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Hipster-Hassidic: Fashion Forward or Just Plain Wrong?

by Matthew Wexler
Contributor
Monday Feb 18, 2013
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There was one last bang as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week winded down last week.

Actually, make that a shofar blow.

Ricardo Seco’s fall/winter 2013 collection was inspired by his recent move to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where hipster and Hasidic culture collided to create "ALIVE."

Born in Torreon, Mexico, Seco is considered one of the country’s most influential designers. After a dozen years in business, the self-taught Torreon went on to study design at the Marangoni Institute in Milan and Paris.

Continuing to challenge himself creatively, his designs often feature detailed fabrics, patterns and sophisticated fits. Unfortunately, this second men’s collection (the first debuted at New York Fashion Week in February 2012) looked less like innovative design and more like costumes for an all-Jewish production of "Spring Awakening."

Struck by the intersection of these cross-pollinating cultures, Ricardo attempted to incorporate the strict formality of the Hassidic dress code with the just-rolled-out-of-bed look of the younger Williamsburg crowd, incorporating a variety of fabrics and textures including leather, velvet, wool, cashmere and cotton.

"I observed men who acknowledged and respected religion; who were in touch with music and art," said Seco. "I felt a deep respect for their culture." His interpretation included relaxed, oversized garments in an expected palette of gray, black and white with the occasional hit of green.

The collection premiered in The Eyebeam Art + Technology Center in the Chelsea gallery district. Like many local galleries, hurricane Irene hit The Eyebeam hard and it was great to see the space open to the public. The clothes, while on point with Seco’s inspiration, didn’t appear particularly innovative or unexpected.

The models were styled with yamakas and payos (the sidecurls often worn by boys and men in the Orthodox Jewish community). The effect felt a bit forced, as well as the "Yentl"-inspired female model tossed into the mix. Perhaps a rendition of "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" may have perked things up.

While Seco seemed struck by the convergence of history, religion, culture and urban development, the collection ultimately felt like disparate pieces that could already be found on the rack. As he continues to explore his men’s line in future seasons, perhaps the execution will meet the inspiration.


Matthew Wexler is EDGE's National Style and Travel Editor. More of his writing can be found at www.roodeloo.com. He is also a trained chef and currently writing a food memoir.

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