As the final slivers of daylight slipped away and the night stars appeared, a shroud of silence slowly washed over the crowd as Fear Of God’s first runway show was set to begin. To set the atmosphere was a selection of melodic songs by Sampha, who aptly glided across the keys of a stainless upright piano and sang to soothe the crowd. Love was clear. Tranquility was clear. But a fusion of contemplative reverence came through the opening arrangement – setting the mood for Jerry Lorenzo’s well-thought-out runway offering.
Since Fear Of God’s emergence in 2013, the brand has become a signifier of new-age American luxury. Even with the label’s streetwear roots, its catalog of offerings with each passing season has opened the dialogue on what exactly is American luxury and who defines what its parameters are. By planting its feet at Los Angeles’ renowned Hollywood Bowl amphitheater, Lorenzo crafted his show to reflect that evolution only exists in its acknowledgment of history. As Sampha departed from the minimal, yet grand step-like stage, a sampling of “Glory” seeped through speakers before Nina Simone’s cover of “Strange Fruit” swiftly followed. In opening the show, Lorenzo made clear that acknowledgment of American history would be incomplete without showcasing the pain of the Black experience. Then out came the first model.
With each passing look, it was clear that each collection over the past decade has been leading to this moment. With sublimely tailored overcoats that draped off the shoulders, broad blazers, freely moving yet contained pants and minimally elegant tops, the Fall/Winter 2023 pieces reveal a succession of design growth from the brand. Even though tailoring served as a collection mainstay once again, the pieces were heightened by gracefully broad shoulders (seen by Adut Akech), sharp yet soft lines and leather wrap detailing.
Beyond specific pieces, the collection blended the brand’s previous usage of elegantly muted shades like buttermilk, hazelwood, toffee, pecan, pewter gray and black with luxurious wool, leather, boucle, faux fur and cotton fabrics. The show wouldn’t have been completed with adidas pieces, which appeared via shorts, baseball caps and gym bags.
As looks continued to cascade down the runway, the music transitioned from contemplative piano keys to C-Murder’s “Down For My Ni**az,” which has become a celebrated HBCU tune (nods to Lorenzo’s FAMU attendance) and a song of cultural confidence. It’s the air of confidence and triumph as a result of pain that pervades the Black experience – a feeling Lorenzo aptly reveals as a hallmark of American tradition – the ugly and the beautiful. From enslavement to freedom, Christianity and Black creativity, Lorenzo used his debut showing as a means of not just reflection, but celebration.
Elsewhere in fashion, FENDI officially unveils its much-anticipated Marc Jacobs capsule collection.