Bench Fashion Week recap: from unbridled creativity of young designers Jenni Contreras and ANTONINA to the sustainable philosophy of local brand Strong Village
Bench Fashion Week is back after almost two years of being put on hold because of the pandemic. As local restrictions begin to ease, brands and designers are slowly returning to the runway. If BFW proves anything, audiences are more than excited to dress up and watch models strut down the runway up close and not through their phone screens.
As guests came in droves—a mix of fashion industry insiders, editors, celebrities and beauty queens—you can feel that nostalgic pre-pandemic excitement you can only really get at the beginning of a runway show. Then as soon as the sun set, the lights turned on and Elite Model Look winner Reins Mika stepped out with flowers in her hair wearing Human’s latest collab with designer Jenni Contreras.
The first show set the tone for the night, which evoked “youth” with an obvious Gen Z flavor. But we’re not just talking about the Y2K beat. After all, the brands and designers on the first day, namely Human x Jenni Contreras, Cotton On, ANTONINA and Strong Village, all have that spark of playfulness in their style DNA.
There was an ode to the 2000s care of Cotton On, while Human’s collab with Jenni had some 70s Summer Camp flair. Meanwhile, ANTONINA went full-on Matrix goth, followed by Russel Villafuerte’s Strong Village that zeroed in on making old denim fabrics new again.
The common thread? A simple suggestion: don’t stick to the basics. Or if you will, don’t be afraid to mix, unmatch and layer differently than what you typically see on the streets (or even on your TikTok feed). That said, we rounded up some style notes to consider based on these four collections that could refresh your everyday OOTDs for the better.
Don’t be scared to play with proportions!
At Human x Jenni Contreras, it was all about leaving your mid-section bare with an oversized cropped shirt paired with joggers or sweats worn below the belly button. This actually creates an hourglass silhouette despite wearing athleisure garb, which is perfect for our perpetual summer climate.
Wear a statement (tee)
But we’re not talking about a shirt with an actual phrase on it—but think of a statement tee that’s anchored on a cool print. These are exactly the types of shirts at HUMAN that Jenni sent down the runway that can even transform a pair of plain denims into a cool ‘fit.
“I think my designs have always exuded a colorful and fun vibe, but I’ve always liked [adding] a smidge of darkness [in] my work,” Jenni tells Wonder.
Wear all-black, but play with texture
Texture actually plays a huge role if you’re wearing one color from head-to-toe. Black can look too serious or boring if worn in a specific fabric with not much else going on. At ANTONINA, designer Nina Amoncio was able to keep things interesting with their signature quilts, and by adding some mixed media elements (like a cool leather net top and metal rings on Bermuda shorts).
This trend recurs at Human, ANTONINA and even Strong Village, and for good reason. Comfort is obviously at the heart of oversized clothing. But so is the covetable boxy silhouette it gives off when the right top drapes down your shoulders right, or if those wide-legged pants fall roomy down your calves and ankles. If you haven’t bought yourself something bigger and wider than your usual shirt and trousers, there’s no better time than now.
Wear print on print through patchwork
At Strong Village, prints and textures come together to create a dynamic collection that’s built on pieces that look and feel comfy, lived in, but nothing less than interesting. As far as designer Russel Villafuerte is concerned, you should go out of your comfort zone and wear multiple prints and fabrics all in one go.
Denim on denim on denim is definitely still a thing
Denim on denim is here to stay, and Strong Village proves this by sending down denim jackets and blazers over chambray tops and jeans down the runway. Though the different denim washes and patchwork detailing could look quite busy, the overall blue tone pulls the look together. This is a great way of wearing one fabric without looking basic.
Catch more of our Bench Fashion Week 2022 coverage here on Wonder.
Words Maura Rodriguez
Art Macky Arquilla