At Chelsea’s Starrett-Lehigh Building on Sunday, Area’s New York Fashion Week spectacle offered a commentary on the play between “viewing and being viewed.” For Spring/Summer 2024, designers Piotrek Panszczyk and Beckett Fogg shaped their creations around the perspectives of their own audience, in both ready-to-wear and couture forms. The show notes, which mimicked the formatting of a doctor’s eye exam, clearly instructed onlookers on how to perceive their work: “take note of the importance of wardrobe where we explore the dynamics of essentials and the extraordinary, as our designs reconstruct the interconnection between eyes, fashion and the observers who play an integral part in shaping the narrative.”
Area’s fundamental codes — expressive craftsmanship, material innovation and advanced embellishment — were galvanized by 1920s cartoon eyes. The brand adorned a slew of surrealist ensembles with googly globes that lent stylization from ‘60s pop art. Halter tops were formed from a collage of pupils; balaclavas enlisted legions of eyeballs to cover models’ heads, and bodysuits similarly employed the sartorial peepers to carve out the human form, leaving space to expose the chest.
The eye motif became the starting for more expressive iconography — dalmatian spots, blooming flowers and crystal eyelets — on several imaginative pieces. Floral petals were left uncovered in their centers, offering glimpses of the body in atypical locations, while glittering gems fueled denim get-ups with the imprint’s penchant for opulence. In true couture fashion, Area crafted an entire ensemble from the beaming jewels, which made their presence widely apparent as they collided with one another in motion. In the final ensembles, fashion design became sculptural: gold metal circles created gaping holes into otherwise formal gowns, and in them, crystals mimicked pupils looking out onto the world before them.
“Beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder, but also in the shared experience between the artist and the audience,” the brand wrote in conclusion. Here, Area proves that it has a close watch on its consumer, perhaps just as much as the consumer does on them.
See Area’s Spring/Summer 2024 ready-to-wear and couture collection in the gallery above, and stay tuned to Hypebeast for more New York Fashion Week coverage.