Subcouture shows to highlight fashion designers from Palestine to Ukraine, feeling very pre-Covid
With life returning to Cambridge after months of grim pandemic, so is fashion, music and art. The Subcentral music and arts space in Central Square has three days of it starting Thursday that might feel a lot like 2019, if not for the required masks and up-to-the-minute wear being provided by six local designers.
The Subcouture shows, put together by Subcentral event coordinator (and model) Kristina Khanenko, has two shows a day, from 3 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 11 p.m., with each dedicated to a designer and their unique visions for an event.
Layal Srouji, a Palestinian, will speak to a moment of renewed tension in the Middle East by mixing her sultry and sometimes revealing knits with a film she made of her grandparents explaining their own escape from war; Ukrainian Robert Yuryevich, a Somerville resident designing under the CNCLD label, promises an immersive environment that captures our surveillance culture; Victoria Gracia of Vival Garca plans to paint the thrifted clothes being worn by her models, Khanenko said.
Also presenting at Subcouture are Patty Trevor, a creation of Nigerian designer and stylist Patrick E. Iloba; Jane Priester, a 18-year-old Tufts student from New York; and Bless By Bless, by Zimbabwean Bless Mazarura.
“They’re all based in Massachusetts and all not from here, and all are trying to establish themselves here inspirations rooted in their cultures whether it’s Ukraine or Palestine or Nigeria or Latin America,” Khanenko said.
The looks promise to be as wide ranging as each fashion newcomer’s origins. Vival Garca’s signature look is the hoodie; CNCLD can boil a statement on consumption down to a T-shirt. But Bless By Bless extends to a velour lounge aesthetic, racy dresses for a night out and jackets that suggests a repurposing of materials at once cozy and post-apocalyptic (and a Genesis 2021 line that cocoons the wearer, thick enough to physically claim space around you just by slipping one on). Somewhat like Mazarura, Layalbylayal shoots us into the future by way of the early 1970s. Though a bit “Barbarella,” a future with her asymmetrical maxi with puffy bell sleeves is one you want to live in. Patty Trevor is aggressively rock ’n’ roll swank – consider the sub-brand name selection of Dappamahn. And Jane Priester reimagines glamor, frequently with unexpected materials: a Ladybug top includes a stiff, reflective plastic plane, and she offers a wood corset, suggesting that each be matched with pants of linen or silk.
Khanenko has modeled for each designer, which was the original connective tissue for Subcouture, along with simply feeling like it was time to again gather people to enjoy creativity. “It’s Covid, or it’s post Covid, and how do you enjoy fashion? How do you enjoy art? It’s this idea of being scared to go out in public places that’s why we are here trying to combine all of this together and present something fun,” Khanenko said.
Subcouture also, however, provides a noncorporate base where a scattered and underestimated fashion industry and other creatives can be knit together for collaboration and support – part of Subcentral’s devotion to scene and subculture. “We wanted to have a diverse representation of what is really an undervalued and unappreciated fashion and design scene,” said Diego Torres, a press liaison for Subcentral, who argues that Greater Boston has the talent to be recognized as a premier fashion definition within the next few years. Khanenko agrees it’s time to fly the area’s fashion flag: “I don’t think there’s actually a fashion establishment [here]. But why does fashion have to be different from any other art that is presented here in Central Square? I feel like it blends nicely with other stuff happening here.”
“What we’re here to do is bring that creativity to the surface,” she said. “People feel like they don’t have a place to be. But they do.”
The Subcouture shows are $20 by the day or $45 for a three-day pass are are held at Subcentral, 645 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Thursday brings together LayalbyLayal and CNCLD; Friday is Vival Garco and Patty Trevor; and Saturday presents Jane Priester and Bless By Bless. Tickets are here.