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DC Fashion Week: Well, It Ain’t Bryant Park…

by Borderstan.com March 4, 2011 at 7:00 am 8 Comments

Khelan Bhatia, Borderstan

An outfit for the week: Khelan wears a plaid shirt by Steven Alan, a black cardigan from Club Monaco, Levi’s 511’s and sunglasses by Robert Marc.

From Khelan Bhatia. You can follow Khelan on Twitter @KhelanB. He lives in the U Street area and writes about style for Borderstan.

Happy Friday, Borderstanis. Did you enjoy the Oscars?

Yeah, neither did I. But some of the outfits were stunning, especially Michelle William’s dress and Colin Firth’s classic tux with a shawl collar. There were some tragedies as well (besides James Franco). Listen, Annette, I love you but this gown does you no favors. And Mr. Bale, you’re as handsome as your are talented, but what the what were you thinking?

Anyhoo. Enough about the Academy Awards.

So last week was DC Fashion Week. Believe it or not, I’ve never attended or participated in any fashion events in the District. That is until last week when I went to menswear runway show, which was held at The Washington Post (events were at several locations). And just like the title of today’s column states: A fashion show in Bryant Park it wasn’t…

… Then again, no one really expected it to be. Honestly, since it was my first time at a D.C. fashion show, I had no idea what to expect. I have to admit that there was an odd energy and charm to it. Almost, as if it were a renegade pop-up runway show. That just happened to take place at the Post.

The show featured eight menswear designers who are based in the mid-Atlantic area. Before, I offer my observations, I’d just like to say that I am incredibly impressed by anyone who follows their passion and puts forth their vision. With that said, there were varying degrees of quality among the designers who presented.

Top Rank

The show started off fairly strongly with a military inspired line of mostly outer-wear (but a few slacks and shirts intermingled in the show). Nothing here completely blew me away, as far as innovation goes, but the garments did appear to be very wearable and well-tailored. The stand out for me was a black double-breasted top with brass buttons (it’s the seventh image). That, or something similar will definitely have to find its way into my fall wardrobe.

Stella Bonds

Unfortunately, this next designer’s line did very little for me. Her show started off with sparkly underwear, then moved on to underwear with bizarre accessories, like belts around the midsection of the models, and then finally ended up with shirts that had overly-large collars and distracting details. While altering proportions has been a staple of fashion since, well, the dawn of time (Thom Browne is exhibit A of this), these disproportionate shirts just looked sloppy in my opinion.

They’re obviously inspired by Etro but they don’t come close to the quality or taste-level of the fashion house based in Milan. It’s probably not fair to compare the two, but inspiration leads to comparison.

Mason Sylvester

On the flip side, this designer did a decent job of tastefully pushing the boundaries with detailing and bold patterns. His line didn’t look messy, but rather playful and whimsical. Best of all, his line looks well tailored.

Will C. Styles

And here’s where the wheels fell off the wagon. This line just felt like a bad SNL parody of an episode of Project Runway. Hate to sound judgmental, but adding a multitude of superfluous buttons to an outfit just isn’t fashion in my book. Frankly, his models looked like TGI Friday’s servers who were excelling in the levels of flair.

Je Ne Sais Quoi

…which literally translates to “I don’t know what,” but, in French, suggests an intangible quality that makes something, or someone, attractive. While this line didn’t “wow” me, je ne sais quoi may be a good way of describing it. It’s definitely inspired by rapper Andre 3000’s Benjamin Bixby line which effortlessly combined the aesthetic of the prep and the dandy. Je Ne Sais Quoi has a little ways to go with tailoring and use of accessories.

For example, the fit of the blazers in the line didn’t look very well tailored and the use of a large flower as a boutineer just felt…distracting. However, there is a ton of promise in this line; I really liked one of the outfits that had a fitted sweater, shirt and retro cap. Very newsboy chic.

Paul Koko

It’s probably not a good idea when the MC of the fashion show introduces your line as being “made for measure” and your models walk out in a line that’s anything but. It raises all kinds of expectations. All of his models, who were pretty fit, looked about 15 lbs heavier. In my book, that’s a fashion emergency.

In addition to appearing ill-fitted, his line looked incredibly dated. It felt very “Color Me Bad.” (If the reference is lost on you, you’re way too young!)

Jeantrix Clothing

Oh boy. Where to begin with this one? Well, I have to admit there is some talent and a unique vision to this line. But, starting your runway show with screen print t-shirts is probably not your best foot forward. Easily the most eye-catching piece was this “profanity” vest. It figuratively (and literally) made a statement. I just have no idea where you’d wear this article of clothing. (Well, ok, maybe at a Ke$ha concert.)

Unfortunately, the statement lost its punch when, a couple of minutes later, the exact same vest came down the runway in a different color. If you’re trying to push boundaries, don’t make the same statement twice.

Ray Vincente

Thankfully, the show ended on a high note with this collection. It was definitely one of the most cohesive and well-designed lines in the whole show. I liked how the use of tartan plaid anchored the majority of the line (then again, I’m a sucker for plaid). Best of all, it was beautifully constructed. Very prêt-a-porter but still distinct nonetheless.

That’s it for me this week, folks. Enjoy your weekend and see you next Friday.

Comments (8)

  1. Seriously !!??
    DC’s fashion can be listed in one sentence…suits, rainboots, flat-flats, skinny jeans, flip flops and yoga wear.
    prêt-a-porter ??

  2. Hey, thanks for the haiku!

  3. Any chance of getting you do a comparison column or columns of different DC styles? Maybe a Georgetown-old-queen style versus a Logan-hipster-post-gay style? Or a U Street Girl look versus a Capitol Hill chic look? Those sort of things? Dare I ask you to compare DC to Chicago-New York-LA-San Francisco-Miami?

  4. Those are really great suggestions. In the near future, I’m planning making trips to a few of the cities you mentioned and that would make for an excellent column. Or series of columns.

  5. Khelan – I moved here from the south. My style of dressing to impress women on dates was easy there — everything was traditional/prep in my circle. Here I am not so sure. How about some tips for guys on what to wear on first-second-third dates in DC? I am in my late 20’s. Thanks.

  6. I moved here from the south as well (ok, well Texas but close enough right?).

    If it’s a night-time date at a classy restaurant, I’d err on the dressier (but not stuffy) side. Maybe a well-tailored button-down shirt, a pair of dark straight or slim-cut jeans, a navy blazer and leather lace-ups or slip on loafers (just make sure they’re not square-toed shoes). If it’s a day-time affair, you’ll want to go for something that says “effortlessly chic.” Maybe a polo, or a casual shirt, a pair of chinos (Levis has a great pair of 511 chinos in multiple colors), a cardigan and either a pair of boat shoes or canvas sneakers.

    Ultimately, you should wear an outfit that both makes you feel comfortable and confident. If you’re uncomfortable, your date will sense it too.

  7. I wasn’t at DC fashion week but i actually enjoyed what i saw and i LOVE Jeantrix’s style!! I have a few pieces from them and i dont wear them to Kesha concerts. lol. Love them

  8. While Jeantrix wasn’t my favorite, I did appreciate their creativity and chutzpah.

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