If you ever wore a gold nametag pendant in the late nineties or early aughts a la Carrie or JLo, then you’ll get Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk’s SS20 collection for Area. A must-see at New York Fashion Week, and known for their downtown glamour, a particular type of excess clearly underpinned by grit, Area appeals to the urban princess of yesteryear. The city-dwelling millennial who listened to gangster rap, and on certain days, still does.
The mood was set from the get-go, with the first model emerging in a simple, soft white trouser suit amped up to Area standards by a head-to-toe covering of gold nameplate chains – which brought the grit. This adornment featured across the collection, to varying degrees of abundance, and while providing a talking point in itself, the fact that the names were translated into a variety of languages – from Hebrew to Russian - spoke to the core metropolitan values of the brand. “We’re trying to connect people,” Panszczyk said backstage. “It’s really about appreciating each other’s beauty.”
At the more extreme end of the spectrum, metal-cage dresses and shimmering trellis-like creations that snaked around models’ bodies provided an element of theater. Whether you subscribe to Area’s school of dressing or not, the fantasy element the brand espouses is something that many of us can probably get on board with. After all, it’s those pieces that at once push us out of our comfort zone yet are rooted in something familiar that deeply engage our emotions.
And triggering emotions are what the duo is striving for, which wasn’t lost on anyone who went to a uniformed school and can appreciate the nostalgic power of that Catholic-girl look made luxurious and elegant in finer materials. But, it’s also about the rocks. Speaking to Vogue.com, Fogg has said: “For something to sell at full price retail - which is the goal - you have to be drawn to it on an emotional level. These full crystal gown pieces, some of which are thousands and thousands of dollars, we sell these because people are immediately drawn to them on an emotional level and it’s something new and exciting that they can’t get anywhere else. I think it’s been important for us to realize that commercial doesn’t mean dumbing anything down. In fact, it means raising it up to the next level.”
Which brings us back to grit, which is what makes Area special. Grittier elements elevated speak to us because anyone who’s ever worked hard on anything knows that toughness, tenacity and perseverance are required to achieve something great. It’s a hard knock life, and you need a heart amount of grit to get to jewel-dripping glamour.