Area’s Spring/Summer 2024 Ready-To-Wear Collection
Fall 2023 Ready-to-Wear

Photo: Courtesy of Area

“Where did it all begin?” was the question on Piotrek Panszczyk’s mind as he worked on Area’s fall collection. “It” being the human race. He’d been “thinking about prehistoric times and how pelts and bones were kind of the first things humans had to build an identity around,” he said a few days ahead of the show at his Chinatown studio. “It started with this idea of the primal instinct that through the centuries morphed into desire, and then eventually a kind of excess and the life cycle of luxury.”

The idea was cleverly developed: there were “fur pelt” coats made from fur-printed denim in a variety of colors that delivered runway drama, fur-print, low-slung jeans, and a mini dress with bulbous little godets that spoke to Panszczyk’s commitment to offering real-world alternatives to fantasy. To a soundtrack of tools banging against each other, which eventually evolved into an industrial beat, came models in big-shouldered jackets or slinky jersey pieces punctuated by beastly rips, the gold-embellished bones of their attackers still elegantly attached to their clothes. Perhaps because the shapes were not instantly recognizable as belonging to any one specific animal, the effect remained decorative instead of reading as Halloween-y. “We wanted to hand sculpt these custom gold jewels, in an almost Elsa Peretti kind of way,” Panszczyk explained. “We always love this kind of notion of something that could be so ‘on the nose,’ almost like Halloween, but there’s also a beauty to it. In Elizabethan times, people had diamond skull rings, and it was almost like a secret code to the underworld.”

It wouldn’t be an Area show without some over-the-top crystal embellishment moments, which came through a series of elegantly draped all-over embroidered gowns inspired by Vionnet—one of Panszczyk’s constant points of reference—decorated with shiny “bones” hand sculpted from resin á la Wilma and Betty from The Flintstones. A version done in fur didn’t quite hit the mark (though it was a beautiful shade of blueish green), but a purple iteration did: it had a curved bone whose placement in the middle of the body created a beautiful line that hit Panszczyk’s desire for a little humor and a little glam. The most elegant piece was a mint green gown with short sleeves, a plunging neckline, and cutouts around the armpits: it was beautiful in the simplicity of its cut, no bones required.

This article was originally published on Vogue Runway.

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