Hood By Air SS14

It started off with a bold red shirt, bolder considering the history of this storied New York brand, whose ubiquity in streetwear and sweatshirts knows no bounds.  A succession of five shirt and trouser looks heeded a marked development in its aesthetic. Or did it? Hood By Air occupies its own universe. It is true to itself, its scene and nothing else. And so, the shirts were covered in the waxed brand imprints, ‘HBA’, HOOD BY AIR’ and ’69’. The brand imprints are usually a cheap tool, but the construction and thought evidently put into the clothes galvanised this sentiment, and gave a more dominant aura to the garments, different to earlier in the week. This was not a riff, more of a comment as they appeared countless times of countless items, obliterating any thought this you might have seen anything like Hood By Air before.

An abundance of zip-away items made of mesh, stiff fabric and denim enabled endless styling possibilities, and so the show never lost interest throughout the higher than usual 44 looks. Shayne Oliver likes to subvert well-known visual ideas into those of his own making, and this collection showed them best with elements of American masculinity, particular sport, war and power, being manifested to the point where references were hard to cite. An oversized silhouette enabled long but abbreviated shapes, seen in tunic tops with velcro fastenings worn with or without panelled shorts on men and women. It was easy to be absorbed by the futurism of a sort of meta-functionalism; where zips, velcro and press-studs were not only used to fasten but to stylise and transform the garments in relation to the model’s bodies. Depending on how they were used, shorts became skirts and jackets became dresses, vice-versa.

The only reference to explain the feeling of seeing the clothes in motion, via livestream, was that they seemed to inhabit an interzone, of concept and utility, and of both genders. The casting was so diverse, professional models outnumbered by ‘nodels’ – more exciting than walking clothes hangers could ever be. Makeup made to look like sunburn with braids and blown out dreadlocks, definitely redefined the relaxing notion of summer into something more gritty, but nevertheless compelling. As the looks came out, they kept asserting their power and confidence to the point where the collection became a full force of possibility for fashion, not only streetwear. Most memorable were the looks with tubular quilting that traced the human outline, that seemed to monopolise itself on the body, creating almost a different force. Shown in all white, it had a big impact.

Mr. Oliver has moved to a new strength with this collection by not proposing questions; giving only answers. Though they remained as boundary-pushing and irreverent as Hood By Air has always been.

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