Tuesday night, 24-year-old Asher Levine showed his Fall 2013 unisex collection at MMAC (a dance school) in New York. The choice of location seemed perfectly suited to the designer and his evident ambition: off-site but in proximity to Lincoln Center; cool but also scrappy and accessible.
It was exciting to see someone so young put on such a serious show at New York Fashion Week, but Levine’s not exactly a newbie: He designed his first collection for his eponymous label within a heartbeat of finishing his BA at Pace, for Fall 2010. He went on to some measure of media fame, getting the kind of breathless write-ups from downtown-y publications like Paper and Blackbook that made it possible for him to expand his label to a staff of thirty-five (!) and continue to hammer out collections. Levine is most commonly associated with a kind of rock alt design scene — think The Blonds, Johnny Weir, Richie Rich. But he’s most famous for (and I didn’t want to say this right away, because it’s the sort of thing that can overshadow all other accomplishments) having been hand-picked by stylist and designer Nicola Formichetti to dress Lady Gaga. We’re not exactly talking obscurity here.
So the clothes: If I were to imagine the kind of person Levine had in mind when he was designing his Fall 2013 collection, I’d imagine a warrior who lives in a dark fantasy world populated by bats and skulls and giant fanged caterpillar ghosts and the only way he can battle these monsters is by rocking out. I can see why Formichetti, specifically, would have been drawn to Levine, but if I were to guess, the young designer’s ambition more likely tracks someone like Alexander McQueen or Rick Owens — the influence of both designers was felt.
Some pieces stood out: a black leather jacket with a ruched back, oversized clawlike gloves, an uberstructured weekend bag (Asher Levine’s first-ever bag) covered with dulled-down studs (which recurred throughout the collection), like an exoskeleton. The designer explained that he was trying to “fuse futuristic silhouettes with classic style.”
After the show, audience members got a better look at the clothes and Levine himself had a chance to talk about the technological component of his collection. The label has partnered with Phone Halo to embed a Bluetooth chip in some of the premium pieces. The chip can pair with a smart phone and work as a tracking device so you’ll never, as Levine explained, lose your jacket “at the club.”
The thought of having tracking devices in all of my clothing is a little too #dystopicfuture for my taste and anyway, I don’t lose clothing often enough to feel like the situation warrants Bluetooth, but none of that matters. It’s not about the tracking device, it’s about the designer’s ambition — his willingness to throw stuff at the wall to see what sticks, to get people’s attention. I keep using the word “ambition” because in Levine’s case, it’s the relevant one.
Images via Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images for Asher Levine.
Related: Asher Levine Displays a New Look
(Pssst … check out more runway coverage at the TFS Fashion Week hub.)