TRANSMISSIONS: NFTinis, Skirt Sets, and Cognitive Dissonance
TRANSMISSIONS is a communicable and speculative sociological research column by JORDAN RICHMAN. Traversing the globe and immersing himself into perceived moments of relevance, Richman mines the fields of fashion and culture – extracting with you his thoughts, encounters, and societal foreshadowing.
When our correspondent set out to cover Frieze related festivities in Los Angeles, the talk of the town – and the Twittersphere – was a hyped-up cultural “vibe shift.” By the time he was done reporting on fashion weeks in New York and Milan, trend forecasts themselves became obsolete. Nothing mattered but the present reality of war.
Web2 can be paralysis. Moments after posting a meme I made to my private Instagram account I’m confronted by the creator of the image. Its provenance is unbeknownst to me; I apologize. The creator replies, amused, and is happy for me to use the picture. I thank them and acknowledge their photo’s great memetic potential. Truthfully, I’m relieved. It is impossible to make a move without some cloutbeast coming for you, and I’ll leave it to the more obvious of intellects to ponder Anna Delvey, indie sleaze, Julia Fox, and the Drunken Canal-ification of Kanye West. These same sophomoric ideas being passed around from podcasts to substacks like a Miu Miu skirt set. I’m ready for a vibe shift.
Sitting front row at Eckhaus Latta’s ten-year anniversary show, I’m impressed by how the designers continue to progress through all the challenges our generation have been burdened with this last decade. Countless brands have come and gone – to be honest, many of them with names I can no longer recall. Addressing the design duo, editor Dan Thawley puts it perfectly: “as a bicoastal weathervane of a new generation of American anti-fashion, you’ve stood the test of time.” Inside the soon-to-be-demolished old Essex Street Market, Eckhaus Latta presented a sleek collection that made it clear they have another ten years in them. Walking to the after party through the Lower East Side in an Eckhaus Latta wolf pack of friends and collaborators going back to their college days, I felt sentimental. To celebrate their milestone, the label had published a zine – a collection of “words from our family and community” reflecting on the last ten years of work. Usually put off by flagrant use of the c-word, I contributed: “If I had to put one Eckhaus Latta piece into a time capsule for the future of humanity, it would be the poppers Mike and Zoe made with Bjarne Melgaard along with a jpeg of baby Walter Pearce sniffing them. Curious what happens with poppers when you first pop that cap after a millennium.” But on the terrace of the Standard penthouse drinking a “Yola NFT-ini” high above the city, I realized that what Eckhaus Latta has created is more of a community than a brand. And the brands that can do that are the ones who can survive perilous times.
Fatma Shaheen is a skincare goddess. Arriving to Los Angeles at 1am after my repeatedly delayed flight, I go home, pass out, and wake up at the ungodly hour of 10am PST. Matches Fashion has brought in the facial guru for their Frieze pop-up at a fab Trousdale mid-century home. Several months earlier, at a Dior dinner in the Middle East, Fatma’s name was on everyone’s lips. (The level of raving about her at that meal was surpassed in volume only by people’s responses to Thich Nhat Hanh’s recent passing.) Fatma welcomes me into her treatment room – a temporary set-up in one of the mansion’s bedrooms. Before she even begins, I’m captivated by her charm. The facial is one of the most vigorous I’ve experienced. Fatma gives me her specialty, the VIP Collagen Face Gloss, which includes peels, followed by microneedling, and finished with radiofrequency and lasers. All the puffiness from the many planes and travel of the last weeks is lymphatically drained: my skin has never glowed brighter.
I expect my face will look grotesque for my walk around the Frieze art fair in Beverly Hills the next morning, given the combo of peels, needles, and lasers. I imagine gallery directors gawking in revulsion as I survey their booths. I wake up with just a little redness and some light shedding. The fair is fine. I spot some new covetable Nora Turato paintings; my favorite reads “i am no longer interested in looking for problems that remain undetectable to me.” Same, Nora. Same.
At the Regen Projects dinner that night I’m a bit sleepy and talk mostly with Rachel Harrison. It’s our first time meeting – “post-pandemic” – after I cyberly interviewed the artist last year for my oral history of Art Club2000. Before dessert, I decamp to meet friends at the return of Prada Mode: the brand’s third iteration of the social club known to pop off during international art events, resurrected for Frieze Los Angeles. This time, its residence is a classic Hollywood strip mall – the type canonized last century by boomer LA artists such as Ed Ruscha – where Prada’s ephemeral hotspot is hosting an installation created by artist Martine Syms. It promises to be the perfect repository to replenish from the draining fair.
By the time we arrive, a long line has already formed, snaking its way through Martine’s outdoor installation and down Fairfax. I push through to the front where Danny is perched at the door. Loyal Transmissions readers may remember Danny from a chaotic Loewe Miami Basel party a couple months prior. He pulls me in against the current of pissed-off party filler in the line – who try to hold me back, grabbing my wrist and spilling my drink. (The morning after I would realize that one of these culture vultures pulled off the heart mirror of my new black croc Balenciaga Le Cagole bag.) Inside, I catch up with the “other” Jordan and Jon Rafman about the latter’s just-opened exhibit in Milan. The biggest gossip of the night: Lana Del Rey is dating Salem’s Jack Donoghue.
