February 18th, 2015
As guests filed into the runway space at Milk Studios for Patrik Ervell’s Fall 2015 show late Monday afternoon, they were greeted by the soft glow of neon, which lined several freestanding set pieces in harsh concrete, a collection of graphic planters, steps, and sharp angles that had a backward-looking sense of the future—or, perhaps, a forward-looking sense of the past. When the designer explained that the design was inspired by Brutalist architecture and, specifically, London’s Barbican Centre, which dwarfs its visitors with its grandiose, looming scale, everything clicked into place.
Ervell built his name on a skinny silhouette, athletic inspirations, and unconventional materials, and those cornerstones of his artistic vision were all visible in the collection, albeit with new twists—billowing pants legs, a vivid ikat print, the return of the fleece that proved so divisive in his Spring 2015 collection. On a brutally cold day, Ervell made an overwhelmingly powerful case for dressing in layers, with turtlenecks under blazers that peeked out from beneath puffer vests or bomber jackets. The clothes, inspired by the same much-maligned architectural movement as the mise-en-scène, had an approachability and an appeal that Brutalist buildings can sometimes lack, pulling in with their pure designs and clean grace notes. One rubbery jacket in polyurethane-bonded leather featured the prominent placement of Ervell’s logo, a sharply stylized image of his last name stretching to fill the bounds of a pentagon, a design touch perfected over the last few seasons that spoke to just how important Ervell takes his every detail.
The show ended on a serious note, as the models paraded by again, illuminated only by the pale strips of neon (an effective way to prevent the ubiquitous blurry, diminishing finale shots that populate Instagram, perhaps). It was a tableau that was, if not exactly post-apocalyptic, at least a fitting reminder that clothes, at their most basic—and especially the strong designs Ervell showed here—are meant to protect us.