Fashion presentations can often feel like exercises in pretending the models in front of you are mannequins, not human beings who are likely bored and in need of sustenance. But at Uri Minkoff’s presentation on the kickoff day of New York Fashion Week: Men’s, the models were anything but static. They fell backwards off cinder block piles in trust exercises, spontaneously turned around in twirls, lunged forward and backward, and even occasionally yelled. All of them were actually dancers, enlisted by the performance art team Gerard & Kelly.
“We were really interested in bringing movement to the clothes,” said Ryan Kelly, one half of the duo, who Minkoff tapped to bring his spring/summer 2017 presentation to life. Indeed, instead of the usual models at Industria Superstudio, dancers pranced about in the collection for the next hour and a half. “The presentation is kind of like an art installation,” Kelly said.
The show was a continuation of a collaboration that started earlier this summer when Minkoff provided the suits for an edition of Gerard & Kelly’s “Modern Living” series at Philip Johnson’s Glass House. Instead of Minkoff creating suits for their performance, Gerard & Kelly provided the performance for Minkoff's designs.
Full of tailored offerings like blazers, long jackets, and structured shorts, the designer’s second-ever, ready-to-wear collection doesn’t exactly sound ideal for dancing, but Minkoff knew what he was doing. “We put stretch in everything,” he said. “I was a competitive triathlete growing up, so I wanted to introduce some sportier elements.”
Plus, he stuck to a mostly blue palette, with a hint of pink (a nod to an afternoon he spent this spring on Lake Como, watching the sunset and meditating on the now perennial IRL-vs.-online conundrum). “There’s so much happening with digital right now that life becomes this blur of time – you lose the idea of time and it’s like, we’re all almost becoming digital devices ourselves,” Minkoff said.
That’s partly why he tapped Gerard & Kelly – their Glass House performance also centered around time. But this time around, they tackled the topic much more explicitly. At various points in the show, the 12 dancers yelled time stamps like “1:00 a.m.,” “midnight,” and “noon,” all to their own beat, with the thumping pulse of feedback from a restaging of Steve Reich’s 1968 piece, “Pendulum Music,” with microphones dangling above speakers in the background.
As to whether they’ll stick with fashion, Kelly said, “I have no idea. I’m looking forward to a summer vacation.”