Buzzy Design House Public School Proves Dressing Well Is No Crime

Fashion behind bars. 

We’ve heard of the fashion police, but super-cool design duo Public School took it to the next level. Showing at this year’s first-ever New York Fashion Week: Men’s, the label’s latest collection was presented with a crime and punishment theme. Attendees walked into the room to find models standing around in front of those lined backdrops out of “Law & Order,” as if waiting to be identified as the perpetrators of some mysterious crime. “We wanted to shake it up” said Dao-Yi Chow, one half of the Public School team. “We didn’t want to do a regular fashion show,” he added, explaining that the goal was to “showcase this Public School uniform idea in a different way.” That uniform was colored in the brand’s typical palette of navy, black and white, featuring everything from asymmetrical blazers to bombers, grid-printed short-sleeve button downs and joggers, all layered atop one another.

And yes, the political resonance was intentional.

“We set it against this backdrop of a police lineup, where you normally would see a certain group of people who have been marginalized or contextualized,” he continued. “We wanted to pull that out and dress everyone the same even though we had notable celebrities in the line up. We didn’t feature them—everyone was all the same.”

Those celebrities included street style star and fashion brand collaborator Nick Wooster as well as Waris Ahluwalia and Luka Sabbat. Even some of the celebrities milling around the show, like Gabrielle Union and her husband Dwayne Wade, took their turns in the lineup.

“We just wanted to say no one is better or worse than the person standing next to them”

But the event was only the first of three for the buzzy brand, which also launched a collaboration with Oliver Peoples later that evening. The eyewear collaboration, a chunky frame done in three different colorways, is available online now. An after-party at the Gilded Lilly carried on well into the night, attended by Zoe Kravitz, NYFW:M ambassador Victor Cruz, Theophilus London and Twin Shadows. There, Dao pulled double duty as a DJ, working the decks with his band-mate Ibe of The Extortionists.

In all, it was a great kick-off to men’s fashion week, and despite the criminal justice theme, there wasn’t an orange jumpsuit spotted all night. 

Photos by Victor VIrgile / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images