The unexpected perspective seems to have declared itself the hallmark of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York this season, with a handful of designers showing collections using 3-D technology, and one in particular giving the optics of fashion presentation entirely new depth and meaning. Nicola Formichetti, the creative director of Mugler, who has so far proven to be remarkably precise on the runway, added to both its strange appeal and surprising versatility, when he opened the doors of his own pop-up shop, Nicola’s New York, in lower Manhattan; a captivating retail concept filled with everything he loves, including a virtual nod to the catwalk itself.
As a digital avatar of Mugler muse Rico the Zombie Rick Genest paced inside on a glowing seven-foot-tall screen, guests attending the BOFFO Building Fashion 2011 opening reception arrived at Karkula in TriBeCa to find in its place a digital crystal cave composed of several hundred robotically cut, mirrored facets mounted to an enormous hidden structure engineered to magnify the impact of Mr. Formichetti’s aesthetic. The installation, designed by Gage/Clemenceau Architects, more than certainly looks better by day when it’s a little less crowded but couldn’t strike a more exacting tone in producing that desired effect.
BOFFO co-founder Faris Al-Shathir smiled politely while guests including Daria Shapovalova and Nomi Ruiz mingled against a twinkling display of reflected objects, attracting a busy camera crew. The American figure skater Johnny Weir was greeted with a flurry of tossed air kisses. Behind him, three oversized flat screens displayed an exclusive promotional video, described as a self-portrait, in which Mr. Formichetti douses himself in MAC Viva Glam powder, lipstick and glitter. As floor space dwindled, the heat in the room caused the ultra-stylish to look upon those who came even slightly underdressed with a shade of envy, but there were no complaints. An inspired cocktail menu kept things as cool as the mannequins draped in vintage Versace and one-of-a-kind refinery courtesy of Haus of Gaga, Lady Gaga’s creative production studio, a modern reincarnation of Andy Warhol’s “Factory,” led by Mr. Formichetti since May of 2009.
No one could have been more delighted by the turnout than Mr. Formichetti himself who, despite constant travel between Lady Gaga’s performances, Mugler’s offices in Paris, his home in New York, and Tokyo, where he is the fashion director of Vogue Homme Japan and Uniqlo, moved playfully through the crowd welcoming friends with the warmth of a neighborhood shop owner. Stephan Rabimov, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Depesha, BOFFO’s official media sponsor for the installation, addressed members of the press in more than one language with dizzying precision and diplomacy, surrounded by special edition copies of Depesha Vol. 4 “Beauty from the Malignant.”
Since its first appearance in 2005, Depesha has grown steadily in richness and quality, embodying the larger, deeper contours in fashion that many of its competitors often shush, leaving the fashion blogosphere to pick up the pieces, a job not always executed with the kind of faultless gravity and polish Mr. Rabimov would prefer. No longer just the publisher of a popular fanzine, he is one of a select few that has successfully gelled amateur-style culture with professional standards, drawing attention from subscribers across the globe.
The contentious argument over whether or not fashion and technology are a mix worthy of amplification is a rubber chicken according to his editors; the immediacy of the future is present everywhere and commands our attention, but also note-perfect publicity capable of leaving room for meaningful discourse. To that end, Mr. Rabimov has effectively used Depesha.com to point readers in Mr. Formichetti’s direction on several occasions as his somewhat controversial restructuring of Mugler resulted in major scores not just for the brand but for fashion-at-large as both imagery and entertainment. Although Mr. Rabimov has insisted before that his magazine is not in the business of making predictions, Depesha has kept a watchful eye on Mr. Formichetti’s contributions to fashion’s architectonic shifts between old and new. In the forthcoming (October 2011) fifth anniversary volume of the magazine, now squarely positioned at the forefront of a new enlightenment that seems to have dawned on Mr. Formichetti’s approach, he explains, “the defining historical figures—always les enfants terribles—continue to write their radical manifestos, the mise-en-scene for our future. What awaits us, one and all? A bright utopia or the apocalypse?” A question that perhaps more than sums up Depesha’s presence in support of Nicola’s two-week run, and may even be answered there by its digital oracle who, even as starships war in the background, marches on in flawless couture, all with the tap of a finger. Michael Lobban The BOFFO Building Fashion Nicola Formichetti + Gage/Clemenceau Architects’ New Retail Concept / Event Space is accessible to the general public through September 24th, 2011 at Karkula’s, 50 Walker Street in Tribeca, New York.