Designer Kim Mesches has led me through the industry with a gentle guiding hand through the years as a personal friend and mentor. It has been inspiring to watch his beautifully crafted designs develop at lightning speed through the years. I shot one of his first lookbooks in his Bushwick apartment just three years ago and now he is being featured on Amazon.com as an emerging designer.
Kim called me before the madness of NYFW and said, “I have a crazy idea and I thought you would be down…” We met at a local haunt and after discussing his wild and crazy idea began what would be a few months of planning. What came to fruition was a raucous, guerilla-style runway show that was held on the L train dividing Manhattan and Brooklyn. The audience was a diverse group of New Yorkers with looks of confusion, fascination, excitement and interest as Kim presented his new line. A perfect combination of old money versus new style; the dichotomy of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The show lasted an hour and a half, six train rides, starting at Bedford Avenue and ending at Union Square, and back. We dodged cops, parted the crowd for a runway and hosted the presentation on the platform between trains. As I watched these professional models strut on a moving train, I felt that Mesches had successfully executed what would be deemed the first subway runway show.
We began the day at Deluxe Hair Salon. Anomaly Models cast 5 of their top runway models to walk in the show. The stylists created a look that blended classic beauty with a futuristic edge. Kim coolly walked around advising and prepping models when they finished hair and makeup. His seemingly cool demeanor hid what I could only imagine he felt on the inside. Before the show he casually told me, “I think there could be a few legal issues that I would run into, but I’m not worried about that, it can add to it as a whole I think. Just keeping the production moving as planned should be interesting enough.”
The night before I was imagining every possible circumstance that could have go awry. From cops, to aggressive hecklers, I tried to prepare myself for the worst. Somehow the show went off without a hitch. A team of videographers led by Zach Jopling captured the entire process and I was there to document. ‘Only in New York’ is a saying that I was very much reminded of when we finally wrapped the day, shuffling the last of the elaborate garments through the turnstiles and heading back to the salon.
A few nights later Kim and I were in a cab home after celebratory drinks. We were discussing the day and I learned exactly why he chose to put on an anti-fashion show. He told me, “Fashion has this stigma about it, it’s so exclusive and unapproachable. Especially during fashion week, which is becoming more about being seen than the actual fashions. People are going to shows/events to take an Instagram, so why not really give the people something to post about with a guerrilla runway show…’I’m just tired of it all.’”
His ideology reminded me of why we are such good friends. From the moment we met at his Bushwick loft, Kim has been all about the art of his craft, never compromising his true vision for the money. During our conversation he spoke in a sad tone, describing the death of fashion week. “It used to be cool, it used to be amazing. Through the years this has all changed.” After going through this most recent season, I felt it too.
We are in a changing time of fashion, models have left the covers, and celebrities are now the faces of all brands trying to sling their goods to the masses. Sales are the only thing that matter and while the social spaces provide a great platform for emerging designers, they also contribute to the commodity of art in the fashion world. See that trending article that slyly hints a product? That was sponsored. JNCO jeans just made a comeback. Oh you heard? Well that was not an accident.
The world needs more “crazy ideas” and less standard strategy. The viral nature of this show only added to the dialogue Mesches is looking to create. #UnderTheGround became the anthem to the rise of Kim’s new collection and his message to the people. Check out his work and you can see for yourself.