A parking garage in the Financial District might be the furthest thing possible from a tropical locale, but at 9 p.m. on Friday night, if you closed your eyes and imagined, it sort of felt like one. That’s where Scott Studenberg and John Targon staged their latest runway show, though in typical Baja East fashion, the duo tricked out the space with pink and blue neon lights and thumping rap music. It was an especially sweaty, balmy night — at one point, it started to pour — and guests were seen fanning their faces with the program notes as public relations passed out bottled water.
“That’s what we want, to have it be a major moment of fun, grit and dirt,” said Targon. When the show got going, a few leafy palm prints, seen on languid shirting and trousers as well as swimwear — the latter a new category for the brand — drove home the lineup’s welcome-to-the-jungle vibe, further emphasized by the model’s wet hair and smoky eyes. (Teyana Taylor, the star of Kanye West’s notoriously sexy music video for “Fade,” was seen wearing one of the new bathing suits in the front row).
Apparently, the collection’s tropical influence was inspired by a scene in “Minions,” the animated film and Baja’s latest unlikely collaborator this season. The tiny yellow creatures were splashed across a few T-shirts and tanks, and several looks featured banana prints, because “Minions love bananas,” said Targon. (Natch.) Guests could buy the Baja East x Minions pieces immediately after the show on the label’s e-commerce site, or from a merch truck at the after party, which was held on the garage’s upper level.
Fringe was everywhere — in colorful beading, which decorated lace tops, silk pants and oversize jerseys — or at the edges of the label’s signature cashmere knit ponchos, one of which was seen on a male model backstage. “God bless his soul for wearing that,” said Studenberg, noting the sweltering temperature. A few men’s looks were worked in, including a cool velvet track jacket, “though I wouldn’t call it men’s,” said Studenberg. “Anything we put guys in, girls will totally wear.”
A silver metallic evening dress, one of the show’s closing looks, was styled with athletic slides, capturing the lineup’s spirit of luxe ath-leisure. “We don’t believe that fashion has to be here and gone,” said Targon, in reference to a shimmering gold slipdress that performed well last season — a celeb favorite worn by Keke Palmer, Alessandra Ambrosio and Hannah Davis — which the duo re-imagined for spring in python and satin-back crepe. “We love building on our core of gender-obsolescent wear,” added Studenberg.