Escape into Fashion Week with Katie Gallagher’s ‘Hallow’ collection and an immersive design experience by studioSPACE.
The night of February 9 was the run of Katie Gallagher’s 16th line, Hallow, an event in collaboration with a burgeoning local design company called studioSPACE. As a writer for Crixeo based in New York City, I took the journey to Projective Space to cover my first-ever fashion show for my first-ever New York Fashion Week.
What I knew about the work of Rhode Island School of Design graduate Katie Gallagher was that it uses textural and color contrasts, tends toward strong shapes and incorporates a good amount of sheer fabric.
studioSPACE, on the other hand, was new to me. The design team promised a supremely different space, art installations to parallel Katie’s work and projections to accompany the fashion show.
A supremely different space it was. The studio tucked into a small nook of Chinatown, called Projective Space, felt completely different from the idea of a runway environment you’d see at New York Fashion Week. White walls, wooden floorboards and high ceilings broadcasted a familiarity that anyone living in a New York apartment would understand. It felt residential and intimate, as if we were attending a party at a friend’s house rather than a high-end fashion show. And there was something beautiful about that intimacy: we were packed close together with other reporters and attendees, even with the models.
studioSPACE’s installations floated above: one over the central table positioned as a backdrop for the catwalk space, and the other suspended in the hallway where the models entered from. A cube of cords hovered like a sort of cloud, creating an interactive piece. While the installation over the table was full of the colors of Katie’s line — black, white and orange — the piece in the walkway was pure white, situated in the middle of reflective metallic walls. Both hung low enough to be touched.
Richard Heby, the project manager for studioSPACE, proudly talked with me about the dynamic space. The goal was a high-energy space and interactive installations that complemented Katie’s work — and nothing creates higher energy than an excited crowd in close quarters.
When I mentioned that this was my first time at New York Fashion Week, or at a fashion show at all, Heby gave a solid “Us too.” studioSPACE is only about five months old, and this was the company’s entrance into the world of fashion. Generally their focus has been in the bustling New York party scene. Katie Gallagher’s powerful fashion show was a meeting of different forms of media to create a new, experiential kind of art.
Katie Gallagher’s fall/winter 2017 collection, Hallow, melded succinctly with the art installations, primarily in the color palette.
The show itself was a quick but intense experience. Sounds of deep bass tones were sort of swallowed up in the vaulted ceiling but gave a fitting backdrop to the movements of the models. Projections were screened in different spaces behind and in front of the impromptu catwalk, showing images of fall colors and natural scenes, each complementing the color schemes of Katie Gallagher’s collection.
Along with a Halloween-influenced deep-black-and-bright-orange color scheme, there was a strict adherence to Katie’s reputation of contrasting textures, generally split between solids and derivatives of lace. Sheer fabrics accented the natural shapes of the models’ bodies, a recurring theme of the line.
The simple styles seemed to pull from an influence of new-wave cyberpunk fashion. The color palette made a strong impression. Most intriguing were pieces that layered bright orange underneath black, hiding the popping color behind a muted, darker tone. Layers of fabric hid the orange when the models were still, but while they were walking the orange peeked out in a beautifully suggestive way.
After the show, the audience was welcomed to a party courtesy of studioSPACE. While I’d heard that a good portion of New York Fashion Week was in the after-parties, I hadn’t really expected to ever get to attend one. (I mean, I wasn’t even invited to a single party in high school. I squeezed into ones in college only by pretending I knew people… I didn’t.)
Anyway, especially considering that the vast majority of studioSPACE’s previous experience was in local New York party scenes, they definitely delivered. Their art installations played a vital part in creating a personable experience, as the artist and second mind behind the company Jacob Fisher explained.
Like Heby, Fisher said the collaborative effort was to complement Katie’s line, as evidenced in the color patterns and projections. “We’re crossing the worlds of art and fashion,” he said, still wearing the headset to coordinate with the fashion show that had ended 15 minutes before. In the intimate Projective Space, we managed to sit on a couch beside the impromptu bar, watching the models as they stood still to continue demonstrating Katie Gallagher’s line.
In the entrance hall, the lower-hanging installation swarmed with guests taking selfies inside the dangling cords. Nearby, to get to the food and drinks on the other side of the room, guests walked through the line of models and took photos.
“This is something that can’t exist in a gallery,” Fisher said proudly, and he was right. With models standing still before the flashing cameras, and in the middle of an active party, it was an experience that couldn’t be executed strictly as an art show or as a fashion show.
Katie’s work was beautifully enhanced by studioSPACE’s participation. Together they took a high-end culture and translated it to an intimate, approachable experience.
Heby shared what he felt was the purpose of art: “It’s all about escapism. The people here don’t want to think about their lives. They want to be in the space focusing on something different and beautiful.”