Area Spring 2022 Couture Collection

For all the places Area has taken us, around the world and to outer space, the nightclub has strangely never been a stop along the way. It was maybe too obvious to Piotr Panszczyk—Area is a brand rooted on crystal trim and sexy cut-outs. You get it, he doesn’t really need to spell it out. But wow, what a treat when he does. For its spring 2022 collection, Area finally delved into its showgirl roots, touching on the Deco glamour of Zizi Jeanmaire, the exuberant costumes of Brazilian Carnival, and the slouchy glitz of an off-duty Vegas dancer. “We are all showgirls,” Panszczyk said within Area’s new, Crosby Studios-designed showroom that is completely silver, ceiling to floor, save for an entirely gilded bathroom. (“Wouldn’t you be upset if the bathroom was just normal?” he said.) “And showgirls aren’t just about being pretty. It’s political, it’s about their bodies, and they are tough.”

The Follies Area are oozing sparkle—crystal pants, obsessive beading in every color of the rainbow, A-R-E-A spelled out in crystal on their thongs—but the spirit is different. No more thoughtless spangle, no flippant sexiness. In a video, Connie Fleming, Janet Jumbo, Sophie Koella, Precious Lee, Lulu Tenney, and Mariana Pardinho move like Mugler-inspired Barbarellas—rigid, assertive, almost threatening in their beauty. The clothes are as diverse as the women who wear them: Sweatsuits are feather-trimmed, baggy jeans have cut-outs on the thighs, and blazers are modeled on corset shapes, fastening with hook and eye closures. There’s no question: these are over-the-top pieces for a woman who knows what she wants.

When it comes to the couture elements of Area’s latest, props to Panszczyk for asking a question so demented it has surely never been asked before: What if Jean Arp was sexy and sparkly? Working with embroidery artisans in India, Panszczyk built bulbous bodies out of padding and strict seaming and had the artisans embroider them completely with beads, crystals, and sequins. Metal headpieces, tops, and jewelry were hand made by a German artist in Rome to evoke the tremble of feathers. The level of handwork is resplendent and amidst a NYFW of problem-solving clothes, it feels even more a delight to be in the presence of such unadulterated creativity. It’s also funny. As we sat on Area’s couch—a sectional composed of the puffy letters A R E A—and watched the film, Panszczyk screamed, “It’s giving bird!” about Lulu Tenney’s feathered boots. Fashion can be too self-serious; Panszczyk has hit his stride with this collection and isn’t afraid to giggle about it. Cheers all around!

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