There was a playful vibe at VFILES Made Fashion, which launched Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center on Wednesday—marking the first time the cool-kid social-networking fashion platform took NYFW’s main stage. Proving they do it differently, whether we’re talking e-commerce or an uptown show, they opened with a scooter and closed with a poodle. In between, they featured exciting looks by four crowd-sourced designers and a refreshingly diverse cast of models.
“I think it’s a huge watershed moment for the fashion industry,” said VFILES founder Julie Ann Quay backstage before the show. “I think it freaks people out.” Since Quay launched VFILES in 2012, they’ve pioneered a model of e-commerce, social networking, and original content that has changed the rules of how to be a brand or sell a fashion-forward collection. VFILES’s rapid success in only three short years is proof that the rules and gatekeepers of fashion have changed. “It’s like who put all these glass ceilings up? They don’t need to be there. If I want to be a brand or do a show, I should be able to do it,” contended Quay.
That spirit of challenging conventional stepping stones pervaded the show, which had models and makeup artists who’d never done a show before. “You know, guys here are saying, ‘Your models have never walked on a runway before, how are they going to do this?’” said Quay, who retorted, “Well they can walk and they can follow arrows, they’ll be fine!”
Quay was excited that having a show at Lincoln Center would mean big exposure for the four young designers that VFILES found within their online community. Anyone was open to submit their collection to vfiles.com and their editorial team along with a panel of mentors chose the winning four designers. “It’s really fun to put them on the global stage,” added Quay.
First came a brief display of VFILES’s own Sport Plus line, basics were modeled by decidedly not basic downtown it-girls (including Hari Nef, DeSe, Sadaf, and Alexandra Marzella), then came the four competition winners’ collections. First up on the runway was Zurich-based Julia Seeman, whose bulky denim skirts were offset by red accents, crimped hair, big floppy hats, and a few bare midriffs. Next was Beijing-born and New York-based Andrea Jiapei Li whose exaggerated collars and cuffs sung on her geometric designs that were playful yet sophisticated, featuring a palette of white, navy, tan, and burgundy accented by pink and baby blue. The only menswear designer was Hong Kong-raised Parsons grad Ximon Lee whose heavy-hanging deconstructed garments had a post-apocalyptic vibe. And finally, the show closed with Aussie duo Di$count’s sexy pop-tart designs featuring sequined cartoon illustrations, long silhouettes, and bright colors.
Quay is determined to take the buzz from this Lincoln Center debut and channel it back into their democratic model. “I think the old-school validation will help us grow. We need our message to come out of New York. I want people in the Midwest to say, ‘I can be this. I can be a superstar.’”