Politics were worn on the sleeve—and the chest, and the back, and the lapel—in Tome’s Autumn/Winter 2017 runway show on February 12. In sensational style, Swarovski Collective members Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin grabbed the opportunity to shout their equality credentials from one of fashion’s biggest platforms, New York Fashion Week. Where the message was heard loud and clear—and fabulously:
Taking a tip from the artist-activists Guerilla Girls (an anonymous gorilla mask-wearing group that exploded out of the 80s with a series of actions to expose inequality) the design duo embraced our ancestral ape with great wit. “Monkey suit” jackets and sleeves, often contrasted with shiny patent leather and bold check, introduced texture. A crystallized banana motif deployed across backs and busts brought the fun. We were reminded of the wildly joyful dancing of jazz-age legend Josephine Baker and that infamous banana skirt. Nearly a century ago she refused to perform for segregated audiences and it was clear that Tome sees a need to embolden the fight for diversity.
Speaking of which, plus-size and age-plus models were more than mere tokens at this show. Hourglass curves were flatteringly draped, Candice Huffine looked sublime in a black roll-neck dress with faux fur cuffs. Recalling Josephine’s Twenties vibe, wide-leg pants paired with tie-waist tops in pinks and blues were trimmed with geo-shaped crystals. Those geometric stones could also be seen sparkling from the jewelry—a design first for Tome, who worked with CLOSER BY WWAKE to create the stunning statement earrings. Meanwhile, knitwear was from women’s collectives in the Andes, and several pieces had been recycled from past seasons in a welcome move that turns the ethical fashion message up to eleven. In such a context, the use of over 49,000 Swarovski crystals could be read as a seal of approval, given that the crystal maison is a famously strong advocate for ethical business. The finishing touch? An unashamedly huge pink “Planned Parenthood” badge, because while this is gorgeously feminine, chic and playful couture, it boasts a responsible edge. Who says you can’t enjoy the best of both worlds?
Images by Dan Lecca & Eli Schmidt