Self-Portrait at NYFW


It’s hardly a novel reflection, but I have become irrevocably obsessed with Self-Portrait. Is that even surprising? Before the advent of the rainbow bagel and raindrop cake, it was the Azalea dress that completely consumed Instagram, leaving no feed unturned as it clung endearingly onto the form of every fashion blogger in existence. I mean, that dress showed absolutely no mercy. And it certainly foreshadowed Self-Portrait’s entire ability to entice and tease out desire by experimenting with the many nascent faces of lace. And fishnet. Scrap that, the stuff that looked like fishnet was the most brilliant of all. Trust Han Chong to teach the world how to fall in love with something that used to only belong in a burlesque joint. 

Seeing the photos coming out of Self-Portrait’s presentation at New York Fashion Week, though, was a bit of a letdown. I’d been keeping my nose pressed to the glass (I cannot confirm if this is truth or a mere exaggeration) on social media in hopes of getting a glimpse of their Spring/Summer 2017 collection, and boy oh boy it was not what I’d expected. There were tons of separates, which is I don’t know, surprising but fine. There was a deep red dress with ruffled cold shoulders and three massive zips cutting preposterous swaths through its front. There were pencil skirts, poplin shirts and utility pants. There was one laser cut dress with ruffles, a possible conciliatory attempt at reinstating Self-Portrait’s former glory. It all could’ve been Ralph Lauren or J.Crew, if anyone suffered a lapse in attention. Some excerpts:

'Don’t reinvent the wheel' is a terrible piece of advice to give any designer; the otherworldly successes shepherded into being by Phoebe Philo at Céline and Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent are due precisely to both characters having the audacity to fix something that arguably wasn’t broke. But as a fledgling label that has serendipitously gathered a cult following in the same amount of time some labels take to even find their footing, it seems much too early for Self-Portrait to be showing a collection that displays little allegiance to everything that it’s become associated with. Where is the floral laser cut lace? Where is the teardrop guipure and the cascading ruffled tiers? Where is the stuff that has every female Instagrammer professing, against better judgement, their willingness to drop $600 on a dress? Why are there so many oddly placed utility buttons? What day is it, anyway?

I suppose the silver lining is that I won’t be tripping over myself with desire for a dress that breaks my budget a few times over. But then again, who am I kidding? Emergency meeting adjourned.

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