NEW YORK, United States — “We couldn’t have done this anywhere but here,” Laura Kim said backstage before Monse’s spring show. "This,” being the near-instant success she and co-founder Fernando Garcia experienced when they started up just a few years back. "Here," being the United States and more specifically, New York, a town from which many of their peers have been distancing themselves, showing their collections in Paris instead.
It’s a strange time to be “rah rah” for America, and yet several designers — many of whom, like Kim and Garcia, are immigrants — have expressed an urge this week to not only defend, but celebrate their chosen province. It’s all happening just as President Trump ends the DACA program, which offered illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors the opportunity to apply for a work permit.
For Kim and Garcia, who will present another collection as co-creative directors of Oscar de la Renta on Monday, that urge blossomed into a spangly salute — rendered quite literally in red, white and blue — with streamers of sequins, starry silk blouses, deconstructed varsity jackets and collegiate cardigans sent out onto a customised basketball court in a fancy apartment building in midtown. The only thing that was missing were the sparklers.
Those glittering pieces had the Monse snap and crackle, the click-bait appeal that keeps shoppers hitting the buy button. And Garcia and Kim have made a concerted effort to evolve beyond the idea that first put them on the map — turning the collared shirt on its head — by keeping it in the mix but developing other soon-to-be-signatures. For instance, their experimentation with sequins — this season, they called it a “decaying” effect —gives those pieces a beautiful edge.
However, like many young designers still finding their footing, Kim and Garcia often rely too heavily on what’s in the ether. This season, that tendency muted their own great ideas. We don’t need elongated sleeves and over-extended shoulder shapes from these two, we have Demna, and plenty of other lesser-thans, for that. The over-styling, especially in the first two-thirds of the show, took away from the sexy, confident work they're honing.