Everything that Public School designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow do seems newsworthy. After launching their label in 2008, the duo was immediately noticed by the CFDA and became part of the inaugural class of the CFDA Fashion Incubator program. Since then, the native New Yorkers have won two CFDA awards, added women’s wear, become the creative directors of DKNY, and launched collaborations with everyone from Tumi to Cadillac.
Their latest partnership with Cadillac was no exception. On Monday night, Osborne and Chow presented their Pre-Fall 2016 Public School collection in Dubai, coinciding with the launch of the new Cadillac XT5. For the occasion, It girl DJs Hannah Bronfman, Mia Moretti, and Vashtie Kola; models Riley Montana, Zuzu Tadeushuk, and Hyunji Shin; and a host of editors and bloggers flew in from around the world to see what Osborne and Chow created—and also to get a taste of the city.
Exploring Dubai was a priority for the designers, as well. “This is our first time here,” said Osborne following the show, held in Dubai’s Design District. “In between some fittings we got to get out and visit the desert, go skiing inside of a mall and do all of those weird things that only happen in Dubai.”
“Dubai ended up being the perfect backdrop for our collection,” he continued. “You’re in a city that’s in the middle of a desert filled with camels, but also has the tallest building in the world—the contrast there is what really drove us to do the show here.”
It’s that sort of juxtaposition that inspires the designers every day—especially in their hometown. “In New York, you can be on the subway standing next to a billionaire but you wouldn’t know it, and then on the other side is a homeless person with no place to live,” Osborne said. “Those contrasts of the high and low keeps us on our toes, and keep us excited. It’s like going to an expensive dinner and getting a slice of Joe’s Pizza right after.”
“In New York the margin between being super successful and falling over is really marginal, you walk that fine line,” added Chow. “In Dubai, there’s not really a fine line. You’ve made it.”
Whether or not the designers have “made it” is to be determined. Despite their rapid ascent, their Spring 2016 collection received mixed reviews. As did their debut for DKNY. Not that the designers took notice.
“We try not to participate in that,” Osborne said, referring to critics. “We just do what we want to the best we can, and try to have fun doing it. All we can do is try to stay in our lane, stick to our guns, stick to our point of view and do what we like.”
For pre-fall, that meant a color palette that echoed spring, but felt more true to the athletic, street-wear inspired, utilitarian silhouettes for which they are best known. Fortunately, Dubai seemed to agree with them.
Watch the Public School designers explain their decision to show in Dubai below.