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Eckhaus Latta’s Bodies of Work

Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta’s ideas — especially their visual meditation on the ever-morphing shape of the body — are rich enough to resonate far beyond their community.
By
  • Lauren Sherman

NEW YORK, United States — It's always interesting to wonder what a fashion show would feel like transported to another city; whether it would pass muster beyond its hometown critics and fans. A community of artists and thinkers has condensed around designers Zoe Latta and Mike Eckhaus in the States, both in Los Angeles (where Latta is based) and New York (where Eckhaus lives and where the collection is shown). But their ideas — especially their visual meditation on the ever-morphing shape of the body — are now rich enough to resonate far beyond their inner circle.

And because of that, the conversation around Eckhaus Latta is changing. The commerciality of their sophisticated, near-universally flattering denim, with "L" shaped back pockets that elevate the traditional painter jean, is undeniable. But there was sophistication across their latest collection. Consider this season's great-looking English saddle-coloured suiting, with its broad-shouldered — but not absurdly oversized — blazer and draped wrap skirt, or the patchwork leather jeans in several shades of cream, paired with a matching silk jacquard floral blouse. Sleek, if not slick.

While the intentional naiveté might be dissipating from their work, Latta and Eckhaus are not working with coat-hanger models, and they're not aiming to redefine or transform the characters they’re dressing by covering up differences in body type, which means the clothes don’t always fit perfectly: some things may ride up a bit in the front, or gap in the back. This happens when you don’t cast uniformly bodied models. However, the results are far from a turn off. Instead, the clothes look pliable and almost carnal: instead of creating a structure around a body, these clingy knits and sculpted cocoon coats mold to the body’s shape. Considering the way Latta and Eckhaus explain how they design — they do individual drawings and then “serve as each others consultants,” Latta explains — you can almost see their iterative process in the clothes.

What comes next for Eckhaus Latta, which is currently looking for a business partner, will very much depend on the designers’ commitment to nurturing their creative partnership. Now that this no longer feels like an extended master’s thesis, it could go a lot of different ways, which is thrilling to think about.

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