AS SOMEONE visiting New York for the first time, the address on Collina Strada‘s show invite didn’t faze me. Unlike the New Yorkers sitting beside me at the show, my understanding of location was admittedly sparse and ultimately, venturing to the depths of Brooklyn was interesting for me, even despite wearing kitten heels in the aftermath of a thunderstorm.
When we took our seats at the venue, situated on the rooftop of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a shipyard and industrial complex, the magic of Collina Strada’s influence was solidified. This was a show that everyone who was anyone would travel for.
It was a magnificently pioneering show. Wading through the leafy rooftop allotment to find a catwalk decorated by abstract colourful bouquets, offered an alien reflection to the natural essence of the surroundings. This unusual parallel would similarly echo within the framework of the looks, in which creative director Hillary Taymour used AI to design the collection.
Doing so at a time when creatives are grappling with the threat that AI poses to their work makes this collection revolutionary. Feeding the AI machine with Collina’s Strada’s previous collections, the SS24 collection was a culmination of the 7 weeks of back and forth that was born from this experiment.
It resulted in a condensed display of Collina Strada’s most notable work, featuring an amalgamation of ruffles, draping, asymmetric cuts and corsetry. Floral ball skirts bounced down the runway, layers of organza rippled against the ankles of the front row, and clusters of lace exploded from the hips of gowns.
Battling the algorithm’s penchant for imaginary draping was a feat for the design team behind the brand, and figuring out how to construct the fanciful pieces that it put forward was an even greater one.
Taymour is always keen to stress that Collina Strada ‘isn’t just a fashion label’, but also a platform for social issues and awareness, and the use of Ai was a demonstrator of this. The show’s title Why are we here? The world’s on fire was another.
“As we grin and bear the excruciating present, in which the world burns and reproductive, trans and general human rights are under threat, we summon the strength of radical softness to defend ourselves”, Taymour said in the show notes. The catwalk became a physical symbol of this, seemingly casting a spell on the models.
As each model graced the runway, their first step was met by a transformative switch to the character of their walk. Hands clenched into fists and became tightly held by their hips, an animated grin strained into action, and their walk became vigorous, all until they reached the end of the catwalk, in which everything was dropped and they assumed their ‘real’ face once more.
It was incredibly captivating and meant to reflect the frustration the youth of today feel about the way our world is being treated. The ‘This Is Fine’ meme was supposedly a specific inspiration of this and this nod to the cultural zeitgeist of her younger audience is yet another way in which Taymour displayed her extensive spirit.
Featuring an incredible cast, including Hari Net, Glass Man cover star Tommy Dorfman, Glass cover star Jazelle, Aaron Rose Philip, Georgia Palmer and Nassia Matsa among others, and joined by a conclusive orange sunset as Hillary Taymour took her bow, and the charm was irresistible.
Any quibbles about the journey time from New Yorkers beside me were now replaced by flurries of praise and a spellbound smile as we said our goodbyes to the foliage, now swathed in a glistening sunset glow, and made our descent back to reality.
by Lily Rimmer