Public School kicked off the men’s spring season by making a global political statement.
The stage was set — literally — as a mock factory, complete with a hero-less monument meant to symbolize “the rise of leaders who shouldn’t be leaders,” said codesigner Dao-Yi Chow. “It’s very dystopian and George Orwellian ‘1984.’ We need to wake up and snap out of it.”
The clothes were designed to represent the uniform of the revolution, and the rebels walked down the runway wearing heritage military pieces such as slouchy officers top coats, boxy parachute parkas and cropped bombers — the strongest outerwear pieces in the collection. New graphic elements appeared in flag prints and embellished patches with the seal of WNL. The show ended with one factory worker spray-painting the full words, and the meaning, of the initials: We Need Leaders.
While the set was imaginative, the men’s wear was very familiar with its mix of tailoring and street layering. Utility references were used throughout in oversize cargo pockets with statement zippers in jackets and pants and cinched effects on sleeves and waists. The brand’s relationship between streetwear and tailored garb continued through its offering of athletically skewed jackets, shorts, sweatshirts and shirts blended with sharply constructed blazers and fitted dress pants.
The women’s resort collection bore the same street influence as the men’s, and included sporty bombers — some in bright yellow, “the collection’s dominant color [symbolizing] a call to action,” according to Chow — as well as sleeveless hoodies, tailored blazers, military jackets and wool coats with circular hardware detailing. A few skirts and tops featured slashes, adding to the apocalyptic mood. All of the looks were cut oversize and layered with abandon, lending the collection an undone, tomboyish vibe, as the girl gang stomped down the runway in leather high-top sneakers.
A dripping black-and-white flower print, which decorated a floaty silk slipdress and a trenchcoat, symbolized climate change and “the idea of the earth melting around us,” Chow said. “This collection represents the resistance. It’s our secular army of boys and girls who are rising up.”