Eckhaus Latta Fall/Winter 2019

by Long Nguyen

There was a new breath of air blowing through the old aluminum Quonset hut deep in the heart of the still, slightly industrial feel of the upcoming Bushwick section of Brooklyn that lacked the modern high rise condominium construction that dotted the river banks of the borough.  In a very polished show that retained all the hallmarks of Eckhaus Latta, the designers sent out clothes that were carefully constructed with great attention on the finer details of tailoring especially on the silhouettes and volume of the tropical wool jackets, silk-nylon dresses and heavy woolen coats.  

Having established a very specific aesthetic and an alluring identity that espoused the shifting shapes of garments with a DIY homespun feel always worn and shown on ‘people’ of all tribes rather than just fashion models since their first outing in 2011 that broke many of the safe guardrails of fashion, Eckhaus and Latta now focused their attention on the quality of not just their design but of the physical garments themselves.  It was clear from this show that the designers understood that the value earned from being ‘cool’ and ‘avant-garde’ only carry a brand so far and that at the end of the day the products matter greatly. After all they have their own store in Lower Manhattan, opened last fall, on the other side of Chinatown on East Broadway. Not to mention the show at the Whitney Museum last summer where art photographers were shown along with products that viewers can take home.  

The first few exits of the show demonstrated the designers’ playful twists on tailoring with a sharp cut charcoal pinstripe, staggered pant with knee cut out and leg trimming to reveal a second layer of fabric underneath paired with an olive furry asymmetrical coat, a men’s grey pinstripe pantsuit with the three button jacket with side overlay as if part of the fabrics had been slashed to show the hidden pockets, and a women’s grey pinstripe jacket with a half jacket slit at the chest as if a cropped jacket sat on top of a longer jacket worn with patchwork knit pants.  The volume on the short aqua blue parachute dress or the long parachute gown were cut with precision that the dresses seemed to float on the models’ bodies as they walked by and the back of the dresses glided in the air behind the momentum of their footsteps. One of the denim jackets was perfect example of tailoring – for women it came in a suit with the puffy sleeve jacket cut in the front and back to emphasize the contours of the body.

There was a range of outerwear for both men and women – furry turtleneck coats, shiny belted three quarter length coats, and black broad shoulder belted wool coats – as well as knitwear that came as light pink crew neck, as multicolor patchwork jackets, pants or dresses, or as a puffy cropped cardigan. Those color and slash paint combination of fabrics wide leg jeans and the pink zig-zag pattern jeans were sure bets as their invention renditions of jeans had turned denim into the label’s bread and butter mainstay.  Less emphasis was placed on the gendered nature of the garments, this time the men and women’s clothes intermingled.

Balancing the art and commerce quotient of a fashion brand isn’t an easy formulation to concoct – how to establish a unique fashion vocabulary and also sell products on a larger scale - but Eckhaus Latta seemed to have strike that delicate equilibrium with this fall show that perhaps will herald their great leap forward on the commerce front without compromising the heart of their label. It’s true what the designers said with their message printed in red capital letters on the show notes left on the wooden chairs - ‘Sometimes life does not provide poetry’ – but that’s not true here for the show did give plenty of verses to satisfy many and plenty of new UGG shearling square toe heels and boots for many feet.

Photos courtesy of Nick DeLieto