Sies Marjan does rural eco fashion in the skies above Manhattan
It was all about the materials at Sies Marjan on Sunday, the most significant European designer showing in New York this season.
Novel and artisanal fabrics were worn by a cast that walked around the 54th floor of the brand new One Manhattan West building, a curvy skyscraper built two blocks west of Penn Station. Yet the blend of revolutionary fabric techniques, eye-popping biodynamic dyes and truly novel silhouettes meant the audience kept their focus on the collection and not on the view – a truly beautiful late afternoon vision of quite literally the majority of the island of Manhattan under a moody winter sky.
Marjan confessed his big inspiration this season was Dutch architect and fashion insider Rem Koolhaas, and his forthcoming exhibition in the Guggenheim Museum, named “Countryside, The Future.”
This helped inject a rugged mood into this collection, notably with some great Donegal tweed, hailing from Ireland’s most remote county; and some hand-finished sweaters, courtesy of a family-owned factory on the Channel Island of Guernsey.
Marjan played on traditional rural workwear but he is such a naturally inventive designer that his dropped waists, angle seams and floaty volumes meant nothing looked remotely predictable or hackneyed.
He opened with some brilliant battered gold looks – a long crinkly sheath and a remarkable cheongsam, both worn by models carrying ginormous military kit bags in matching gold.
There were all sorts of unlikely dyeing finishes, one in particular from foliage found upstate in Ithaca which looked almost alive. Others – the result of a collaboration with Dutch textile artist Claudy Jongstra and visual artist Diana Scherer – turned root systems into tangled fabrics and looked pretty remarkable.
In a co-ed show he also sent out some craftily tailored suits with oversized double-breasted jackets, including one in a dark shamrock that was worthy of a Grammy winner.
Most of the cast walked in clogs some with beveled platform heels, underlining this ode to rural ecology.
Marjan has grown to become one of the most celebrated of fashion’s current avant garde, and rightly so. Moreover, where in previous collection his color palette could sometimes be insipid, this range of hues was in full bloom.
In a word, excellent experimental fashion that brought the New York runway weekend alive.
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