NEW YORK — Miguel Adrover is seven months late with his rent. He spent all his money, and then some, to stage his first runway show on Wednesday night at the CSV Cultural Center on the Lower East Side here.
But he’s happy. His friend Alexander McQueen was in his front row, cheering along with retailers including Linda Dresner and Jeffrey Kalinsky. “It was my dream come true,” he said afterward.
At many of the shows here, sweeping a model’s hair off to the left is considered styling. Not for Adrover. Enlisting a small army of friends, the 33-year-old designer took the trouble to build a V-shaped plywood runway and decorated it front and back with long grasses pushed into soil, grasses he collected himself in New Jersey.
When the lights went out, the audience went quiet, as if something dangerous might leap out of the grass. Instead, out prowled a completely naked woman with a mask, followed by some of the most challenging and aggressively inventive clothes seen so far this week.
There were denim pants with elastic inserted at the knees, making the legs resemble trees that had been nibbled by a beaver. Other pants came with raw, excess seams exposed, some fluttering inside the pantlegs like a membrane. One model came out wearing little more than the skin of a 30-foot python draped over her shoulders.
The pashmina brigade this was not.
Instead, Adrover told the story of a woman from Brazil who is forced to flee an environment devastated by timber and petroleum companies. She walks to Chiapas, Mexico, where she gets embroiled in revolutionary war, only to end up in New York, wearing a tattered American flag and a trucker’s hat.
“I think the show was very political,” he said. “It was a real woman, not a fantasy. She was a fighter, but she is proud and sexy at the same time.”
Spanish-born and self-trained in fashion, Adrover moved to New York some seven years ago. He’s the owner of Horn, a gravel-floored boutique at 328 East 9th Street that carries clothes by his friend McQueen as well as labels like Bruce, As Four and Dugg, on which he previously collaborated with Douglas Hobbs. Adrover admits that his store lends out more clothes than it sells, but he said he hopes to find a backer soon.
Some of the clothes would be difficult to produce, to say the least. Adrover spent three weeks constructing one dress for his “New York” segment, plastering it with street posters and then scratching them off repeatedly to make it look “like it had a history.” Still, he estimated some 60 percent of what was shown on the runway is wearable.
While highly conceptual, Adrover’s show wasn’t without irony. In a reference to luxury conglomerate LVMH, Adrover made a statement McQueen found amusing. He took a vintage Louis Vuitton duffel bag, sliced off the bottom and styled it as a miniskirt, handles and all. That’s how a warrior woman goes luxury shopping.