“Who loves, raves,” declared Lord Byron in his poem “Grotto of Egeria.” Fast forward to 2014—in a blacked-out Pier 94, with hypnotic lasers and pounding beats—and we’re raving again. In the house of MBMJ.
Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley have brought a sense of euphoria back to this label, and their second catwalk presentation did not disappoint. Don’t worry, this was not a retro glowsticks-and-whistles affair—to create their parade of pastels and plastics, the designers referenced both street and art cultures. Backstage, Bartley said they were looking at a group of artists at Ferus Gallery in L.A., in particular Craig Kauffman, whose work with acrylics and vacuum-formed plastics inspired the latex pencil skirts, opalescent outerwear, and the spacey molded handbags and Mary Janes. Rubberized Chelsea boots looked as if they’d been dipped in vats of nursery-hued paint. Subversive styling tricks are key to Hillier and Bartley’s excitable boy-girl vision: a slightly sick baby pink latex stocking in a gumboot, a twisted skater T-shirt under a bustier, or even a nude slip with a jolly polka-dot caplet. These ideas (alongside Guido Palau’s nineties-feel hair twists—think Björk’s “Big Time Sensuality” video) will surely inspire younger customers, while the utilitarian tailoring and white canvas flight suits were universally stylish.
It was also great to see the continuation of successful silhouettes from their debut—the oversize ninja pant, the sweatshirt redux, and a fresh denim update. If Hillier and Bartley’s energized MBMJ show (with Marc Jacobs himself swaying to the music in the front row) is any indication, spring 2015 might just be the next big summer of love.