More performance art than runway show, the Lou Dallas SS19 presentation was attended by a crowd seeming more ready for a swanky art gallery opening than a NYFW event. An audience sporting dyed hair, graphic t-shirts, tiny sunglasses, and berets convened in the East Village at St. Mark’s Church-In-The-Bowery, greeting each other with hugs and familiarities. That the Lou Dallas show had the ambiance of an art community more so than a fashion community is appropriate, as designer Rafaella Hanley has an art school background, with a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design.
The collection, entitled Water Bow, was replete with collared and flared dresses, frilly socks with loafers, high waistlines, oversized blazers paired with short-length biker shorts or skirts, and lots of bows, done in layers upon layers of dyed material, scaly patterns in earth tones accented with brighter shades of green and purple. The inspiration for this collection, Hanley said, was “about floating rags and water and worked it into the mermaid vibe and coming out of the water into Manhattan. Floating rag or floating boat in the water.”And Water Bow’s performance art-meets-runway show was something else entirely.
Hanley had teamed with friend and artist James K to present her SS19 collection and simultaneously premier K’s work “Venomist Choir,” which is a work exploring how voice can operate as a vessel and stage. To start, a woman in a green dress and pointe shoes danced at one end of the runway for about a minute as the soundtrack began to play. The soundtrack, by the way, was a collection of noises rather than music—with noises that sounded like snapping, chewing gum, rain, thunder, slurping, and burping. As the models strutted down the runway, popping bubblegum, they seemed almost childlike, with hair in braids with large bows and blue, green, or purple eyeshadow covering from lids to brows.