Picture the scene: you’re sitting at a fashion show waiting for it to begin and the lights go dark. You hear an engine roaring and the headlights of a car beam into the audience. A yellow Lamborghini comes down the runway, pulls into the center of the packed room, and the rapper driver steps out to sit atop the vehicle and casually take a puff of weed. What would be viewed as completely unorthodox to traditional fashion houses is the stuff VFILES dreams are made of.
For an exciting kick-off to New York Fashion Week, the brand presented its 9th high-energy runway show at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Wednesday (Sept. 6). The mixed-media presentation had no shortage of spirited moments, complete with musical performances and a host of high-profile attendees, including Slick Rick, Migos’ Offset (not to mention, the Lambo driver), TyDolla$ign, Tinashe, Lion Babe, Joey Bada$$, Young Paris, and Jessie J, who performed a never-before-heard song from an upcoming project.
VFILES was founded nearly five years ago by Julie Anne Quay, and the brand prides itself on providing opportunities for emerging creatives through collaborative efforts. The “global pop culture epicenter” has now found itself at the helm of fashion, music, and technology, recently launching VFILES LOUD record label. “We believe that music is the voice of fashion. You can’t have fashion without music and music without fashion. They’re the same thing,” Quay expressed.
Before the show, we spoke to this season’s three chosen emerging designers backstage to get the scoop on their collections, where and who they pull inspiration from, and why they love VFILES. Check out their interviews and some of the standout looks from the show below.
JUN JIE, 21
How did you know that you wanted to be in fashion?
I have been studying fine arts and drawing sculptures and stuff since I was like 7. So when I started to grow older, I just feel like there should be a way that I could articulate myself differently; there has to be a way for me to express myself. Then I just came across fashion. I don’t know, it’s like super personal to me. But I’m not that kind of person to like, dress Barbie dolls. I just like to wear stuff and to dress-up myself, because that makes me feel confident; it makes me feel like life is worth living.
How did you get involved with VFILES?
VFILES has a platform of promoting young, emerging designers, and had already been there for like 3 years [at the time], so I feel like the influence was already there. There was a previous VFILES winner; he was from my school. So I kind of know him quite well and we were quite close, so he just recommeded it to me. I was like really reviewing all those videos and the photos about VFILES; I really like the energy. I feel like it’s a really liberating kind of feeling, that people are celebrating their youth and their culture and their passion about fashion, so I really want to be a part of it.
Who are some designers that you pull inspiration from?
I mean, there are a lot of fashion heroes to me. They all have their different direction; they all have their own lane. But I feel like I have my own lane, too. I like Rei Kawakubo, I think she’s really brilliant, for Commes de Garcon. And also I love Maison Martin Margiela. He’s a master of deconstruction. The way he treats and perceives fashion. Like, fashion doesn’t [make] people glamorous, it’s really about you. It’s about the people who are wearing the garment and how you wear it. I feel like garments and fashion design should really go through your soul. Not really about showing off how much money you have, it’s really about your taste and your sense of fashion.
Was there any specific inspiration for the pieces you’re showing tonight?
This collection was initially from my graduation collection, so I started in a very spontaneous way. It’s kind of a very personal point of view, because this collection, I really want to explore the primal and savage beauty of Asian culture, and also incorporating the North African and ethnic influences, because I feel like it’s a really inherent code in my blood. This kind of idea, how to modernize my own personal heritage background is kind of elevating everyday in my head, like “How should I adapt them into a very modernized world by using Asian culture?” But not in a very fabricated way like using symbolical dragon prints or phoenix prints, like kind of cliche—no. I really want to do something deep down in the heart by capturing the essence of Asian culture. Something different. Probably like, if I don’t tell you, you can’t tell. But if you really go through the pattern and the construction of the garment, it’s totally different than like, the Western garments.
So you would say that’s your focus?
That’s my focus, and that’s really my passion. From the design, to the material I’m using, they’re all very much about the celebration of hand-craftsmanship.
CHRISTIAN STONE, 23
How long have you been involved with VFILES?
I knew about VFILES for quite a while because it’s been like 9 seasons already. I got this email from the VFILES team, they were really interested in my work and asked me to apply for it. I really want to see what VFILES can lead to and I’m just excited to show my collection in a different light on a different continent to a different audience. Really happy; really grateful about it.
How did they find your work?
I think VFILES has a very expert team—they find talents everywhere, basically. Although I studied and showed in London, they were still able to find it and get on top of Universitys’ graduates. So very fortunately, I got picked from there, and the rest is history.
Who are some of your biggest fashion design inspirations that you pull from?
My biggest inspiration is Rick Owens. I’ve been admiring Rick for a very long time. I feel like the reason why I do so many different textures is because when I walk into a Rick Owens store and I touch the garments, every garment is so interesting, and that makes me understand that texture and textiles and fabric is what makes a garment feel alive and special, because when a textile is invented, it’s personalized. If a technique is specialized, not everybody can do it. So I really, really, really like working this way, I guess.
What was your inspiration for what you’re showing tonight?
My inspiration is very, you can say, comedic. It’s inspired by the zombie apocalypse. I grew up in Hong Kong and it’s a very disheveled city. There would be like old electronics; outdated electronics dumped beside a street waiting to be collected. So I kind of draw this notion of something being obsolete and zombies together, and I’m trying to revive them, giving them a second life by taking them apart and smashing them together in unexpected ways. This way, it creates new function that nobody expects in very, very interesting forms. So this is what I’m going for. I guess my pieces are like artifacts, it’s like it’s been dug out from the ground. It’s been invented for a thousand years, but now people just realize “Oh this thing existed, and it’s so fascinating and weird.” So that is the mood that I’m going for.
LOUIS PILEGGI, 26
How did you find out about VFILES?
I feel like I’ve known about VFILES since I’ve been probably 18, right when I started to study fashion. I followed them on Facebook forever, so it’s always been there; it’s always been in my head. I made a profile on their website, they approached me, and now there’s a relationship [and] I’m showing with them.
Who are some designers that you pull inspiration from?
Really obvious ones that all young designers pull from [laughs]. So like, Yohji Yamamoto, all the Japanese designers, Jun Takahashi from Undercover blows my mind—incredible. Ann Demeulemeester… Marc Jacobs is divine, divine. You’re so lucky in America to have him. He’s so good; he always really excites me with his work.
So for what you’re showing tonight, what is the inspiration for these pieces?
It’s definitely a mix of things around me. I guess it’s my interpretation of the things I love and the things I think women and girls will want to wear. And it’s totally a collection that I think caters to an outsider; a weirdo, but also sort of taking that outsider/freaky kind of aesthetic that maybe is within goth or punk and elevating it and making it more glamorous and more accessible; more beautiful—pushing that. There’s loads of aspects of just little things that I love in it, whether it be a funny little sculpture that I have that I picked up in a kitschy store that just needed to be in the collection because I loved it, or a Chicago style hotdog, which I printed on one of the t-shirts. So it’s really just a bunch of fun things that I love. I love to make all sorts of inspirations and ideas.