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In an event that was half falling down the rabbit hole and half "Nevermore," the Southwest was transported to West 18th Street yesterday with the presentation of Gretchen Jones's Fall/Winter 2012 collection at New York Fashion Week.
The Southwest as seen through the eyes of Louis Carroll and Edgar Allen Poe, that is.
Inspired by Poe's poem "The Raven" and Carroll's novel Through the Looking Glass, with Nico’s album Desertshore acting as the backbone, Brooklyn-based designer (and winner of "Project Runway" Season 8) Jones transformed Chelsea’s ROOT(Drive-In) into a haunting installment.
Dark, with dramatic splashes of light illuminating slivers of the models, often times their faces completely obscured by shadow -- the mood would have been downright somber if not for the sumptuous textiles, engaging hues, and captivating jewelry. Instead, it was dreamy and evocative; darkness filled with serenity and hope.
That the designer is mourning the recent loss of her father, Robert (for whom the show was dedicated), was evident. But Jones's grief, as expressed in this collection, feels imbued with the magical and mystical, rather than dour Victorian mourning.
Native American Meets 1940s’ New Yorker
Positioned around a medicine wheel fashioned from charcoal, sand, gems, and rocks on the floor, the 16 models displayed a variety of looks that take Southwestern traditions and Mexican lore to new levels. Long skirts, basket-weave textures, snakeskin and ikat prints, dark florals, earthy tones, and brushed wool were accentuated with dramatic jewelry, wool hats and clunky boots. Native American meets 1940s New Yorker, with splashes of modern Bohemian thrown in.
Custom Digital Prints with Eco-dye, Made in the U.S.AAnd as always, Jones's ethical principles were in full force. She partnered with Save the Garment Center, a NYC-based organization focusing on ethical business practices. The collection was entirely made in the United States, and all of her self-designed digital print fabrics were created at eco-friendly dye house AirDye, using a technology that uses minimal water and emits a modicum of waste.
Gems and stones were present throughout, from geode-like rocks on the floor to the names of the collection's components to the heavy reliance of vintage Hopi, Navajo, and Zuni jewelry (antique Indian jewelry was supplied by Ian Kennedy), such as the squash blossom necklace seen above.
Nail strips that looked like turquoise were applied to fingernails.
Wool hats, made in collaboration with Little Doe, provided a vogue twist to the 1970s romantic-desert feel.
A burnt-orange fabric which mimicked a basket weave was used on several occasions, sometimes embellished with bone beads.
Square-toed Durango ankle boots completed each of the looks, practical footwear for Southwestern girls who find themselves chasing rabbits.