Going backstage at a fashion show is sort of like taking a blind taste test. It can be fun and surprising, a bit nauseating (yep, we're thinking of that Hood by Air x Pornhub mash-up), even shocking — as is always the case at Libertine.
The L.A.-based brand, founded by Johnson Hartig and Cindy Greene in 2001, knows how to make a statement and leave fancy industry vets with their jaws dropped. Last September, Hartig (now the sole designer) debuted a ready-to-wear collection more politically charged than a Bill Maher tweet and a corresponding punk rock beauty look. This year, he's back with a style that takes his anti-establishment M.O. to the next level.
The clothes were a pop art dream and the smoky eyes were so damn cool, but the main attraction, the thing we couldn't look away from, was the nails. Backstage, after promising "a very exciting unveiling" in an email a few hours prior, CND's Style Director Jan Arnold and lead nail artist Heather Reynosa pulled away a black sheet to reveal a lineup of brightly-colored nails that took over 1,000 hours to make and $3,000 worth of fine crystals.
But it was the NSFW details that made the beauty editors in the room utter a collective "Oh. My. God.": safety pins, blades, spilled pills, red poppy flowers, psychedelic swirls labeled "acid trips," and... silver coke spoons?
The looks are meant to symbolize what the collection embodies: vintage punk rock, escapism, and the kind of rebellious, anything-goes attitude that's been missing in NYC since Studio 54 turned into a place that serves pan-seared halibut.
"Basically it’s punk couture," said Arnold. "Johnson [Hartig] is going back to his roots. He was the first to do skulls on fabric. He was the first to really bring the rebellion of libertine [and] hedonism to his life and styling," she explains.
Hartig even tried on his own set of nails, then waved his hand in the air. "Graphics, crystals, sparkle, cocaine! Lots of cocaine," he said, before explaining that he grew up in Southern California where there was a thriving punk rock scene. "I was a little bit young, but I definitely partook. These are all sort of nostalgic graphics."
Read these stories next: