Eckhaus Latta / Essex Olivares
Eckhaus Latta is an independent fashion label based in New York. A collaboration between designers Mike Eckhaus & Zoe Latta, the duo’s approach is best described as “organic”- with their interests in materials, culture and the body largely guiding their collections. Eckhaus Latta debuted only 3 years out of college, with their Bondage Geita Shoes and Hula Knits gaining infamy as the “worst” of 2012’s fashion week. Eckhaus Latta’s persistent output has since established them as a new guard in New York’s independent fashion.
Eckhaus Latta’s presentations consistently stretch the parameters of the space and time allotted- the S/S 2013 show at Milk Studios transpired over an hour, as multiple models took turns walking on a treadmill, posing on a stage, or lounging on an air mattress drinking an energy drink made for the event. This show gave the impression of an operation larger than two people, largely due to Eckhaus Latta’s invitation for friends to collaborate- everything from shoes and accessories, branding and design, to music and refreshments.
Their AW 2013 Collection was no exception, as Eckhaus Latta invited another duo, Eve Essex & Juan Antonio Olivares (Essex Olivares , LOL) to orchestrate their presentation. Over the past year Essex Olivares have staged a series of elaborately choreographed absurdist music theater pieces that explore new ways of staging and experiencing sound and performance. Built to be performed by a cast of amateurs, their pieces are written as graphic and text-based music scores, able to be restaged indefinitely by anyone.
What is immediately memorable about a performance by Essex Olivares is their particular blend of audience participation- in a gallery space filled with people, different events occur in different areas in tandem, forcing viewers to move towards whatever interests them at the time- whether it’s the stacking of a wine glass pyramid, an impromptu concerto or the smashing of fruits and vegetables. This constantly shifting crowd is agitated by performers moving from area to area, simultaneously disorienting and exhilarating the viewer.
For the presentation at the Standard, Eckhaus Latta dressed and styled their models (as well as Essex Olivares), who were then directed as performers in a new piece written for the occasion. The piece oriented around photography, documenting Eckhaus Latta’s new looks in specific poses and quasi-musical activities dictated in the score. Once again, the unexpecting audience was forced to mill about to see what was happening and what they were missing, all the while rubbing shoulders with models weaving in and out of the tight crowd.