More Context

Your Resource for the Stories Behind Some of Fall/Winter 2018’s Best Pieces

  • Text: SSENSE Editors

E-commerce is fast and convenient. That’s why we’re all addicted to shopping online. But in order for something to become super-fast, it’s got to shed some layers. Oftentimes, the first thing to go is the history. A garment's raison d'être. In More Context, the SSENSE editors select six Fall/Winter 2018 pieces that deserve a little extra explanation. From an illegal keychain to a notable reissue or a unique collaboration, there’s a lot more behind the seams than you’d think—call it the SSENSE Wikipedia.

Featured In This Image: Yang Li t-shirt.

Yang Li Psychic TV

For a fan of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV who finds themselves shopping on a luxury fashion website, the first impulse on seeing Yang Li’s Samizdat x Psychic TV t-shirt might understandably be to roll the eyes. But this is not one of those typical instances of high-end fashion shamelessly cherry-picking from a counterculture they have no organic relationship to. Yang Li is not only an obsessive, dedicated fan of noise and industrial music with a genuine connection to the scene, he is also a friend of Genesis P-Orridge. The collaboration, which features t-shirts like this “Hero” long sleeve, imagines merch for a Psychic TV European tour, figuring a young Genesis on the front and a rejection letter from BBC’s John Peel on the back. The collection comes as a tribute to the tour that Psychic TV had to cancel last year after Genesis was diagnosed with leukemia. Li also organized an auction in September, selling some of his personal Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV archive as well as pieces from the Samizdat x Psychic TV collection, to raise money for Genesis’ ongoing medical treatment. This is how you collaborate.

Featured In This Image: COLMAR A.G.E. by Shayne Oliver jacket.

Colmar A.G.E. by Shayne Oliver

For over 90 years, the family-run Italian luxury brand, Colmar, has been designing technical ski clothing, specializing in sleek, aerodynamic silhouettes. Modernizing alpine gear has become the brand’s signature, so it was inevitable—in these hype-heritage times—that a collaboration would result. Enter the unexpected part. Founder of Hood by Air, Shayne Oliver, has joined forces with Colmar to create the brand’s latest project, inspired by its original designs: quilted trousers that bring to mind Colmar’s specialty gaiters and concept coats influenced by the “Thirring,” an inflated 1930s bat-shaped cape complete with glider wings. But while the collection’s alpine nostalgia is clear, one can’t help but think of another silhouette: Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear. Those flared plastic legs and purple wings. Proportions made for space or ski slopes or Shayne Oliver. For taking off. For flight. Hood by Air-borne. To infinity and beyond. Etc.

Featured In This Image: Helmut Lang vest.

Helmut Lang “Bulletproof” Vest

If you’re a discerning fashion head, one of the most coveted garments to have in your collection is an original Helmut Lang “bulletproof” vest. First debuted in Lang’s Fall/Winter 1997 show, the vest served as a staple item in his collections in the late 90s and has long since become a grail for seasoned fashion collectors and streetwear kids who’ve done their research. A rarity, originals of this vest can now be found online going for anywhere from $580 on Grailed to $4,500 on eBay. Today, it’s common, almost expected, for designers to take inspiration from military uniforms and tactical gear in their designs, and this Helmut Lang vest can be credited as a major influence. Reissued by the brand last year, it seems we’re in the era of archive digging, from Kim Jones and Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Saddle Bag comeback at Dior to Hedi Slimane’s revival of the first Celine logo. The exclusive nature of originals still remains—fashion purists will argue that a vintage Margiela Tabi is much cooler than a new pair—but regardless of where you stand, you can now own a piece of re-produced fashion history, delivered to your door.

Featured In This Image: Yohji Yamamoto leggings.

Yohji Yamamoto Black Woven Patch Leggings

It’s a major omission that Yohji Yamamoto and Azzedine Alaïa don’t usually make the cut on the list of most legendary friendships in fashion. These leggings, along with the entirety of Yamamoto’s Fall/Winter 2018 collection, were inspired in part by Cubism, but also by his longstanding friendship with Alaïa, whose passing last year led to a global outpour of tributes. Yamamoto designed this show as an homage to “mon cher Azzedine." Friends since the late eighties, both kept a low profile and small circle of confidants. Every Yohji Yamamoto collection is special, but this one is particularly unique, a gesture of mourning, and the closing of a chapter.

Featured In This Image: Balenciaga keychain.

Balenciaga Green Leather Tree Keychain

In 1952, a Nazi-fleeing German-Jewish chemist synthesized his Alpine tree aroma research into Little Trees—disposable, conifer-shaped air fresheners. By the 90s, Little Trees came in a plethora of scents: Bayside Breeze, Coconut, Vanillaroma, New Car Smell, Black Ice. Smelling one might call to your millennial mind memories of the aughts, hotboxing a sedan in your teens, perhaps—an era that luxury houses continue to repurpose. The proof is everywhere, but mostly, Balenciaga. The Green Leather Tree Keychain is a near-perfect likeness to what we're so accustomed to seeing dangling and faded from a rear-view mirror. So much the same that Little Tree, (now the Car-Freshener Corporation) is suing Balenciaga, lest customers become confused and accidentally pay a hundred times the price for what they think is their go-to automobile air refresher. All units of this keychain have since been recalled from retailers as a result of this court case. With the recent legalization of cannabis in Canada, Little Trees persist, with or without Balenciaga.

Featured In This Image: Ashley Williams hair clips.

Ashley Williams Diamond Hair Pins

Take a word, construct it with crystals, pin it to your ponytail and you've got the formula for the ultimate cultural clapback. Or rather, Ashley Williams does, with her bejeweled hair clip designs that became 2018's most beautiful—and necessary—social statements. Consider Selena Gomez, who, after being called "really ugly" in an Instagram comment from the ever-slimy Stefano Gabbana earlier this year, trolled him right back and slipped an "UGLY" diamond accessory into her slicked shiny locks. Then there was The Florida Project star Bria Vinaite, known for her colorful personality and carefree stoner mentality, who opened Williams' Spring/Summer 2019 show sporting a spiked-up ponytail as a backdrop for the words "SAD" and "FUCK," a juxtaposition reminding us to look beyond the surface. Or what about rapper bbymutha, who quite literally sparkled in an editorial for SSENSE, donning "SEX" in her curls as a nod to her unapologetic openness about the topic. Here, in your hair, the context is what you make it.

  • Text: SSENSE Editors