I want to be the first to apologize about Eckhaus Latta’s show being one hour and one minute late. The situation was cruel: Another big-time brand was showing on the Hudson River, 54 minutes away from Eckhaus Latta’s usual spot on Scott Avenue in Bushwick. Critics, editors, and other members of the press were forced to choose between the two shows, and a few of us were tasked with reporting on both.
In my long, long car ride, the irony set in that I was leaving a show about connecting with the youth of New York to sprint to Brooklyn to find both young and establishment New Yorkers waiting to see what Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta cooked up. The Drunken Canal’s Claire Banse and Gutes Guterman called it “the show, the only show!” of New York Fashion Week, but it was obvious from the hundreds of people crowded into their seats, including Rosalía and Troye Sivan, and in the standing section that they weren’t exaggerating.
Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta have built up such goodwill not only because they are thoughtful designers and kind people, but because they are consistent. Of all the New York brands, they were the only ones to figure out how to have an intimate live show in September 2020. Even in the bleakest of times, even when they don’t have the answer just yet, Eckhaus and Latta are pushing forward, striving, trying—and they are not compromising for anyone, even the fashion system that squashed their show in the middle of a rushed day.
What they sent out at dusk was one of their most concise, exacting collections ever. “It’s about feeling more free,” said Eckhaus. “Really feeling yourself, coming out of the past year-and-a-half and wanting to feel sexy and confident and free.” Garments were filmy, thin dust-colored layers of nylon layered together, ivory cotton dresses and bodysuits with oval cutouts and hundreds of snaps, and airy shirts in lime and faux leather jackets in cinnamon left open. Pieces were named after transient, erotic words: vapor turtleneck, undone jumpsuit, wisp dress.
The torsos were out, the nipples were out, and in a statement of intent: models wore black thongs instead of the industry-standard beige. Top notes of Lang and undertones of Cianciolo are always felt in their collections; this one was more Helmut, less Susan, even if she did walk in an eggplant knit set: A parade of sleek, honest, horny garments that lusts for the human body in a sort of clinical way.
Both Latta and Eckhaus had a reckoning with their own bodies this past year; she became a first-time mother, he had a breakup and then the requisite hot boy summer. “We’re going through different things, but we both have a desire to just be fucking real,” said Latta. So let’s get real: We’re all held together by a string or a snap, doing the best we can. The sign on the building behind the runway read “Enlightenment.” After that show, I’m feeling good about fashion.