FWLV: Fresh Wear! and the White Chair by Roger Talley

The newest season of Fashion Week Las Vegas began with four shows on August 18, 2014. Like most fashion weeks, Fashion Week Las Vegas is mostly about women’s wear. That’s what the audience comes to see, and what they are likely to find most memorable. A Bill Blass menswear show can border on soporific, particularly if the audience is mostly there for something else.

The designers at Fresh Wear! understand that. They weren’t going to come all the way from Randfontein, South Africa just to bore their audience. So no conservative suits. Their show was colorful, made heavy use of bright colors and patterns, and mostly of casual wear. The suits shown included one with a strong, colorful pattern, a solid, bright color, and a silver-metallic fabric. They say the concept behind the brand is breaking boundaries and thinking out of the box.

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Now, about that white chair. At Fashion Week Las Vegas the same venue is used for all the shows, and after each one there is a break while the next one is readied. It’s common for models, stagehands and others to walk across the back of the stage for all kinds of reasons. So the announcement for the Fresh Wear! show is made, the audience takes their seats, and the anticipation begins. Almost invisible at the deepest part of the runway is a white chair leaning up against the white background. Someone left it behind by mistake, perhaps? Soon someone comes out to retrieve it. Except he doesn’t. He sits in the chair. And the first model comes out and starts walking down the runway. This is unusual, and the audience starts to wonder what is happening. Raul the model, wearing pastel blue shorts and carrying something else in the same color, completes his runway walk, and then goes to the man sitting in the chair. Meanwhile the next model comes out to begin his walk.

Over the course of the show Raul walks down the runway four times, each time with a different configuration of those clothes. The man in the chair is the designer, and he is adding pieces to Raul’s outfit with every pass. Meanwhile the show goes on, and it includes another innovation. Some of the garments are reversible. What better way to show that than to have the models take them off on stage and turn them inside out, put them back on and walk down the runway again after other models have taken their turn. It’s a presentation technique cleverly designed to keep the audience’s attention, and it works, although there is a down side. Many in the crowd were more interested in watching Walker take his pants off and put them back on again than they were in watching Nick walk down the runway in a silver suit. But it was a show, and a presentation that worked. A quick survey of the audience found it far more memorable than other menswear shows they had seen.

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Images by Roger Talley

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