Why These NYC Designers Wanted A Police Lineup At Their Show

Photo: MCV Photo
Public School Men's Fall 2016 collection
Yesterday, Public School presented their Spring 2016 men's collection during New York Fashion Week: Men's. But the focus wasn't exactly on the clothes. Designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne showed their dark, monochrome, sporty getups against a white backdrop with police lineup markings. Why did Chow and Osborne want this crew of models, interspersed with some slightly more "regular" guys, like Twin Shadow's Gordon Lewis Jr. and street style staple Nick Wooster, to look so guilty?

"We wanted to promote the idea of unity amongst people of all different cultures and races, especially in these times," Chow and Osborne said in a statement. "Creating a backdrop that normally contextualizes and marginalizes a specific group of people reinforces the need of this kind of solidarity, shaking up the traditional notions and images of who you would normally assume to see in this setting. But we're really all the same when we're lined up side by side." The designers were unavailable for further comment.

It's not surprising that Public School would make a statement extending far beyond the sartorial. Chow and Osborne, both native New Yorkers, have honed in on NYC (and broader worldly matters) in past collections, and the past year has been appallingly filled with police brutality and racial tension. To wit: Freddie Gray's death after sustaining a spinal cord injury while in police custody in Baltimore last April, the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August, and the NYPD officer that killed Eric Garner in Staten Island by placing him in a chokehold this past July. To make matters more timely, a settlement of $5.9 million for Garner's family was reached on Monday, though according to Garner's mother, the outcome is "not a victory."

"The message is that no one's guilty and everyone's guilty...side-by-side, we're all the same. No one's any better or any worse than the person standing next to them set against a police lineup," Chow told The New York Daily News.

The clothes themselves didn't garner the most glowing reviews: "While the collection celebrated their greatest hits, it didn’t add anything new to their arsenal," according to WWD. But the concept of being equal, in the best and worst of circumstances, certainly made a statement.
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Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.
Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow
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