Fashion Focus: Abigail Glaum-Lathbury's Invention and the Obsolete Galler
I'll be honest. It's rare I leave a fashion show in Chicago feeling wholeheartedly optimistic, let alone exhilarated, about design coming out of the city. Last night at Abigail Glaum-Lathbury's show was a refreshing change. There wasn't an appletini in sight.
Hosted in the Prairie Productions studio in the West Loop, the dramatically high ceilinged, stark white surroundings provided an apt venue for the designer's alternative approach to a runway show. Silver plastic tubing and paper lanterns were suspended from the rafters; for seating, blown-up pillows sandwiched between two pieces of plywood held together with bungee cords formed benches arranged around the periphery of the room and in a cluster at the center of the space.
The show began somewhat abruptly but talkers immediately quieted themselves. Models slowly streamed in a circular path through the crowd. Having seen glimpses of the collection during my recent studio visit, it was exciting to see how the fragments fit into the larger body of work. True to the designer's style, the garments invited the eye to wander around the figure, following graph-like embroidery lines, textured seams, tight folds and pleats. Protruding geometric shapes gathering on the sides of skirts and pants (almost like exaggerated jodhpur pants) breathed three-dimensional life into the fabric, creating dynamic architectural forms. Details such as gauzy, transparent blouses, metallic ballet flats and simple camisoles paired with pleated pants infused the neutral palette and modern aesthetic with a feminine flair. As the show progressed, the drama and scale of the shapes grew, too; the last looks exhibited billowing, cowl-like necklines (my favorite!). That said, every look simultaneously exhibited Glaum-Lathbury's awareness of the body—specifically flattering the female form; the garments fit, rather than overwhelmed, the figure.
At the end, the humble designer didn't even walk out with the models to take a bow. However, I'm sure the electric energy in the crowd reached her hiding place in the back of the room.