recital. As if they had never changed out of their ballet class 20 years ago, but instead just grew up, and then suddenly, one day, looked down and realized they were 24 years old, kinda hairy, and that leotard they wore back in ’96? Yeah, that’s now a thong.

The Look That Gave Us Life…

It was a mustard yellow dress with rope accents that gave it a bondage edge, and it was exquisite.

Photos taken exclusively for Milk by Maya Fuhr.

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