Theater archives

Harrell Mines Detritus From the Worlds of Fashion and ’80s Fiction


Trajal Harrell’s riffs on the peculiar genre of the runway went into the Mixmaster with characters from Bret Easton Ellis’s novel Less Than Zero, from which Harrell took his title. The result, a perplexing exercise teetering between satire and worship, contained some rewards. The grotesque parade on the catwalk mirrored the fashion world’s penchant for exaggeration—overcrossing each step, thrusting hips side to side, and torquing shoulders violently. Harrell (who designed the mesmerizing schizo sound and, with Joseph Carter, costumes) shot the audience withering glances and joined high-stepping Eric Pettigrew, blonde cipher Anne Pinomaki-Ballantyne, and game Rob Stupay as an outsider student who strutted nude and jogged laps around Erik Flatmo’s cool set of photo backdrops. Those who look to fashion for spiritual enrichment might have been miffed; the rest of us smirked in bemusement.