If you’ve been following the various fashion design competitions around town, you’ve noticed that students from New York Fashion Academy keep coming out on top. I remember as far back as three years ago, when Gwen Stubbs took the prize at an innovative design contest based on the Museum of History and Industry’s Theatre de la Mode exhibit, and of course you know that this year’s Red Dress winner, Rosie Kohlmeier studies at the same Ballard Ave fashion center. On Saturday night I invited myself over to the studio of two winning NYFA’ers, Karly Orr and Liise Wyatt.
Karly’s been on my mind a lot lately; her pitch-perfect Corvette-red jersey gown won last year’s Project Red Dress, and as we wrapped up our coverage of this year’s event, it seemed the perfect time to find out what she’s been up to. Catching up via email, I learned that she and Liise have been collaborating on a men’s line, Wyatt Orr, while working on their individual collections.
The ever-so-slightly askew and sometimes asymmetrical peacoats, jackets, and Michael Jackson-Thriller-era motorcycle coats in the Wyatt Orr line are just being constructed now, so I was only able to see the flats, or computer ‘sketches’ that were made, and the earth-toned plaids and dark, somber wools that Karly and Liise have selected. But even with just a sneak peak at the line, I can see it fitting with the timeless-meets-tomorrow cool of shops like Polite Society, Blackbird, and Kuhlman.
I did get to see a few pieces from each designer’s women’s collections; Karly had a super relevant peach-toned a-line silk jersey dress that could be worn just about anywhere, with just about anything, and a dramatic black-teal column gown that was covered with ten yards of stretch silk petals. Red carpet anyone?
The peachy-beige dress in particular is a great representation of what I think of as Karly’s style; non-obtrusive geometric, graphic panels and low-key but really intelligent inner construction and materials give easy-to-admire, easy-to-wear shift-shapes backbone, structure, and staying power. Karly herself is but a brief slip of a woman, but she understands that most of us need a little support in order to look like we have gym-perfect bodies underneath throw-it-on-and-go curve-hugging knit frocks.
Glimpsing the vaguely tie-dyed-looking, slightly psychedelic knit wools that Karly is playing with for her fall collection, I really felt, well, psyched, to see what’s next.
Speaking of structure, Liise showed me a rain jacket she made with coated linen and coated cotton that felt, and looked, like an essential Northwest piece.
When I suggested that Karly was the draper and Liise the construction engineer, they laughed a little and did that thing that good friends and studio-mates and study partners and boot camp soldiers do and it was clear that it’s not that simple.
Still, they both say they’re curious to see how their men’s line will influence their feminine forms, and they’re not alone there. These are two designers to watch out for — bottom-lined, underscored, bolded, bookmarked, and Twittered.