Mexican born designer, Barbara Sanchez Kane, moves fluidly and forthright as she navigates this culture of globalism that we are seemingly moving towards, but she is not blind to the fact that these changes in thought and culture have not yet swept the place she knows to be home. In her second showing at NYFW the designer chose to use the runway as a platform for education and her collection, “Artesanal Sex Shop”, as conversation, as she tackled sexual oppression in the face of Mexican devotion to Catholicism. In an interview with Paper Mag, Sanchez Kane stated that the collection was “for school boys” who might feel smothered and unsure of their own becoming due to the lack of sexual education in their home country. Unable to talk openly about the inevitable changes in their bodies and minds as boys become men, this sense of “machismo” that Sanchez Kane has spoken about before festers. Young men are forced to overcompensate for their inability to express themselves as they define their masculinity through the reification of stereotypical notions of masculinity.
The show began with two dancers in orange chaps and jockstraps surely reminiscent of the days of tighty-whitey’s and wet dreams. Made vulnerable with backsides bear, they moved fluidly to sounds engineered by Naafi around giant penis shaped structures, simulating the act of masturbation, which is considered a taboo. Models donned condom-capped headwear, nipples were made visible through tailored work shirts, a pair of models connected by their hair moved prophetically down the runway. Sounds of shattering glass rang out twice throughout the performance and even without a clear sight of what was broken, we can imply that in Sanchez Kane’s mind, it was the very societal norms that have kept Mexican youth under the guise of shame and estrangement from the parts of themselves that define their humanity. During the finale, the two dancers found one another in a moment of solidarity they embraced with eyes closed. This gesture is a mirror for what Sanchez Kane hopes the future of Mexican youth will look like. As she routinely casts Latino-only shows, there is hope that those at home watching can see themselves in what may seem like subversion, only to realize that this is their awakening, this is healing, this is the power of fashion.