Telfar Clemens’s name may be new to you, but the downtown darling has been steadily growing a cult following among the most influential of NYC’s on-the dance floor-at-3am crowd. That’s largely due to the fact that this designer-by-day, DJ-by-night (a title he shares with close friend, Hood by Air‘s Shayne Oliver) has been tooling away at his collection for longer than many realize (eight years now!). While waiting to enter the Telfar presentation, we spotted Oliver–having just minutes before wrapped up his own stellar show— queuing to enter the Standard Hotel and show Clemens’s collection some love. Waiting alongside him was what looked like the entire Saturday night attendance of the legendary Ghetto Gothik fetes at which the two spin their electro-trill beats.
But inside the presentation, we would enjoy Clemens’s “solo set”–as model after (gorgeously sculpted) male-model rendered ideal embodiments of the Telfar man. Not cut from the conventional macho cloth, this dude is all about provocative eroticism subverted by a confident collapse of gendered, garment distinctions; his guys are hotties, whether they’re in rigid-denim jeans, amoebic-hemline skirts, or haltered-tanks.
All of the above were rendered in a muted palette of neutrals with jolts of black and white for graphic impact. It was a print-free story save for the finale walk, which featured t-shirts baring the images of the presentation’s cast of models, the creme-de-la-creme of Red Management’s roster.
As they trotted by, we took in the all the variations on ballet-vamp flats Clemens had developed for the presentation (some featured trinkets and charms that referenced both the legacy of Tiffany jewelry and the lavish extravagance of Versace excess). Maybe it’s evidence of his DJ chops, but one things for sure: Clemens is master of executing this sort of referential mash-up.
This season marks a huge increase in industry recognition for his deft hand at this skill that should most certainly not be taken lightly (remember how Henry Holland built his business?). We’re betting that Clemens–as Oliver has done–will in future seasons translate his high-concept, presentation-worthy togs into the type of merchandise that flies off shelves and onto the backs of cool kids internationally.