Chromat’s Spring ’17 Show Was Model Iskra Lawrence’s First Runway Show, Ever

Photo: Courtesy of Chromat.
Chromat uses a gloriously diverse roster of models. It's always one of the most inclusive runways at NYFW (and Fashion Month, really). This time around, the beautifully varied lineup included three trans models (Carmen Carrera, Leyna Bloom, and Maya Monès); T.S.S. survivor, amputee, and activist Lauren Wasser; and a range of non-straight-sized models, including Iskra Lawrence in her first-ever runway show. You'll probably recognize Lawrence from her Aerie campaigns. The size-14 model is an outspoken body-positivity advocate: Look no further than her brilliant "f*ck you" to body-shamers that involved cavorting in a pile of potato-chip bags. As for Chromat's designs this season, designer Becca McCharen's latest spate of sexy, sleek, techy sportswear and swimwear for spring '17, entitled Hyperwave, was inspired by female athletes like Serena Williams, Olympic gold-decorated swimmer Simone Manuel, and flyboard world champion Gemma Weston. Ahead, McCharen fills us in on this season's casting and more.
Photo: Courtesy of Chromat.
Chromat was Iskra Lawrence's very first runway show. Why is it significant for a successful, non-straight-sized commercial model to be represented on the runway?
"I have loved seeing Iskra's body activism. She was cast in the show because of her confident, powerful walk and her voice in the industry. I'm so excited that Chromat is the first show for so many models; fall was Lauren Wasser's first show with her bionic leg; and a few years ago, it was Denise Bidot's first show, as well. It definitely won't be their last! I'm so excited to see the fashion industry opening up to what we at Chromat have focused on all along — designing for and celebrating of all body types, races, abilities, and places on the gender spectrum."
Photo: Courtesy of Chromat.
You always have incredibly diverse casting. What were you striving for with your cast of models for spring '17?
"This season's casting was actually one of my favorite so far! Our casting director, Gilleon Smith, always does an amazing job. Every season, the casting is a celebration of the Chromat world and all the inspirational women in it. I have loved seeing model's voices emerge through documentaries like Straight/Curve. Models like Denise Bidot, Sabina Karlsson, Carmen Carrera, Maya Monès, Lauren Wasser, and Iskra Lawrence are paving the way for a more inclusive fashion industry. I'm proud that these amazing women came to slay in the show. The energy after the runway show this season was insane."

Any new models, besides Iskra, you were particularly excited to include?
"I've been a big fan of Carmen Carrera, our show-opener, ever since seeing her on RuPaul's Drag Race, which is my wife Christine and my favorite show. It was also her first NYFW runway show. And of course, our show closer, Leyna [Bloom] always brings the drama to the catwalk! She has amazing energy and really knows how to work the runway. They both happen to be transgender women and we cast them for their confident walks and of course their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent."
Photo: Courtesy of Chromat.
Your shows always incorporate interesting technological aspects; what's the latest?
"We're interested in bodyscanning and 3-D printing as tools to develop the future of fully customizable garments. Soon, everyone will have a bodyscan of themselves and will be able to download clothing files online, to be printed at home in custom sizing and prints. Our collaborators at Bodylabs are pioneering the technology that allows you to virtually try-on clothes while online shopping. The accessibility and inclusiveness of custom fit for all body sizes and types is our ultimate goal. "We collaborated with dancer and choreographer Mela Murder to create original choreography inspired by the spring 2017 collection. Mela is pregnant and is interpreting this utmost female power through the shape and movement of her body. Mela’s choreography was bodyscanned by Bodylabs [you can see them, here] and emerged live from the Formlabs 3-D printers. Formlabs is a specialized printing process which utilizes laser technology to bond molecules of liquid into form — a sort of 'digital pregnancy.' We will have the Formlabs printers set up at our pop-up shop at FYI at MADE Fashion Week starting this Monday, September 12 to showcase the printed choreography. "Our runway show was part one of this digital collaboration. Next week at the Tumblr Fashion Honors event, we will be debuting Mela’s choreography in a fashion film by CGI artists Pussykrew, which is s rendering Mela's scans and motion capture in an entire digital world."

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