Last September, models got into a mud fight at the closing of Elena Velez's show in East Williamsburg. The more it changes; This season, the pugnacious designer took on the Super Bowl, forgoing the usual runway presentation to host a salon and costume ball on Fifth Avenue, directly across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in what was once The American Irish. Historical Society. And so, instead of Allegiant Stadium, there was the Upper East Side; and instead of hot wings and beer, appetizers and elegant cocktails. It was clear that culture (intellectual and “libtard”), rather than fashion, was the focus of this event, although Velez created custom looks for attendees mingling with the crowd. “It's not a commercial season for me, it's more of a world-building exercise,” she said, “more of an experience of what it means to be affiliated with the brand and a very strong definition of our values.”
Dedication to craftsmanship and artisans is at the heart of the brand's philosophy. Milwaukee-born Velez, who positions herself as an outsider and is often characterized, much to her chagrin, as provocative, is concerned about what she likes to call “geographic condescension,” which is largely confused with class, and which is easy. presumably, she did the experience herself. “My purest goal as a brand,” she said, “is to really bring a lost Midwestern woman back to the American cultural narrative.” More broadly, the designer “calls for a more multidimensional representation of femininity, good and bad; one who accepts the difficult, complicated, ugly truth of being a woman as part of the beauty that makes us whole and complete and 360°. It’s a character journey that sometimes goes through an antagonistic journey, but ultimately resolves with meaning and goodwill.
She is right to ask for more nuanced readings of femininity in fashion. It often happens that creators' descriptions of “their woman” sound like Sex and the city character sketches – or this year, swans. The “office at dinner” archetype is overused, especially since Ozempic has made the food sadly old-fashioned.
Velez hasn't completely abandoned the track. “It’s fun and visceral, but I also care about the storytelling and research I put into my work and think that deserves an equally celebratory experience,” she said. However, she opted for an intimate salon this season because she was looking, she says, for a way to “do something that seems relevant and that looks like a concrete proposal for what I want to see in today's world and now “. (Depending on how this idea evolves, the salon could become a recurring part of the designer's practice.)