What may be Ammerman Schlösberg's most conceptually exciting collection to date featured a colourful cast of bruised and bloodied beauties a la 'Girl Interrupted'. The standout from New York Fashion Week wowed the crowds with its otherworldly ties to the Lolita gore subculture and penchant for all things macabre. Guests were greeted at the door by a Lolita nurse with short pink hair alluding to the sickly aesthetic of the collection. The collection entitled "Furry Hospitals" was the perfect culmination of Japanese style gore and homage to the Ammerman family's connection to the medical industry. It reminds me a lot of the mall goth aesthetic I found so fascinating during my teenage years but avoided under fear of retribution. Things like Happy Tree Friends and Emily the Strange immediately come to mind upon seeing a simple black hooded jumper, red fishnets and fake fox tails hanging lifelessly from their skirts.
Unlike many other designers who only appear at the end of a runway show in a hurry both Eric Schlösberg and Elizabeth Ammerman used the occasion as an opportunity to blend in amongst their creations. We often forget that some of the best and most talented designers are also interested in their own development and personal style. Or that each fashion collection is a reflection of who they are and the influences of different subcultures as is the case for Ammerman Schlösberg. The knee high dominatrix boots in contrast to Elizabeth Ammerman's own Vivienne Westwood platforms highlighted the diversity existing within the single subculture. While someone might describe the patent leather boots as trashy (due to its affinity with kinks) they could also come to admire the ribbon ties of the maroon platforms. What was most impressive about this collection was its ability to highlight to someone uninterested in Lolita as a whole, how beauty could be balanced with fake blood and bandages.
As with all good collections it was the little things such as hand-stitched Swiss style cross, contrasting thread mimicking actual stitches, face masks and eye patches which really contributed to the gory undertones. Growing up in Australia I never really understood what the deal was with face masks. Sure they're there to prevent airborne germs causing sickness but when they became customized and cute I became alarmed. Humans have the tendency to become scared of something they don't quite understand but in a sea of battered and bruised faces I came to understand these accessories. I loved the pasty skin and fake black eyes painted in eyeshadow as well as the dripping globular blood. The eye patches then reminded me of Elle Driver, possibly the best badass villain from the imagination of Quentin Tarantino and the madness and strength of women. In that way it was kind of transformative in that these characters were either the fiercest looking entourage from a hospital ward ever, or recovering from a well-choreographed battle.
Something I didn't pick up on until reading other reviews floating around on the Internet was the Eastern influence of traditional cheongsam dresses and asymmetry. In fact it wasn't until I double checked through the photos a second time that I saw the ghostly figure of schoolgirl silhouette. Of course I felt really silly to not recognize it immediately but somehow amongst the bedroom robes, mesh dresses and folded arms I didn't get the message. It's hard to believe that the two designers Eric Schlösberg and Elizabeth Ammerman hadn't visited Japan, their spiritual home until late last year given its significant influence on their work to date. Amongst the designers shown so far at Fashion Week they seem like the biggest proponents for modern Eastern influences but their collections is by no means a closet full of costume-like caricatures. It is, rather the translation and reinvention of popular culture flavoured with personal style and aesthetic. In some ways it is an exaggeration and yet there are some elements which could have sprung from FRUiTS itself. In any case I'm super excited for flu season and any old excuse to wear plaster bandages now.