Hood by Air is about to take over the world, and if creative director Shayne Oliver has anything to say about it, you’d better brace yourself for a coup. The designer has turned into a something of a darling thanks to the elevated street codes and bold graphicness of his clothes. And Oliver is taking the success and popularity his line has gleaned and bringing his vision to the world. He showed his collection for spring 2015 in New York during Fashion Week, and then again in Paris – a presentation as opposed to a runway show. Who would have thought fashion would have embraced streetwear in this way, that a line whose aesthetic is rooted in the hood would be showing in Paris at all? It is truly an amazing thing, to see high fashion and street culture come together in this way.
Last night, Hood by Air fêted its success at the Museum of Modern Art for the museum’s Pop Rally series with a multimedia installation and performance. The ticketed event brought together some of the line’s muses and collaborators, like muse Ian Isiah, who performed in a go-go cage set up in the center of the museum’s lobby. He chanted to the music, swinging his locks saying, “I really want to go, but I can’t mess up my hair,” a sentiment we’ve all felt at one point or another. The crowd, a mix of fashion industry folk, museum members, Hood by Air fanboys and just your round the way crop of “weird kids” spilled into the entire MoMA lobby, which was also outfitted with a stage, the DJ in the center behind mesh netting.
The affair was less of a presentation and more of a party – free alcohol flowed and lasted nearly all night, to ticketed partygoers’ great delight – not a bad deal for a $25 entry fee. Trap music pulsed from the speakers and folks were getting down. It was unlike anything you’d expect to see at the MoMA -- more like a Brooklyn warehouse party than a MoMA event. Scenester revelers started an impromptu twerk circle, and one, um, enthusiastic guest tried to get a mosh pit going. The smell of blunt smoke wafted through the air. Someone broke a bottle. It was a mélange of culture, which we think is probably what Oliver was going for. “This isn’t a MoMA party. This is a Hood by Air party,” a member of the museum staff said.
Mykki Blanco, a friend to Hood by Air, delivered a lively performance, for which we were front and center. And the rapper held nothing back – he climbed the rafters, dashed into the crowd and demanded that we make a circle around him to watch him do his thing. The circle was surprisingly civil – there were plenty of young kids in the crowd, a few we had the sneaking suspicion were well below the legal drinking age. But save for one too-drunk lad who wound up breaking two bottles (not cool, dude, whomever you are), it went over without getting too crazy. The clothes certainly weren’t the focus of the event, although there was a presentation of sorts towards the end, when HBA-clad models swept the stage. One fellow came down in white separates, his shirt boasting a long, bridal-esque train.
After last night, Hood by Air’s vision couldn’t be clearer. Oliver seems to be quite aware of the worlds he straddles. There’s the hip alterna-hood pack he runs with and the fashion elite that has embraced him. Oliver brought this reality to life last night, and it looks like we’ll have to get used to his vision – it’s clearly here to stay.