We stopped by Pier 59 to see the elaborate and stunning Berenik presentation for fall/winter 2017. Read the review!
Berenik was an unexpected masterpiece of NYFW this year. Before the show, I spoke with Veronika Brusa, lead designer. She mentioned the show would have fifty performers, not trained models. It wasn’t her first time working with crowds, but it was her first time dealing with a presentation format. “I figured, if I had an hour, I could work with that in a new way.” Sure enough, the Berenik fall/winter 2017 show was a throwback to a time of fashion which not many of us have had the pleasure to enjoy. The show indeed had fifty performers, initially arranged in an enormous circle, the show itself was a piece of performance art in its own right, turning fashion and the concept of the show into a matter of endurance and space. Quickly ritualized, the presentation involved an endlessly moving group, sometimes only a couple of performers free styling in the center of the group with everyone relaxing and looking on. But then they’d stand up, rejoin a circle, and the ordeal would start again.
It never felt exhausting, if you didn’t let it. It was thrilling. It was interesting to see how the clothes held up. How they reacted. Some models grew sweaty. Suddenly it felt like a communal effort, a moment of art, a happening. The designs were sensitive and varied, verging on vintage. Nylon, satin, leather, fur, beige coats, even a robe brought the show to a cohesive identity of modern hangover-induced styling (especially accented by the hair, literally half frizzled and crimped mess, half tastefully slicked down modernity. Some models hid behind enormous 80s square sunglasses and carried oversized boxy handbags, suggested less new purchase and more thrift store-find, the strap being draped over the shoulder. There was an indelible “cool” to this show, and seeing these oversized conventional outfits in the context of extremely high art was endlessly satisfying.
Perhaps unintentionally, the show called to mind some further ideas around clothing and the nature of fashion today. This was a test of patience and curiosity by both the crowd and performers. The average runway show today is seven minutes long. The presentations are an hour, with models resting occasionally, and very often standing still. The performers knew their chief task was to show clothes here. But also, a full commitment to the art. Seeing someone freestyle or pile into a slow-motion mosh pit of sorts, all while maintaining total composure, a particular hairstyle, even battling to stay graceful and artistic with a handbag religiously balancing on a shoulder, it was the dance of consumerism and dynamic patience, the desire to be one’s self while actin totally outside “polite society’s” standard. The sunglasses; the hair, all suggest a nonchalant approach to the performance, a willingness as requirement. And the endurance required, again willingness: to stay in the game until the end, should something just a little bit better come along.
After the show, I spoke briefly with creative director Veronika. She was hesitant to read into my interpretation of the show, but from the post-consumer eye, it was a total success. I couldn’t blame her. For her, it’s about selling clothes. But now I understood the meaning of an hour in fashion. Well used!
We spoke with Sharon, using NU EVOLUTION products to detail makeup.
“The look is really spontaneous, youthful, passionate, and painterly. It’s like a creative person saw a paintbrush and stroked it right across their face. It’s kind of interesting and impulsive. It’s kind of minimal. We’re using NU EVOLUTION foundation and concealer, then we’re using a white pigment and paintbrush, to press and slide the paint across the face. Then a NU EVOLUTION lipstick draped under the cheekbone. White and sheer and kind of mysterious look for the lips. It depends on the skin texture, so it’s very energetic, not precise.”