We’ve had the ‘Australian designers in New York’ conversation many times over the last few weeks. But Phoenix Keating makes it sounds like a fresh subject. The Sydney-based designer made his stateside debut at Chelsea’s Go Studios last week with Spring/Summer’s ‘Vaudevillian,' and it’s not difficult to see why he didn’t waste much time in the Australian market before shifting his gaze overseas. Keating’s designs are statement-making, slightly eccentric and not exactly in tune with the rest of the local market.
But in New York City — stomping ground of his most notorious early supporter, Lady Gaga – he might have found his home away from home. ‘Vaudevillian’ is a dramatic and ultra-modern collection that has all the power of its backstory and none of its convolutedness (to experience the full force of a Keating collection is to be treated to an inspiration rundown that borders on epic). The designer explains this season’s roots thusly:
‘In a future where time travel is reality, androids are sent back to the distant past, gathering information about the missteps of humanity to ensure a successful, progressive future for civilization. Our story surrounds one particular female android, sent back to the 1920s, gripped by confusion and emotion when she happens upon a pre-ordained Love whose discovery of her very own android nature sets into motion a cinematic, tragic turn of events leaving her human counterpart in crestfallen agony and forcing her into an Apocalyptic future, forever to endure without what could have been.’
Other unconventional inspiration worth mentioning is aircrafts. Structured tops, skirts and a bomber jacket are given a futuristic effect with patchworked silver leather and anchored with studs, making them resemble the wings of an airplane, and are married to panels of romantic chiffon. Other pieces using the same metallic fabric include a 1950s pointy brazier and a cinched-waist dress for the sexy android in all of us.
The softer, 1920s-inspired half of the collection takes its cues from Josephine Baker and the Vaudeville circuit. The studs and silhouettes (and another pointy bra) marry the two sides together, but here Keating introduces a traditional English plaid that he douses in bleach to a very cool effect. Ribbed finishes add a little wearability – not that that’s Keating’s mantra.
Images provided by L.E.R. PR