Fashion, often presented primly — except, of course, when it happens in a mud pit — can be at risk of taking itself too seriously.
But that was far from the case at the In Earnest by Byron Lars spring 2024 show in Harlem Wednesday night. Stripped of pretense, the vibe was as energizing as the clothing.
In the soulful lower level of Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster, a stylish set populated the leather seating wrapping the room while models paraded the collection of collectibles to the tune of James Brown’s “People Get Up And Drive Your Funky Soul.” And Barbie, ever fashion’s muse this year, had a little something to do with it — at least Lars’ Collectible Barbies of the early 2000s anyway.
“Looking at the old Barbies and seeing how cool they were with these pedestrian elements, aspirational elements and all that stuff, we kind of just leaned into that aesthetic,” Lars said backstage before the show. “We were also recognizing people were wearing clothes from the ‘90s and so long ago, and thinking about the collectible aspect of these clothes and really trying to create pieces, like the perfect cargo pants that you want to keep forever. So that’s pretty much it in a nutshell, and a lot of Harlem attitude.”
Strutting with that Harlem attitude, models debuted sweet meets funky pieces, like a utilitarian jacket over Chantilly lace bustier, and bejeweled tunic tops paired with slouchy cargo pants modernized with a mesh effect. Jacquard ribbon running down center backs of tops and skirts for a slimming effect was a thread connecting pieces throughout the collection.
Sheila Gray Collection tees featuring hand-appliquéd fashion figures drawing on doll play and designed to “bring out that little girl inside of you” as Gray noted, were also part of the show, and multi-hued hats from Lisa McFadden Millinery topped off several of the looks.