R13’s Chris Leba typically approaches his runway shows with a formula: Find an American subculture and interpret it for modern women through an ultracool, grunge-tinged lens. In recent years, it’s resulted in one of the most exciting propositions for new Americana and innovative denim.
His fall show was less referential, inspired first by Anton Corbijn’s black-and-white photographs of U2 out west in Joshua Tree, and then the thrifted military coats and felt hats the band members can be seen wearing. Western influences have played an important role in Leba’s world in past seasons; this fall he made a statement with upcycled leather and denim, at times experimentally worked together so that the leather legs of pants zip off to become denim shorts, or pieced-together jackets in oversize proportions take on the appearance of double layering.
Enveloping silhouettes, in fact, were a pillar of this ultra-cool collection that will appeal to guys and gals alike. Leba brought back some great voluminous coats, first a shearling, which was followed by floral and patent leather iterations — each one just as exciting as the first. “You have to play with proportions to be interesting,” Leba said post-show, adding: “It feels right for now.” Upcycled leather jackets were standouts, too, nipped at the waist and featuring exaggerated shoulders in the vein of Leba’s early heroes Azzedine Alaïa and Claude Montana. He topped these off with classic Western accessories equally as big — extra long bolero ties, elongated skinny leather belts and big ten-gallon hats.
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