The last time Shayne Oliver put on a fashion show in New York, it was soundtracked by the sounds of orgasms and sponsored by Pornhub. Since 2017, when he placed Hood by Air on hold, a lot has changed, but Oliver’s ability to electrify and disrupt the fashion industry has remained constant. And oh how he did it again with his exhibition of new ensembles at The Shed, complete with models transformed by makeup artist Pat McGrath.
Oliver’s art defies easy categorization. He’s fusing fashion, music, culture, performance, and art in a way that’s loaded with experimentation and accomplished with the support of a vast community.
For McGrath’s first collaboration with Oliver, the creative geniuses teamed together to bring a fantasy of “human bouquets” to life. While creating nine various cosmetic looks, the two exchanged photographs and videos throughout the entire process. McGrath and her team drew an array of items from her office archive, including silk flowers, feathers, and crystals, as well as crackling clay, glitter, and pearls. To allow the details to read as works of art, skin was finished with Pat McGrath Labs’ Skin Fetish Highlighter and Balm Duo, and lips were administered a clean swipe of Lip Fetish Sheer Colour Balm—though some were ink dipped in Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner. Holli Smith‘s horn-shaped braids and textured wigs, along with Dawn Sterling‘s green, stemlike nails meant that models’ faces resembled bleached or fiery, neon psychopsis orchids.
Oliver’s latest stuff appears to be inspired by chaos. With pointed toes, the elongated boots and shoes featured in his show meant that some of the models moved through the crowd with an awkward stride, not quite following a single path. His art is undoubtedly apt for the current climate, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
His Black Toiles were the dripping-in-crystals looks that introduced the exhibition, cut to display all the strangest, most sensual regions of the body. The looks, which include collaborations with Telfar Clemens, Ugg, and artist Benjamin Langford, whose floral illustrations were cut and draped into gowns, are based on his first Shayne Oliver collection—which will be fully debuted at a later date.
Each black look is inspired by a song Oliver wrote as part of his Wench musical project with Arca, a Venezuelan artist whose birth name is Alejandra Ghersi Rodrguez. Their album will be out soon, and each look from the show will correspond to a song and will also serve as the cover art for that tune. Exciting stuff.
Oliver’s multimedia initiative is the new vision that fashion needs after a year of a combination of digital, phygital, and conventional runways, even though some might fail to comprehend the breadth and creativity of his work.