Two Spring/Summer 2013 shows this year during New York Fashion Week left us mystified with runway presentations that revealed a more esoteric approach to displaying what we will be wearing next year. We were on the row at threeASFOUR show as well as A Détacher and saw both labels bring their metaphysical and enigmatic slant (respectively) as each of the models powered down the runway with a facial expression concealing a secret they’d never tell.

threeASFOUR showed first during Fashion Week, opting for a gallery nestled along Bowery, with (wisely) no desire to get lost in the shuffle of Lincoln Center uptown. As the eccentric mix of long-time fans and first-time guests began to fill the stark white gallery space, seats were greeted with a small carton of eco-friendly boxed water (making a subsidiary fashion statement, “Boxed Water is Better”), wrapped up in the runway show’s program. A monogram sticker representing the three designers sealed the program, and once unwrapped, the show’s theme, “Magnetic Field”, was illustrated by a drawing of a suspended body, erect whilst radiating waves of energetic frequencies, adorned with globular shapes presumably pointing to its chakras.

If that alone didn’t set the tone, the program for the threeASFOUR show presented a manifesto, stating:

This season furthers a continuum where the three [designers] explore the latent beauty of the networks which form the Unified Field. The collection introduces pieces that radiate the aura and activate the physical body.

Once the show began, New York based-musician and DJ Ben Brunnemer channeled the label’s mood with haunting tunes that all at once felt eerily comforting. The models stomped about the floorspace with speed and purpose, as if they were walking along the New York sidewalks alone at night, wrapped in a palette of energizing pinks and reds, soothing burgundy and lavender, and vulnerable nudes. Fluid, organic shapes alternated with metal geometric patterns that crawled about the models bodies in minidresses suitable to pass as a fusion of Björk and Beyoncé. Shattered mirror pieces also served as the primary material for the accompanying oversized wedge heels, which garnered a great deal of snaps from the hovering iPhones and iPads in the audience. The overall look countered feminine body con with a futuristic sage sentiment, proposing a sensual goddess wise beyond her years.

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Fast-forward to an evening at the A Détacher show, where we became entranced with the cosmos that is designer Mona Kowalska. Kowalska’s S/S ’13 show offered an artful departure from her more commercial peers showing this past week, embodying a self-aware woman set to a fable-like narrative. The vacuous space at Chelsea Piers was warmed by dim lighting and DJ Ben Brunnemer made another worthy appearance, soaking the room with ethereal goodness.

The program for the show was simple and plain, yet for good reason, as the text was heavy in emotion and realism. Instead of listing the thirty-five pieces by literal description, Kowalska listed each piece in abstract form, a fictitious (perhaps?) mini-biographical statement for each model which left you wishing you had paid closer attention to the garments had you read the program first:

MASHA ground her teeth… SAMIRA was bloody-minded… KATE D. had a twisted smile… VANESSA mumbled… INGA enjoyed male company… VALERY never learned to swim… MARIANE never left the city…

These slightly poetic yet painfully human blurbs in place of garment descriptions added gravitas to the show, and materialized the secrets we conceal beneath our clothing. Mona Kowalska definitely gets it.

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It’s encouraging to see labels the likes of threeASFOUR and A Détacher still plodding along every year, reconsidering the way we send fashion down the runway, all with their very own brand of sartorial spirituality, injecting a symbolic approach to the way we dress ourselves. We certainly hope to see more of it in the seasons to come.