Yesterday, for the first time in my short NYFW attendance history, I attended Collina Strada’s runway show. Having heard about last season’s offering, where post-apocalyptic-looking models strolled in earth-child garb whilst sipping from reusable bottles and carrying babies a la Rudy on a runway littered with coke cans, I said to myself: “I MUST attend next time.” As luck would have it, Elizabeth Tamkin scored me a ticket, front row. Please enjoy my play-by-play journey below.
Within two minutes of my arrival at the Spring/Summer 2020 Collina Strada show, I have a fresh mosquito bite swelling on my leg. The show is next to Stuyvesant Square park, which I have never been to in my life. Birds chirping, dogs barking, mosquitos biting. Nature adores me!
I tug on the emergency shorts I bought earlier that day from Aritzia after realizing my breezy dress wouldn’t sleep until it had exposed my panties to the world. I notice that all along the side of the “runway,” if you will, is a bevy of fruit and veggies, fat loaves of bread. I’m tempted to grab an orange, but I find my seat instead and, as one does, sit alone with my cellular device looking at Slack and memes for a few minutes.
But wait, the show notes! I have to write them here, because even if the rest of what I say is bananas (literally), I found this passage written by Collina Strada’s designer, Hillary Taymour, to be lovely, important, promising: “Sustainability is a journey, not a destination. In this climate crisis, I am struggling to figure out how to be as responsible & transparent as possible. I’m learning daily about how to build better business practices and design with consciousness. As the Amazon continues to burn, let’s reflect today on how we produce & consume our food. Unconventional fruit tastes even sweeter.”
The show’s start time is technically 5 p.m., but I’ve learned that a fashion week start time is as good as a suggestion for when the early crowd should arrive. From where I’m sitting, I note that Eva Chen, Mecca James-Williams, and Courtney Trop are all looking divine. Isn’t it weird when you see people you know who don’t know you? I guess it isn’t weird because that’s a universal sentiment and 9 times out of 10 those people would be great/cool if you said hi, but I’m still sitting like a kid who really wants someone to come play marbles, but is too shy to go ask Suzie.
The only dog I’ve seen inside the perimeter of the show space is walking straight toward me. Homina homina. Her owner sits down next to me and she nestles at my feet with her cute little red bandana wrapped askew around her neck. She gives me big baby eyes and I want to bundle her up and walk off into the sunset.
Harling slides in at the last minute and squeezes into the seat next to me! Not all heroes wear capes.
The show opens with dreamy vocals from Zsela, singing live. When the first model walks down the runway, wearing a powder blue crushed velvet midi-dress with two printed shirts layered over it, their gait is so casual I almost mistake it for someone who is just late to the show. They deviate from their path to grab an orange and immediately start peeling it. Another model—an older woman—follows, carrying a bunch of grapes she’s plucking and popping into her mouth the whole time.
A woman wearing printed drawstring pants and bead-bedazzled sandals walks out with a truly tiny bébé! I think it’s fun when babies are included in shows, but I also wonder if they’d rather be doing baby stuff?
It’s me, so you know I’m looking at the shoes. All of them are HOKA sneakers, which I saw in the show notes, but they’ve all been swiped with paint, embellished with rhinestones, wrapped in deadstock fabric, hot glued with beads. I desperately want a pair and plan to make them this weekend. Who’s coming, no RSVP necessary.
A model walks by in a teeny-tiny halter dress and complementary rhinestone nipple covers and she has SO much cupping on her back. Holy cannoli, I feel sore just looking at her.
The way people are walking makes this show feel more like people-watching on a sidewalk bench than attending a show. This is Hillary Taymour’s world, I’m just sitting in it. The models are picking squash and laughing over kale in various flowing “hippie” wares. Zsela sings: “We’re living on a dying planet and anyone who tries to deny wears a suit and tie and gets paid to lie.”
A man STOMPS, Vaquera FW19-style, down the runway in a tank with embellished flowers around the nipples carrying a dog that’s bouncing recklessly in his arms. Don’t talk to me or my son ever again. My friend later asked me if it was a stuffed raccoon.
An older woman walks down the runway with a curly-haired toddler holding on to the string of her white jersey dress, which looks like her compatriot might have drawn on. I love a garment that’s form and function: dress and toddler leash.
ACH! A naked woman streaks through the scene with words painted on her that frankly I can’t read because she’s moving too fast. She grabs a squash and tosses it over her shoulder as she sails past the photographers. Harling and I smirk as we watch her make a U-turn into the park where someone hands her a coat and she walks back to the “backstage” area lolol.
A model walks down and back in glittering green separates and, WAIT, she’s grabbing the mic and she’s singing and what? It’s the Canadian/Colombian synth-pop singer Tei Shi! The tempo is more upbeat. We’ve got dancing:
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That’s a wrap on rhinestone nipple covers, print power-clashing, and fuschia silk dresses! Our show notes were served with a reusable bag from Baggu, urging us to take the produce after the show, with the rest being donated. I see fellow attendees in lime green sparkle pants and tie-dye vests with kale and carrot greens spilling out of their bags.
After some reflection, I’ve realized that I would happily wear a heckuva lot of this collection—especially the floral blazer, flowing printed pants, and the wild-child HOKAs. Most importantly, I appreciate the fact that nearly all of it—excepting the brand’s jersey pieces for which they’re urgently seeking a sustainable alternative—is made from deadstock fabric. Collina Strada is a brand that’s trying to do right by 2019 by delivering a vision of a world in which you can, too.
Thoughts on the show? Anything else you’re itching to know? I’m here in the comments and yours, boo, always.
Photos via Vogue Runway.