We depart from Prada for a house party in Beverly Hills at the top of Benedict. When we finally arrive around 2am everyone is already rolling back down the hill to a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. We follow suit. The motley crew is a mix of stout crypto whale, gallerist looking to land the whale, male model from the new Gucci campaign, Eastside “creatives,” and a sprinkling of celebrity offspring burnouts that no party in LA seems to be complete without. One of the guests accidentally spills a mountain of Bolivian marching powder onto the carpet, and with the slapstick intuition of Lucille Ball immediately starts nasal-vacuuming it out of the carpet fibers with a silver straw. Margaritas are ordered from room service but something is lost in pronunciation and a dozen Margherita pizzas are wheeled into the room. The party ends abruptly when one of the more random attendees starts putting on clothes found in the closets. The whale plays “Closing Time” on the Bluetooth speaker and throws everyone out of the bungalow as the sun rises.
After Frieze, I fly to Milan for fashion week. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from LA to Milan and, even worse, I’m not upgraded. Upon arrival I head straight for a spa built on the ruins of some old Roman baths. Inside, they have dozens of pools, saunas, and treatment rooms. My favorite is a pool in the basement with video screen walls playing Twister-style climate disaster porn while rain blasts down on you from the ceiling. I post the treatment to my Instagram stories – and I’ve never received so many reactions. Everyone from Marc Spiegler to the head designer at Courrèges is in my DMs.
That evening I’m invited by Marco Tronchetti Provera to preview Anicka Yi’s exhibition at the Pirelli HangarBicocca. After a glass of prosecco with my friends Giacomo and Saam, I enter the exhibition. Anicka’s tentacular thinking is impressive, combining her interests in science, technology, and nature. Walking around the cavernous museum, I marvel at the retrospective’s chiseled curation. I spot a favorite familiar work, Le Pain Symbiotique, which contains an ecosystem within a PVC dome packed with projectors, glycerin soap, resin, dough, pigmented powder, plastic, Mylar, beads, tempera paint, and cellophane. This is artwork that contaminates – in the best sense – making her oeuvre maybe the most relevant of any artist’s in our highly infectious times.
I landed yesterday to a lot of buzz surrounding Glenn Martens’ runway debut, and the Diesel show looks like it will live up to the hype. Uncommonly early, I study the looks backstage before the show. The collection oscillates between couture and the usual sexed up denim expected from jeans brands like Diesel. Styled by Ursina Gysi, the clothing’s wearability is a notable strength, and it maintains that high-concept thot thing Glenn and Ursina both do so well. The makeup is by the unparalleled genius Inge Grognard. My favorite looks are worn by a trio of models in colorful metallics, their bodies and faces painted to match. I can’t wait to see all the dolls running around New York and Paris like this soon.
That evening, friends from Diesel text me to come to the party Glenn is throwing at La Balera dell’Ortica to celebrate. However, with reports of only Julia Fox in attendance and a big band playing Bruno Mars, I’m not sure.
War in Europe is breaking out, as everyone is on their way to the Prada show. The cognitive dissonance is confounding. Celebrities and influencers queue for their photos in front of a giant Prada logo. Kim Kardashian, ever adept at code-switching, is front row already, looking post-Balenciaga. With a splitting hangover from too many Negronis with Nicholas Korody the night before and starving – it’s nearly 3pm and I haven’t eaten a single bite – I wait in anticipation for the show to start. Cut to black and a portal opens. Out struts Kaia, stunning in a white wife-beater and paneled skirt. After however-many compartmentalized collections together, the duality of Miuccia and Raf has blended into something startling and singular. I’m reminded of the prodigious scene in Bergman’s Persona when Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann ultimately merge. The Pradaverse is nothing if not cinematic, after all. The collection is a spectacular mélange of strong shoulders, feathers, corseting, and sheerness. Its exact references, like all great Prada seasons, are elusive. The fighter jackets, fabric rationing, and somberness today reflect a frightening future of war.
If Eckhaus Latta is a community, then Marni is a family. A kooky, tender, passionate, imaginative, full of black sheep, contemporary Tennessee Williams-esque family, but a family nonetheless. Several months ago, I met Francesco Risso in Hollywood, introduced by a dear mutual friend: the legendary Andreas Grill. I was taken by Francesco’s affability and candor. We stayed in touch. When the time came to invite me to the show, he messaged me directly. It’s hard to imagine creative directors of other major houses doing the same.
Cultivating an extended family is just one of Franchie’s many skills. Being a marvelous, poetic designer is another, and the abandoned warehouse overtaken by nature he selected for the presentation is the perfect setting for an artistic, richly tattered collection. The opening look is a royal blue knit top and pants with yellow boots, worn by 032c creative director Mike Meire and Michelle Elie’s son, the exact shades of the Ukrainian flag. The models all wear looks molded to their persona, as if they’ve spent their time in lockdown obsessively personalizing their outfits with the hope of one day returning to Marni court life. (This theory will be confirmed around 4am that night at Francesco’s casa, where Angel, Hillary, Julia, Courtney, Mavi, and I are sitting around a table crafting small clay figurines.)
We all have dinner at Trattoria Torre di Pisa. I find one of the courses unappetizing. I cut up the thin meat into pieces and dunk them in Pellegrino to wash off the mustard sauce before feeding them to my seatmate’s poodle, Dima. At the end of the meal my seatmate convinces her boyfriend to drink the mustard meat spritz. Soon everyone is standing in the street smoking and chatting. An elderly woman in the apartment above appears in a window with a bucket. She dumps the water out, soaking half the guests. I turned to my friends to find their hair ruined and their makeup running down their faces onto their clothes. Nonna shuts the window, satisfied. Ciao Milano.