David Bowie makes for dangerous inspiration. He's a rather predictable choice and perhaps too artistically protean to claim as one's own. Robert Geller is, however, aware of the perils involved in citing the living legend; he said as much the night before his Fall 2014 collection bowed, at a friend's show. (Geller's collections are finished weeks in advance, in time for market appointments, leaving him ample time to check out the fashion week scenery.)
The trick, said Geller, is to be both specific and elusive. An aggravating paradox, to be sure, but one with marvelous results, judging from the looks that strode down his slender runway in a small room inside Chelsea Piers. Geller's specific reference was Bowie's title role in The Man Who Fell to Earth, the highly stylized 1976 British sci-fi flick that centers on an alien being who literally falls to earth. He takes on a human form, Bowie's form, as he must mix with the locals.
And this is where the elusive part comes in. Neither the models nor the fashion in Geller's collection bore great resemblance to the alien Bowie, save for prominent shoulders and a futuristic neck accessory. Instead, what was on show was the concept of fitting into new and strange circumstances—precisely the theme of Geller's own arc. German-born, he moved to the States in the late nineties, worked for Marc Jacobs, and eventually became half of the critically acclaimed men's label Cloak in the early aughts before leaving to start his own line.
As such, Geller's aesthetic typically feels a little foreign and outsider-y, in the most novel and fantastic ways. For Fall, textures were key, from slippery rubber and high-tech neoprene to fuzzy knits and rough denim, often all in the same look. But it was perhaps the unusual palette—Raf Simons-like in its boldness, as were the skinny leggings—that really brought the collection home. These were muted jewel and mineral tones, like those found within the earth, mixed and blocked with slick petroleum noncolors for a wholly unique and superb look that, despite how it may sound, did not come off as particularly fey. Nor was it especially masculine, thanks to the oversize and vaguely military coats, as well as sporty track shoes by the cult New York shoe label Common Projects. It existed somewhere in between, in a niche all its own—like Bowie.