PUTTING THE FUN IN SERIOUSLY BEAUTIFUL FASHION
Stepping backstage at Libertine is like going to visit that kid you knew from school, you know, the slightly dizzy one, the one you could never quite get a handle on, but seeing, year after year, he’s getting more grown up, more talented, and more successful.
When I first saw Libertine and the wonderful Johnson Hartig, he was showing at Exit Art, a small, eclectic space on the far West Side. He moved around, like a happy vagabond, to ever more bohemian venues. Then, last season, pure serendipity led him to a space in the Tents, I think it was The Stage, or maybe The Studio. No matter, he still smacked of the kid taken by his parents to a big, fancy restaurant, not quite knowing how he fit in.
This season, he was in the newest venue, The Pavillion, a marbled (or marbel-like), austere room with a walking space that can be transformed into any route a designer desires. It’s a very grown up room for a very grown-up designer, showing a fun-yet-sophisticated collection.
And, what a collection. First down the runway, Hartig’s muse, the always gorgeous Michelle, in a long, velvety two-piece, shining with this years embellishments, inspired by frost, snow, Gerhard Richter and Christopher Wool. The black gave way to tweeds, beiges, and bold, bright jewel tones, all sparkling in a way only Johnson seems able to accomplish.
There was a ton or outerwear in this collection, one in powder blue was fresh and young, others in plaid and bright, bold colors were covered in everything from jewels to skulls.
Mixing prints and patterns is his specialty, in ways no one else would imagine, but they work so well for Libertine.
Once again, his menswear collection is bold and wild and made for the bravest, and most fashion-forward, young men.
It has been fun, watching Libertine grow, and Johnson Hartig grow along with it. His loyal following will love what he’s put down the runway for fall. I only hope he will never lose that little boy in the “SUP” jammie bottoms who creates such fun, and beautiful, fashion.
Photography: Anton Brookes