The beauty of AREA’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection lay in its crystal skeleton. The otherworldly label, founded in 2014 by designers Piotrek Panszczyk and Beckett Fogg (and now creatively led by Panszczyk), presented a medley of Swarovski-clad couture and ready-to-wear pieces inspired by primal instincts and their evolution through fashion history, beginning with two core materials: bones and fur.
The connotations behind these objects have drastically shifted through generations: what once were indispensable items are today viewed as cultural signifiers of higher class. In this collection, AREA looked to break down this notion and reimagine what these symbols can mean through fashionable innovations.
Staged inside the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, the line set its centuries-old inspirations against one of Brooklyn’s oldest financial institutions, built in the 1870s. Panszczyk began by investigating fur: examining how the material was historically used for warmth and its development into a glamorous (albeit environmentally unfriendly) style motif. Making it modern, the brand explored fur through trompe l’oeil denim, fluid crepe viscose and silk jacquard.
AREA photocopied age-old fur pelts to create its fabricated artworks, which were then draped with triangular shapes inside skirts, dresses and collection-defining couture coats. Trousers and outerwear, too, received the textural treatment, and the results were triple-take-worthy garments ideal for the empresses of alternate planets.
Meanwhile, the inventive imprint’s adornments referenced some of the world’s first-ever jewelry pieces that were made from bone. To bring this concept into 2023, AREA crafted organic bone shapes with three design techniques — lacquer, crystal bombé and molding — to effectively fuel the skeletal pieces with high-octane mystique. The lacquered iterations, which were tied into couture gowns, enlisted resin enamel and embellishments of Swarovski rivoli crystal, while the bombé bones took the glimmer to an even shinier place, with thousands of Swarovski gems forming skull heads, bracelets and colliers. Molded claws, meanwhile, offered disruptive distressing on formalwear and denim.
Referencing the past’s survival tools, Panszczyk built a collection for a utopic future — even if that future might only occur in a parallel universe. This is the world of AREA, one that only continues to ingeniously exist outside the realms of what’s expected.
See AREA’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection in the gallery above, and stay tuned to Hypebeast for more New York Fashion Week coverage.