Last season’s Eckhaus Latta runway involved toddler percussionists and a “hummus toilet manifesto” in the show notes. This season’s conjured Fifties Balenciaga and Hollywood red-carpet possibilities.
Indie spirits Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta might just be growing up, that’s what. They brought a new polish to their offbeat aesthetic for fall, showing their most well-balanced collection yet, one that should firmly establish them in the alterna-fashion pantheon alongside kindred independents Rachel Comey and Mara Hoffman.
“Our vision around clothing, what we would want to wear, and what our friends want to wear, it shifts and grows,” Eckhaus said backstage at the show space, a former garage and now sometimes nightclub (it’s still Brooklyn after all, and hipster mead was served). “We’re not trying to make red-carpet gowns or start a suiting shop, but we’re both 31 and a lot of our friends are getting married. We have things to get dressed up for,” added Latta.
The bicoastal design duo met as students at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied sculpture and she studied textiles, and their skills in both disciplines were on display in this confident outing, which was just arty enough without being weird.
The label launched in 2011 thrives on denim, but that took a backseat to more structured silhouettes and tailoring, with architectural volume, arching vents and slits adding definition to charcoal pinstripe, or Yosemite landscape pattern jacquard, blazers, trousers and skirts. Dresses ranged from a draped plaid minidress to an emerald-green satin parachute gown that would work at a black-tie something. Meanwhile, an orange drip-floral arch-cutout dress over a black knit layer pushed into a more modern sport direction.
Not forgetting the cozy, there was a strong emphasis on outerwear, thanks to a collaboration with Ugg (yes, that Ugg) that spawned a chestnut shearling maxi coat, a traffic orange jacket and some seriously cool court shoes that were part clog, part mule and just the right amount of distressed.
“When they first approached us, we were dumbfounded by how we could [collaborate] without being offensively subversive,” said Latta. “Uggs are such an iconic, bulbous-looking shoe, but to be able to make them blocky and into heels” was really cool, said Eckhaus, noting that all Ugg shearling comes from meat-industry byproducts, which feeds into the duo’s values of being as sustainable as possible.
Knits were another bright light, none more so than the multicolored patchwork top and tube skirt made for plus-size model Paloma Elsesser to close the show, which was brilliantly cast to reflect the label’s gender and size-inclusivity.
When asked about maintaining their edge, while clearly referencing some classic and contemporary couture, Latta said, “We’re not blind to those references, or hiding from them, but it wouldn’t be of interest to then make this a 20th-century Spanish theme. It’s picking it apart and figuring out how it fits into our language.”