New York Fashion Week Goes Local: Couture in Bushwick

Julez Smith Jr. makes his runway debut at Luar's 2024 Show./Giovanni Giannoni for Women's Wear Daily

By Amira Turner 

 

   This past week marked the 79th annual Spring New York Fashion Week (NYFW). Dating back to World War II, NYFW has served as a press week to showcase international fashion designers, fashion journalists, and fashion enthusiasts alike. NYFW was originally established by fashion publicist Elanore Lambert, and held in Midtown Manhattan at the Plaza Hotel, and has since ballooned in popularity and reverence. 

  Historically, NYFW festivities revolved around Manhattan, especially the final show of the season. The closing show for the season typically carries the most clout in the fashion world. These shows are often reserved for legacy brands like Tommy Hillfiger, and hosted in Midtown Manhattan. This year, the closing show of the season took place right here in Brooklyn. 

   Up-and-coming fashion brand Laur hosted their Fall 2024 show in a warehouse in the heart of Bushwick on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Raul Lopez, the designer behind Luar, is a Brooklyn native from a working class Jewish and Dominican family. Lopez has kept Luar close to his roots, running the brand out of an office in Industry City, Brooklyn. Lopez made his debut in the fashion industry in 2006 as the co-founder of a streetwear brand named Hood by Air. Despite the major success of Hood by Air Lopez, experienced burnout according to AnOther Magazine, and left in 2011 to start his own label Luar. 

   The most recent Luar collection is heavily inspired by Lopez’s experiences regarding his queer identity. The collection is titled “Deceptionista” and plays on the outdated idea of metrosexuality, which refers to a term coined in the late 1990s to define heterosexual men in urban cities who put extra effort into their grooming and clothing. 

   “I was thinking, whatever happened to this word and why did it go away?” Lopez stated in an interview with W Magazine. “Why do we always think metrosexual people are gay? Why can’t they just be the way they are?”

   Lopez translated this idea into the pieces through a variety of fresh techniques and bold silhouettes. The collection mostly consisted of neutral blacks, browns, grays, with the occasional inclusion navy and maroon. The silhouettes of the pieces were bulky and structured with broad shoulders and exaggerated sleeves. A combination of more masculine leaning fabrics, like leather and denim, were used to create the structure, accented by lighter, more feminine textures such as feathers and mesh. The runway looks were embellished with long, ornate, and baroque-inspired nail art done by New York-based nail artist Naomi Yasuda. 

   Fashion week is no stranger to star-studded audiences, but many Brooklyn residents were shocked by Beyonce’s surprise attendance at the Bushwick Luar show. This marks Beyonce’s first appearance at NYFW since 2015. 

   Beyonce attended the show along with her mother, Tina Knowles, and sister, Solange Knowles, to support her nephew Julez Smith Jr.’s runway debut. Smith shared the stage with other up-and-coming models including Alex Consani, Dolly Baby, Huner Pifer, and Xiru Yang. 

   Following the release of her two new country singles, Beyonce’s outfit masterfully combined the classic aesthetics of her Houston Texas roots, and the shiny glamor more closely associated with Houston Street, New York. According to Harper’s Bazaar, she wore a silver beaded suit-dress, large sunglasses, a cowboy hat, and a holographic Luar Anna bag, which has since sold out on the brand’s website. 

   The Luar show wasn’t the only event to diversify NYFW and draw VIP crowds. Designer Phillip Lim hosted his third annual Lunar New Year NYFW party with Hennessy in Time Square. The event, curated by Brooklyn chef Calvin Eng, included food, drinks, and acrobatic entertainment. Awkwafina, Soo Joo Park, Ronny Chieng, Chriselle Lim, and Jeanie Mai were all in attendance to ring in the Year of the Dragon. 

   The Black in Fashion Council (BIFC) hosted their annual Discovery Showroom at The High Line. The BIFC Discovery Showroom handpicks emerging Black-owned fashion brands to present during NYFW. This year, Long Island’s knitwear designer Nia Thomas, Nigeria’s luxury designer Muktar Onifade, and Atlanta’s Amari Carter were among the Black designers featured. 

   With NYFW officially coming to a close on Feb. 14, fashion enthusiasts have already continued the festivities internationally for the other three major Fashion Week cities: London, Milan, and Paris. Keep up with the full Fashion Week schedule at the Council of Fashion Designers in America website

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