First of all my apologies for the meager selection of photos. I have so much I want to say about this collection but with a limited number of resources (since I have no way of attending these shows myself) I have to make do with what's available. While it may seem like a huge cop out I strongly urge you to see more photos from Chromat's amazing Fall 2015 collection on Instagram. Conceptually, this was the highlight of New York Fashion Week hands down. Other designers couldn't hold a candle to designer Becca McCharen's divine vision of artificial consciousness inspired by the New York magazine cover story featuring America's highest paid female CEO, Martine Rothblatt (who happens to also be transgender). Rothblatt who created a robot version of her wife complete with online and digital history lead McCharen to the conclusion that "...if we can recreate the human consciousness, there’s nothing we can’t digitally or synthetically reproduce... So that inspired our whole palette. Everything is synthetic: rubbers, latex, fake hair, fake fur, Swarovski crystals. They’re actually fake. Swarovski crystals are like a man-made version of what appears in nature."
That same level of critical thinking (both intellectual and socially aware) also went into the choice casting for the runway show. "I’m so against all white, straight, skinny girl runways," says McCharen. Indeed, during Fashion Week it can be easy to forget that the whole event does canvas a very European-centric idea of beauty which is to say the least, unrealistic for many audiences. To combat this a diversity of women with different ethnicity, gender expression and sizes stormed the runway. In response to the ideals of Fashion Week (i.e. able-bodied, white, tall, thin, often blond), "That just doesn’t reflect my reality and who I am and who the Chromat woman is. And so for every season, we’ve been all about strong, powerful women." It's very rarely that we see this sentiment expressed during Fashion Week and hopefully will act as a reminder to others to remain conscious as consumers and hold the brands accountable for social inequalities, particularly within the fashion industry.
With her creations worn by and alongside the likes of Beyonce (at her 2014 VMA performance) as well as Nicki Minaj and FKA Twigs it's not wonder that McCharen has a huge following. I think what is most outstanding and responsible for her success is a desire to connect with genuine fans and provide something which does not yet exist in fashion. Tumblr has become a safe-heaven for the LGBTI community and indeed that is how many Chromat fans know each other (the likes of Arabelle Sicardi and Jade Taylor). Unfortunately the majority of fashion brands and particularly those at Fashion Week seem to ignore these groups. Or what's even worse invite them to walk the runway as nothing more than a publicity stunt and passing trend. Let me make myself clear: Becca McCharen DOES NOT misrepresent these women and instead provides them a platform and place within the community. Her accessories and clothing are means of empowerment. So I implore you, if you are genuinely taken with her designs please buy direct from the site rather than those brands made in China.
1- Photo by Kate Owen for i-D Magazine, 2- photo by Evan Schreiber for DAZED Magazine and 3- by Koury Angelo. Photos 4- 23 by JP Yim/ Getty Images.