Guests arrived at Chelsea’s Eventi Hotel well into the party’s third hour, some to admire the art, others to mingle and drink. Near the entrance, a designer displayed jewelry made out of zippers. One performance artist in a zebra print fat suit fell to the floor and wrestled his way out of his clothes. Another – wearing a skin-tight, alligator-print body suit – struck a pose by the window. But the new fashions that were part of the evening’s entertainment weren’t on display inside the hotel. The only way to see them was to look on the wall outside.
Two stories above an open-air plaza on West 32nd Street, eight short films played on a continuous loop. Six of the films featured models wearing items fashioned out of straw, tablecloths and cupcake molds, among other “green” or recycled fare. The other two featured conceptual art.
“It’s Lady Gaga-ish, old-school-Madonna-ish, German opera,” said Liz Rottman, a graphic designer from Harlem who was on her way home from work. Originally planning to stop for a beer with friends, she found herself watching the films from their table for three hours.
The recent screening was just one stop on an international tour for “The Believers: Smashing Future Fashion,” a mixed-media collaborative project between emerging sustainable designers and Brussels-based La Fortuna Studio, which specializes in film and photography. Conceived in 2010 by filmmaker-photographer Javier Barcala, the project’s first incarnation had “Tribal Future” as its theme. The second project is called “Smashing Future Fashion,” and has traveled to Tokyo, London and Paris this year, in time for each city’s Fashion Week.
The Believers will release a third themed set of collections this spring, as well as films. Barcala, who directs the films, says they will be shown along with the collections in London and Antwerp in the spring. He hopes the project will return to New York to make another appearance.
“The goal of the [hotel] event was to give a first taste to the audience in New York City,” says Barcala. “ ‘The Believers’ stands for [how] sustainable fashion can be avant-garde, how it can be sexy and luxurious — and sustainable fashion is the future of what fashion should look like, and what the future of fashion should be about.”
Tired of seeing “dull” collections from sustainable brands, Barcala said he wants to prove that green can be glamorous.
“I wanted to show the two things together—avant-garde and environmental consciousness,” he said. “It’s all about experimenting and finding new ways to create fashion, very much related to new technology and innovations, so that’s why I linked it to the future of fashion.”
Upstairs at the party, artist Soli Pierce was especially taken with Kate Cusack’s zipper jewelry. (Cusack’s jewelry is not featured in the films.) Performance artist Raul de Nieves — the one who escaped the fat suit — contributed his boots, which he encased in colorful beads, to the event.
“I think sustainable fashion and a sustainable world is the only way we can go. To see this energy, enthusiasm and New York edge,” Pierce said, “is exciting and real.”
Bringing art out of the gallery and into the street is a good thing, said Barcala, but watching the films without audio meant getting only half the story. Those who missed the other half can watch the films — audio intact — online at youtube.com/lafortunatv.