With an old awning advertising Kunst Electrical Appliances, Asia Song Society is a long ways away from Bryant Park. And yet, the Lower East Side storefront has its own quirky charm, making it a perfect location for Teddy Willoughby‘s “Bland,” a multi-part installation, fashion presentation and “meditation on the nebulous contours of blackness, absence, and light.”
Willoughby’s all-black womenswear collection is illuminated with a strobe light, emphasizing the collection’s mixed references to both campy horror film and complex noir. The designs are extraordinarily elaborate, with details hidden beneath other details: metal studs, coursetry and rivets, buried beneath drapes of jersey cloth and black lace. The designs are abrasive and intense, but ultimately functional and highly wearable. “These things are the random diarrhea of my brain,” Willoughby admitted at the fashion week presentation, which took place on Friday February 13th. “But these are things I imagine my girlfriend could wear to work.”
This attitude of avant-accessibility is a theme for the autumn/winter ’09 collections, which do not have room for aesthetically provocative designs that don’t also have a practical function. The garments have to exist in the real world, not just on display in someone’s closet or at a cocktail party. That said, Willoughby manages to make functionality alluring—even wonderfully terrifying. Of this highly refined yet restrained experimentation, Willoughby explains: “You have to make the designs a little different because you don’t want to look like someone else.”
Like the storefront awning of Asia Song Society, the name “Bland” is highly ironic—there is truly nothing dull about the collection at all. The collection is on display at Asia Song Society now through February 20.
Asia Song Society: 45 Canal Street, New York, NY