John Elliott brought a healthy dose of California to New York City for his spring show, taking over a skate park on the Hudson River to drive home the inspiration for the season: Los Angeles. With the 90-plus-degree heat and blazing sun, it was L.A. at its most extreme.
The designer did his best to make attendees comfortable on their colorful milk-crate seats by providing cold water or juice and portable fans. But most faces were shiny with sweat by the time his celebrity guests arrived: LeBron James and Justin Bieber, the latter arriving hand-in-hand with fiancée Hailey Baldwin and grooving to the soundtrack.
Elliott considered his hometown “the most authoritative story” he could tell this season. “Not the stereotypical, glitzy, Hollywood L.A.,” he noted, “but the real neighborhoods — that’s my truth.”
It shone through in its casual vibe and the seamless blend of streetwear and athletic references. Elliott also showed a new maturity by offering up a blend of technical materials and varying silhouettes that took inspiration from different eras to create a never-ending youthful vibe.
His L.A. inspiration was obvious in the slightly oversize shorts and jackets that he emblazoned with a colorful bougainvillea print — a bit out of character for the brand that tends to offer a more subdued palette — in both red and yellow. “They use it as a freeway divider, so it’s kind of taken for granted,” he said, “but it’s beautiful.”
Sun-drenched prints came in different gradients on French terry, jersey knits, woven bowling shirts and work pants. “They’re playful pieces, but everything is shown through an L.A. lens,” he said.
He also mixed dye with oil to create one-of-a-kind knitwear pieces. “It’s tricky and expensive, but sometimes you just have to roll the dice,” he said.
The show also served to highlight a few of Elliott’s many collaborations, notably his long-standing one with Nike. The models sported some unreleased models of Elliott-designed LeBron Icon sneakers as well as two new women’s styles. Elliott offered a mash-up of his partnerships with Blackmeans leathers and Suicoke footwear by adding leather straps to the sandals worn at the show. And he also unveiled his latest collaboration — his entry into the jewelry category with Japanese brand M.A.R.S., which produced earrings, necklaces, rings and a chain wallet.
Elliott, who got his start in men’s wear in 2012, launched his first women’s collection last season, but the spring offering was much more complete, and less tethered to his men’s styles. While the repurposed denim jackets, French terry tops, slip dresses and lightweight trenches were all familiar and complementary to the men’s collection, they had a distinctly feminine edge.