The Future, Females, and Fashion: What's Next?
Sarah Cousins on fashion's burgeoning role as a medium for who we are and where we're going.
I have never felt at home in an art gallery. It has always felt like the place where people go to perform the role of the “informed and inspired” New Yorker. Often, I don’t really know what I’m looking at or what I’m supposed to feel — so when I was invited to see AB[Screenwear] displayed in a gallery near my house, I was honestly a little nervous. That changed the moment I stepped inside this tiny 1920’s refuge in Tribeca to meet AB[Screenwear] Designer Olya Petrova Jackson.
The first thing you need to know about this collection is that the designer and visionary behind it, Olya, is one of the warmest and most soothing people I have ever met. She greeted me in this amazing layered black look from her line — part mesh, part knit. She also looks exactly like what you'd imagine a Russian-born New Yorker working in tech and fashion would look like, if you’re the kind of person who visualizes things like that.
I came in for my appointment that evening and was received by Olya herself, which made me feel special. She handed me a small, air-sealed clear envelope (I took a picture, below) with my name printed on it, containing a single white glove and a mesh dress/base layer to wear over myself when putting on the clothes. However, instead of trying on the collection, we sat on a circular plush white carpet, surrounded by the collection and the gallery owners tiny french bulldog, and just talked.
AB[Screenwear] centres around the ideas of internal and external expression, the image we all project onto ourselves and to the world, vulnerability and sensitivity. Olya is creating in a space far ahead of our time; each of the reflective, oil-slick pieces are meant to represent a fabricated screen technology which is still a few years out in production. Regardless, it’s beautiful and wearable right now, and I love what it stands for.
When looking at her website and promotional materials (which you should do, because she’s a gifted graphic visionary), I was a little confused about the need for the screen. I get that it’s very 2020, but that - the look of something futuristic - couldn’t be all there was to it. I’m all about trying out a new trend, but walking around like my own Samsung seemed a little much. Olya responded with a knowing smile and a simple quip.
“You are now the medium.”
Oh. Yeah. I am. And so are you.
With all of this conversation going on about authenticity (or lack there of), how we project ourselves and our image into the world and what we’re really trying to accomplish on social media, AB[Screenwear] could not be more aptly timed. It’s like this light, airy red-wine blend of both who you are to yourself and who you want to be to the world. AB[Screenwear] democratizes self expression and the digital landscape by taking it into the physical world. You’re your own gallerist and everyone you bump into on the street is a patron.
There are plenty of articles online that far better explain the periodic table-like levels of her collection, her concept of “screen positivity” and her extensive research on developing a screen-like fabric with the ability to produce images. You should read them. But what I can tell you is that you need to see this collection, spend time in the space, and be around Olya. She’s the exact kind of person who should be tackling a project that pushes the boundaries on how we express our inner most moods and ideas to the rest of the world.
Additional Images, c/o Jason Lasswell.