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AREA Opens The Doors To Their Lush Fairytale Land

It’s always nice to watch the progression of a brand. AREA first emerged on the scene for Fall/Winter ’14 and were already on fashion’s collective radar when they first showed at NYFW last season. Tonight, they showed their Fall/Winter ’16 collection at the Standard Hotel with MADE Fashion Week. It may have only been their fourth time showing in New York, but if the introduction of a couple menswear outfits or the crystal motif that was laced throughout practically every piece was any indication, they’ve certainly made it.

For this collection, designers Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk partnered with Swarovski—and what a harmonious partnership it was. From the looks of it, they were definitely dealt a hefty load of crystals. The way they incorporated them into their collection, however, did not follow the traditional Swarovksi partnership model. The crystal elements were notably playful, imaginative, and glaringly progressive. An avant-garde style pinstripe suit swapped out the traditional stripes for crystal ones. There were also crystal shoelaces for guys, crystal pipe stitching on robe-like jackets, and crystal bondage elements—and it all culminated in a Swarovski-barred cage in the center of the presentation room.

The duo stuck to their tried and true design details too—namely, their brilliant use of texture. Entire outfits that were awash in the same color looked far from uniform thanks to their liberal use of fabrics.

Exploring the idea of femininity was at the heart of this collection, and the setting only heightened that. Staged within an almost entirely wood-paneled room, with a fuzzy beige carpet, and opulent crystals glistening every which way, I was sure Ivana Humpalot would seductively emerge from a jacuzzi at any moment. Unfortunately, she didn’t. Luckily, however, I was able to steal a couple minutes with the designers, amidst all the well-deserved praise.

What was the inspiration behind this collection?  

BF: So this season we were really exploring ideas behind hardcore femininity and kind of the different ways this can lay out whether it’s traditional femininity, femme, or drag. It brings together a lot of different ideas, and different ways it can be interpreted.

Was this a fun collection to make?

BF: It’s always a fun collection for us, I think it’s important to inject a dose of humor. You know, we love what we do and I think that’s important—to enjoy the process.

PP: I think also when you think of femininity, there are so many different ways to interpret it and some are like, “Oh he is feminine,” or “She is not feminine enough.” So for us, it was like highlighting all of these things that are quite beautiful about it and not cliché. So that was the idea of infusing the femininity.

Did you guys partner with any crystal brands?

BF: We did, with Swarovski. Which was such an amazing partnership—you know, for us, we love surface design, we love textile development, and so it was such an amazing experience working with them.

PP: Yeah the cool thing is we started pulling pictures of girls who just got their nails done and made iPhone pictures of that, and [there’s something] really cool and intimate about a manicure. So we actually worked with Tracy Lee, a manicurist, and she did some really amazing nails for us, so it was amazing to have all these different elements working together.

Were those Nikes on the guys?

PP: Yes, they were deconstructed and bejeweled nikes.

All photos taken exclusively for Milk by Mitchell McLennan.

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