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As New York Fashion Week opens the autumn/winter 2014 show season, a major focus will be menswear labels turning their attention to womenswear. Thom Browne’s womenswear is one of the hottest tickets in town, while at Hugo Boss newly appointed designer Jason Wu will be hoping to replicate the label’s menswear status with his womenswear show. Meanwhile, Duckie Brown and Public School are venturing into women’s designs for the first time. Here is the lowdown on these two labels to watch.
Public School is designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, who met working at P Diddy’s Sean John label a decade ago. They launched the label in 2008 and quickly gained a cult following before their business model hit a roadblock and they were forced to close. But 2012 saw a comeback as they showed at NYFW for the first time, with Details magazine style director Eugene Tong on styling duties and an all-new “made in New York” tag.
Three seasons later, they are a talking point again, having revealed plans to show womenswear – just as long as the range meets the design duo’s approval. Osborne says: “If it’s perfect, we’re going to show it. But if 1 per cent isn’t to our satisfaction, we have no problem holding it back.” If their womenswear follows in the footsteps of the men’s line, expect a tailored sportswear aesthetic: think a Nehru shirt layered under a jersey sweater, cropped slacks and fitted leathers.
With an aesthetic rooted in the street style that defined the designers’ time growing up in New York City, but with references to futuristic thinkers such as Rick Owens and Raf Simons, Public School presents an antidote to the usual preppy look of US menswear. For S/S 2014 trousers are often tapered with a drop crotch, or cropped above the ankle, to be paired with androgynous shrunken jackets and slim-fitting shirts. Sporty fabrics are spliced with heavy satin, velvet and leather, while prices – $550 for a jumper – are at the aspirational end of affordable.
Named after their nickname for each other – “Duckie” – Steven Cox and Daniel Silver are a couple, who met in Fire Island, New York in the 1990s. The “Brown” was a way to “anchor” the name, they say, and a reference to the side of the label that’s based in traditional menswear tailoring. Not that the word “traditional” can often be used to describe them – in the 12 years since they launched, their outré aesthetic (men in skirts, whimsical sportswear) has always been avant garde.
The duo made their womenswear debut this week, with about 50 pieces shown alongside menswear. The design process began with Cox and Silver trying their men’s line on a female model – “and it kind of looked normal, while in men’s, it’s considered unusual,” says Cox.
The result? Wearable tailoring via a checked Crombie coat and high-waisted silk trousers, alongside fluid T-shirt tops and dresses. However, with male models wearing jackets layered over coats to give the effect of skirts, and flashes of neon yellow and shocking pink, it looks as if the days of wanting to borrow your boyfriend’s clothes aren’t over just yet.
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