A self-proclaimed rheumatoid arthritis warrior, Michael Kuluva let his fighting spirit shine through in his Tumblr and Tipsy Spring/Summer 2018 Runway Show, which is the brand’s seventh consecutive season at New York Fashion Week.
The show was presented at Kia STYLE360 by CreakyJoints, a nonprofit that aims to support an online community of arthritis patients by creating education-, advocacy-, and research-based projects and services.
Tumbler and Tipsy sets itself apart as a brand that isn’t afraid to have some fun and break away from the attitude of sober elegance that prevails at New York Fashion Week. The female models twirled their long, bouncy pigtails as they strutted down the runway in neon bandeaus and tutus, while the male models flashed their sculpted torsos under military-inspired jackets, and all models sported dark, heavy eye makeup that looked almost like eye black, adding to the warrior-like tone of the show. The collection joined sexy and feminine styles like prom sashes, stilettos, and leopard print with lots of camo and primarily a khaki green color palette, creating a “bad girl” vibe that is complemented by the “bad boy” vibe given off by male models with combat boots glossy black paint smeared across their chests. Styles like silky, sequined bomber jackets and party-ready bodycon dresses were on trend and wearable while still risk-taking. The phrases “Troop Tips,” “Tipsy Squad,” and “Make S’mores Not Wars” were emblazoned on t-shirts, the backs of jackets, the prom sashes, and even across the crotches of shorts.
The performance put on by the models was as essential as the clothes themselves to communicating the daring, playful ambiance of the Tumbler and Tipsy “clique.” Two of the models high-fived while meeting in the middle of the runway, while others waved at the audience, did mini dances, and posed with cheeky swagger. The most powerful aspect of Kuluva’s project is that all of the people involved seem like they are comfortable in what they are wearing and genuinely having a good time, and whether or not you identify with the brand’s bold and frisky vibe, it makes you want live more boldly and join in on the fun.
For the grand finale, iconic transgender model Amanda Lepore rocked the runway in a deep-v leopard print dress, long leather gloves, and a corset-like leather belt accentuating her hourglass figure, a fitting bow on top of the fearlessly sensual package Kuluva delivered to audiences that day. Sharing on social media that he could barely even walk four days before the show due to his arthritis, Kuluva shows that with dedication and passion, people can do amazing things against enormous odds.
Photos by Reyna Wang