More Beast than Beauty: Custo Barcelona
"The Hunger Games" collided with an upholstery factory at Custo Barcelona's fall 2013 ready to wear collection that premiered last week at Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week.
The designs were inspired by a bionic, sporty aesthetic to create the "beauty" portion of the collection, while an ethnic, ornamental aesthetic with large volumes, inspired by the hard Nordic winters, were meant to represent "the beast." The result was a heavy-handed collection that seemed to pull from too many influences to have any lasting impact.
Custo Barcelona is the combined creative force of brothers Custo and David Dalmau, who were motivated to create the brand after an extended trip around the world where they encountered a wide array of cultural and artistic expression. Originally suggested by the California surfer style, their designs have evolved to incorporate detailed printing and finishing techniques as well as graphic design.
The fall 2013 ready to wear collection highlighted fitted volumes, pronounced shoulders and ergonomic cuts along with mini and maxi sweaters. The patchwork jackets and unrestrained use of various fabrics sometimes felt as though the designers’ renderings were passed through a shredding machine and arbitrarily pieced back together.
The women’s collection also included formfitting overalls and special attention to the back, where large openings revealed vulnerability in the design that was otherwise overcome by large volume.
In contrast, the "beast" portion of the collection featured architectural and rounded geometry with an emphasis on the sleeves and spherical forms. The men’s military-style silhouette quickly became redundant, as if the same pattern was slightly tweaked and rebuilt in different fabrics. The metal, ornamental and tribal influence at times appeared like costumes from a regional theatre production of "Annie Get Your Gun" and at others times as if the jackets were duct taped together by an angry high schooler.
The weight of the collection hung heavily on the models, whose typical size zero didn’t do the garments any favors. Prior to the show, Custo told The Washington Post, "We are going to try to unite both extremes. We will create a language that flows from these two poles, the very beautiful and the bit beasty one."
Whatever language was created, perhaps it’s time to bring in a translator.
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