Hood By Air's Desolate Presentation Was More Than Just A Fashion Show
To feel scared while watching a fashion show is not a novel idea. Recent seasons have engendered much to be scared of—but mostly the prospect of tripping over extra long garments. And while Saturday’s Hood by Air show slash performance for the launch of MADE LA, “HALLWAYS,” certainly inspired that ilk of fear in me—there were oversized shoes for god’s sake, proving there’s no end to this aesthetic—it also inspired another, much more chilling strain. One that was extremely apocalyptic in nature, and could only be described as the fear of never again being allowed to shower.
Allow me to set the scene: a hollowed room with a mountain of sand sitting in the center, the audience crowded around it, with plumes of smoke rising from the mountain’s peak and blanketing the room. Yves Tumor (née Sean Bowie)—who Oliver apparently asked to perform in his show to “inspire [the audience] like a concert would” and to “give back a bit more energy”—creeping around the space, climbing up the sand gracelessly, tripping over himself, his harsh shrieks of “HBA” and “Hood by Air” reverberating throughout the room. The models trickled out one by one, all treacherous and hostile, with awkward, sometimes seizing gaits. Their faces smeared with fake blood, they stalked the room while kicking up sand and starting brawls with one another, seemingly oblivious to the audience that oftentimes got in the way. Add to that the eerie lights, and the effect was like a horrific, if trendy, dreamscape.
As is customary of HBA shows, there was much to make light of—the aforementioned oversized shoes, the jock straps and butt cracks, and the faux anarchist bird-flipping attitude, to name a few. At one point, I looked around to gauge the audience’s reaction, and was met with a knowing, slightly snooty nod from one guy as if to say “I get it.” “Do you?” I wanted to ask. “Because I’m not sure I do.”
And yet now, in light of the Orlando tragedy, the show suddenly feels gut-wrenchingly apt. Between the chanting of “HBA,” Tumor bellowed, “Who’s ready to lose their mind?” and “This is fucking life.” And for many, this is—“this” being a chronic and heightened sense of friction. Creative director Shayne Oliver has always addressed black and gay culture head-on in his collections and shows, but this felt less like a commentary on it and more like the war-torn aftermath—or, given the audience interaction, perhaps even a call to arms; one of the models, Sunny Sosa, told me that Oliver’s concept was about “getting the fans involved, that’s what our whole motto was…to get everybody feel like they’re involved, because they really are at the end of the day.”
If it was a call to arms, then the clothes in the collection were the armor—if not physical evidence of anguish—bearing the marks of senseless aggression. A model with blonde, shaggy hair trudged about rigidly in a long, floor-sweeping camouflage coat that had “Remastered Brutally” stamped on the back in red, paired with matching, extra roomy camo pants that looked as if they were slashed at the knees. There was the usual array of zippers, but also oversized and flared PVC pants in red and black, a white hoodie from which lengthy sleeve-like strips of fabric dangled, and a black floor-length shirt with a slit back and a savage image from a hardcore album printed on the front. There was a visceral sense of being dragged, unwillingly, through dirt. Of witnessing the innards of Oliver’s brain. And, as usual, it didn’t disappoint.
Stay tuned to Milk for more from MADE LA.