Photos by Amanda Coen for Ecouterre
Shove a ruby-slippered Dorothy Gale into a time machine, direct her to Studio 54 at the height of its hedonism with a pit stop in 1960s Carnaby Street and, with a little bit of luck, you might end up with Libertine’s Fall/Winter 2012 show at New York Fashion Week. The lineup of vintage threads, retooled by L.A. designer Johnson Hartig into punk-edge designs for men and women, beams with a mischievous exuberance, a giddy procession of mother-of-pearl-studded biker jackets, Muppet-pelt boas, and metallic paillettes that throb like miniature disco balls under the house lights.
Hartig is obviously a man who knows his way around a BeDazzler, but the 2012 Council of the Designers of America/Lexus Eco-Fashion Challenge winner has managed to capture the zeitgeist of youthful rebellion, seen most recently in the Occupy movement, the Arab Spring uprisings, and the Tottenham riots.
As the show draws to a close, the models break character, replacing rarified insouciance with frenzied vigor.
As if in confirmation, the models break character at the close of the show, rarified insouciance replaced with frenzied vigor as they gambol down the catwalk to the rhythm of Lykke Li’s “I Follow Rivers.” Their message, if there is one, seems clear: we’re restless for change; are you in or are you out?