Some feel their spirits soar skywards when they hear Britney Spears on a show soundtrack. Others (that would be me) get that same sense of ascendancy when something like the 1979 goth anthem “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus starts twanging and reverberating all over the sound system, the bassline plucking away in the same way you might navigate a city street at night. (That is: Slowly and purposefully.) And where was Bauhaus singer Pete Murphy intoning his doomy pronouncement about the dear departed Mr. Lugosi today? At The Row presentation. Ahhh, hold up a minute. A screeching sound of brake here. The Row? Bauhaus? What's up?
Well, not what you may think. This wasn’t a gothic collection from Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, not by any stretch of the imagination. OK, maybe you could muse on some connection if you count the preponderance of wrought, all enveloping black looks sprinkled throughout the show, like those that opened it; a duo of double-faced tabard-y ponchos conjured out of gorgeous planes of the darkest cashmere over high roll neck sweaters and flat lace-ups. There was more black in the form of The Row’s new coat shape, double breasted, tailored with a wide shouldered ease, a scarf-like panel dropping over one sleeve. Appropriately enough, evening got in on the act too; for some time now there has been the incisive way they’ve been experimenting with all sorts of folding and draping, best seen here on a strapless black ensemble, with sleeves wrapped to cinch the waist.
That the Olsens are committed to all manner of creative construction was underscored by so much of that sumptuous outerwear, particularly a (yet another) black coat, masculine and classic in shape, but with the surprise of the shoulder construction was tacked onto the shoulders. Though not everything was dark, dark, dark. Sensational color would appear every now and again: an eau de nil evening dress, magically created out of what looked like interwoven ribbons; a classic clutch coat in vermillion.
What that Bauhaus song did was set up a hypnotic, compelling, and ever so slightly unraveling vibe, a counterpoint to the commanding and winning way they have with all sorts of super luxe materials and finishes and techniques. Take the Olsens’ newest iteration of a bag, a capacious tote whose raw fraying edges, exposing the inner workings, only serve to reveal how perfectly made they were.
Which recalled something seen on the way to the show, just around the corner from the venue. A young woman was in her workroom, repairing a shoe, a sea of other footwear around her; absolutely dedicated to her craft, to making something last that little bit longer. She and The Row show were geographically close, but that’s not the only way they shared an affinity. At a moment when we’re all yearning for some longevity to what we buy and own, it’s possible to find it—and to feel good about holding onto it.