The Chromat Show Was Lit (Literally)
Ah, lit. Light’s past participle and fire’s successor. A seemingly global inside joke that I’m not in on, and also the perfect word to describe Chromat‘s Fall/Winter ’16, which showed today at MADE Fashion Week.
In typical Chromat fashion, the girls in the show were of all colors, stripes, and sizes. She fit the bill for the typical Chromat customer—that older girl you always looked up to when you were younger, the one with boundless and infectious confidence. “Real” girls, dynamic girls, smiling girls. Every season, founder and head designer Becca McCharen designs for this girl, and every season she’s not afraid to let the world know. The fact that the fashion community has embraced her and everything she believes in, rather than jilted her, is reason enough to restore at least some hope in the industry. And not only was she not jilted—she was nominated for a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award in 2015. Since then, the NYC based designer and architecture junkie has been tossed into a verifiable whirlwind. Her name is certainly more widely known now than it was a year ago, and her assets have clearly swelled to new, Wintourian heights.
Coming on the heels of her Intel-partnered Spring/Summer ’16 collection, her Fall/Winter ’16 designs were equally as advanced. Like past collections, this one included a good deal of PVC—yet unlike past collections, it came in transparent dresses, raincoats, and a two-sided, oversized bib (for which there’s definitely a more technical term). There was the usual array of neoprene and mesh—a sizable supply of athleisure, the lifeblood of every spin instructor. And then there was the unusual addition of color. Last and most notably were the LED lights—think, high-end glowsticks and deluxe neon Christmas lights—that were used in lieu of pipe stitching, and were controlled via very subtle hand pieces.
Oh, and in case you ever doubted Becca’s deep appreciation for technology, the virtual reality glasses that the show provided on every seat—and with which you can watch the Chromat show at home, for a second time, in virtual reality—should have hammered the point home.
After the show, I sat down with Becca, and was able to witness her empowering, vibrant, and contagious spirit firsthand.
What was the idea behind this collection?
This collection was specifically inspired by the Robert Irwin exhibit at Dia:Beacon. I love Dia:Beacon. I go there to get away and I really love modernism and conceptual art. His exhibit split the entire room into all these translucent walls and he had florescent lights in the middle wrapped in color. So, I took those color combinations as a challenge to incorporate color into Chromat—we usually do the show in mostly all black. It was that specific writing and color within that exhibit. And then we were thinking about how lighting functions in the natural world through biomimicry and and how lighting is a means to communicate and protect.
It seemed like the clothes were a bit more flexible this season. Would you say that’s true?
Yeah, so, one thing we incorporated was, we’re really into adaptive and responsive clothing—clothing that can sense how your body’s feeling, what your environment is like, and then change according to that. The light-up pieces were triggered by gloves so the model was making the dress light herself. We were using flexible lighting elements in that.
What is it about bondage wear that appeals to you?
I think it’s interesting because my goal is never to just make people sexy. My goal is to make people feel confident, and the people who wear Chromat are strong, bold, powerful women. I think bondage is about control, and for Chromat, it’s about the woman taking that control.
What’s the most creative way you’ve seen someone style your pieces?
It’s all over the board. I really like it when people do monochrome styling. Like, I’m obsessed with monochrome. That’s why it’s called Chromat.
What was the biggest change you noticed after the CFDA/Vogue nomination?
Everything changed. Like, stores, so many MORE stores. Yeah, it’s been a whirlwind.
Have you ever considered venturing into menswear?
No. But, who’s to say that men can’t wear this clothing? Who decides what is gender, and who can wear what?
I know you’re really into architecture. What’s your favorite city to go to to look at the architecture?
I have a favorite building in all different cities. One of my favorite buildings is the Seattle Public Library and then the Pompidou in Paris.
Do you use 3D printing to make all of your pieces?
No, actually nothing in this runway show was 3D printed. It was all just stretchable censors, but I am obsessed with the idea of 3D printing changing the game. I love the idea of hacking a collection right from the runway.
Your makeup is always really awesome. Have you ever considered doing anything with beauty?
Yeah, totally, I’d love to. A beauty collab would be so much fun and I would love to do that in the future.
For more Chromat coverage, read our runway rundown.