Genuine emotion is a rare performer on today’s runways. Yet in Public School’s return to the New York Fashion Week schedule, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne struck a cord of genuine emotion in a collection of smart, interesting fashion shown within the context of a broader message.
Well before the presidential election, the two established themselves as politically minded designers eager to use the runway as a platform for their views along with their clothes. Here, their inspiration, or perhaps, more accurately, their creative motivation, was a consideration of borders. “We just started talking about these man-made constructs to keep people from each other, at the same time envisioning this world where if you’re a human being, you are a citizen of the world,” Chow said.
He and Osborne introduced the motif with more lyricism than anger via a gentle soundtrack by frequent Public School collaborator Twin Shadow. The piece reworked the great Woody Guthrie opus, a once-and-present anthem of inclusion. Throughout the show, the same lyrics played over and over, with a coach-director type often interrupting to instruct that he start over. Along the way, we never hear the words, “this land was made for you and me.”