Katya Leonovich Spring 2013: “We Don’t Need Another Hero”

Like everyone lucky enough to show at the Lincoln Center tents, the designer Katya Leonovich may have her friends. But on the evidence of her latest outing at New York Fashion Week, she also has one meddlesome enemy: the artist Katya Leonovich.

Make that frenemy. Leonovich’s background as a visual artist is a mixed blessing. At its best, it fine-tunes the designer’s instinct for balancing texture, with shimmery molded leather corsets playing well above skirts of gossamer organza, chiffon, charmeuse and plisse. The dusky greens, greys and beiges of the palette bring to mind a rainy day in early spring, a day perfect for making art. One imagines Leonovich padding about in her atelier on such a day, collecting images for her mood board in the company of her beloved pet rat.

What else was on that mood board? How rainy was that day? Did the artist linger too long before her DVD shelf, where “Waterworld” propped suggestively against “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome?” Models wearing these overdesigned, unflattering pieces looked like extras from a sequel we pray never gets made.

The problem with this collection is that it seems purely conceptual, as if the notion of people having to function in the garments was a contemptible and dismissible afterthought. Hence the oddly shaped cutouts at backs and shoulders (poorly draped and ill-fitting), and the pile-on of elements (metallic jacquard jacket + reverse peplum + kimono collar + shoulder cutout + python short = pass the Xanax). Nearly everything looked cheap, which may or may not be an imperative of the artist/designer’s trademark aesthetic, Beautiful Garbage.

By the time the leather Mitt Romney and Barack Obama evening gowns came down the runway, prompting gasps from the audience, one half-expected Tina Turner to appear in their midst to wail the chorus of  “We Don’t Need Another Hero”. A fitting end to this a-balk-alypse.

Look, we get it. The designer’s an artist. But for fashion to be art, there must be artistry. Great fashion designers – Madeleine Vionnet, Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf, Ituen Basi – are those who command the elements of fashion (fabric, color, structure, draping, style) to make art that people can wear. Merely executing an artistic idea or taking acrylics to cloth doesn’t cut it. Painterly prints have been in vogue for two seasons, yet nobody leaves the house wrapped in a Jean-Michel Basquiat canvas. And nobody should leave this earth having ever worn a leather Romney dress.

Photo Gallery: Katya Leonovich Spring 2013 – New York Fashion Week
all photos by Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine

Video: Katya Leonovich Spring 2013 – New York Fashion Week

video by Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine