January 31, 2008
Designers and their inspirations
go figure. Robert Geller said his curiosity had been piqued by a book written by an early nineteenth century Prussian naturalist. How is a man transformed when he leaves the comforts of home and heads off into the unknown? In Geller's case, the new landscape was entirely Gothic. The setting for his show was a shadowy former synagogue on the Lower East Side. There was tamped-down dirt on the catwalk, and a huge stake just begging for a witch-burning. When the music came, it was the live sound of death metal sludge from a group the show notes identified as Lapdog of Satan. The clothes were of a muchness. Dark, worn, layered, with a military undertow (that naturalist was Prussian, after all), which at times suggested a refugee from the Russian front, particularly the huge officer's coat, and a final sweeping capelike knit that looked vaguely distressed. The knits throughout were actually a highlight. There was another of those cabled cardigan coats that have already insinuated themselves onto other menswear catwalks in New York. More tellingly, there were also formal details that echoed Geller's work with Alexandre Plokhov: a shawl collar on a jacket, a tuxedo shirt, contrasting lapels. In fact, in this, his first runway show, it felt rather like Geller was taking up the Cloak cudgels once more. But the prevailing gloom desperately needed a lift other than an accent shade of yellow the designer called "sulfur."