NYFW: Newcomer Daniel Silverstain Channels Brazilian Futurism


Daniel Silverstain’s atelier is in a nondescript midtown building near the Fashion Institute of Technology. Disgruntled office workers waited alongside photographers, bloggers and stylists as the event staff scrolled through the guest list on their iPads. “Just let them up first,” one of them told the other through gritted teeth, as more people filled the vestibule, including the designer’s grandparents. This was the Israeli designer’s first New York Fashion Week show.

In the sparsely decorated white space, eight sylphlike supermodels (an appreciative nod to runway diversity) stood on a tiered stage, and in the second room there were another eight, all standing still except for a hand on hip here, a hair toss there.

They wore metallic boyfriend jeans, papery silk pleats in dresses or peplums, grid lace tuxedo sweatpants, translucent parkas and more, all characterized by ovals and straight lines. He dares to use neoprene, the polymer used for scuba suits and kids’ lunchboxes, on pencil skirts and Bordeaux embossed coats.

Silverstain’s vision is specific. “The 1960s in Brazil,” he told me. He cited the influence of — and despite people clamoring to talk with him — patiently recited the spellings of two architects: Oscar Niemeyar, whose civic buildings are iconic in the capital city of Brasilia, and Roberto Burle Marx, an ecologist famous for his landscape designs of various public parks.

“I am inspired by city planning and botanical gardens.” Once he said it, it was obvious. The 3D floral jacquards are intricate weaves of red, blue and grey that could also read as large tropical insects. The white tunic dress had a window-like section of what looked like water lilies from a distance, but, upon closer inspection, was an aerial photograph of a Brazilian carnival filled with tourists.

Futurism is consistent in Silverstain’s aesthetic, with sharp silhouettes and a lot of silver. The piece that proclaims it the loudest is an asymmetrical metallic blouse with papery pleats peeking out from underneath, paired with Rio red skinny jeans with reiterations of silver threads in geometric forms all down the front. Nail artist Patricia Yankee fittingly chose a hard, mirror lacquer so crisp that the models’ manicures held reflections of the audience.

Gigi Burris Millinery Revives a Dying Craft

A few avenues west at Gigi Burris Millinery, magnificent hats shaded the eyes of models who sat behind the windows of a leafy wooden display, looking luxuriously bored. We were at the rooftop garden of the McKittrick Hotel, at a show that couldn’t be further removed from Sleep No More, with Patsy Cline crackling in the background and canned Perrier dotting the hands of invitees.

The young designer, whose hats have been toted by Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Angelina Jolie, kept the Spring/Summer 2015 collection to four colors: black, white, wheat, and lapis.

While the hats are, rather obviously, daytime-oriented, there’s an element of cabaret and masquerade in Burris’s use of feathers, and especially in the way the hats cast dramatic shadows the models’ faces.

The stands in front of the models, topped with mannequin heads covered in dried leaves or pale daisies, wore panamas, fedoras, and “fascinators” — a lacey head covering somewhere between a hat and an ornate headband — with taffeta, racello braids, ostrich plume, chiffon flora and grosgrain. When words, like these, sound so vivid yet so alien, it’s a sure fire sign that the pieces belong to a craft of yore.

However, that doesn’t stop the young Ms. Burris from tinkering with modernity. Her headbands, which hung inconspicuously near the arched entryway, looked like elegant barbed wire. Her hats are influenced by Yves Klein and Robert Mapplethorpe’s early photographs of flowers and landscapes. Burris’s hats, like Mapplethorpe’s flowers, each seem to tell a story — and not just the light luncheon anecdotes exchanged by the rich people who can afford to wear them.