WHY FASHION? THE GOOD NEWS OF TELFAR COUNTRY
images courtesy of: WWD
TELFAR’s Fall 2019 presentation was nothing like I’d ever seen in over a decade of being an international fashion journalist. There was no runway. Rather, the models would saunter somberly to the end of a stage and then surrender to the crowd, who would then carry them across forcing the crowd to part. The show incorporated a powerful live reading of poetry– a soliloquy by a young playwright from Yale named Jeremy O. Harris— alongside multiple live music performances. Harris would declare a manifesto, “THIS IS TELFAR COUNTRY” over the course of 15 minutes with complex poetic prose, while models donning clearly country western inspired looks would present themselves in what almost felt like a borderline politicized religious ceremony in the South. The models themselves were diverse, but predominantly black. The clothing was classic cowboy (leather, corduroy, fringes, blue denim, statement belt buckles bearing the Telfar logo) meets “post-normcore” basics (hoodies, jeans, cropped solid cotton tees) all very wearable and accessible. There were jeans with cleverly placed black and brown leather panels, which made them resemble chaps.
The crowd cheered fervently as each model was delivered to them. Some models deliberately posing dramatically and remaining upright in the style of martyr, while others appeared to collapse backwards in the style of a trust fall. As Harris’ remarkable “sermon” came to a close, I realized I would need time to process what I had just seen. Next the captivating hardcore punk rappers Ho99o9 [pronounced “horror”] who incidentally also used to be my upstairs neighbors in Echo Park, LA (shout out Jean and Eaddy!) began performing their cult classics like “Street Power” on the remains of a tattered american flag framing the stage. I knew it was all incredible, but even a week later I still found myself at a loss– what did it all mean?