Elevating basics into fashion forward garments is no longer a strange thing for John Elliott. For the showing of his 9th collection, I had the chance of going back stage to watch it all happen from a different perspective - the angle of what really goes down, behind the scenes prior to the show.
I clocked in at 9:30am while the models were also arriving, two hours prior to John’s third runway show. Pusha T was already looking through the collection with John and Eugene Tong, the man who styled the entire show. Meanwhile, John goes over the collection entirely with Pusha and the models were starting to get their hair and make-up done.
Season 9, titled “Watching Waters,” is more of an epiphany for John, as he explains that the visionary inspiration came as a reflection after market week last season, while all the success and noise around him was slowly become a little overwhelming. The thought of luxury and success came to him, “What is luxury, and the definition at the end of the day? – it’s watching waters on a yacht” while making a reference to himself watching Jigga man’s Big Pimpin video in his senior years in high school. John also said that he didn’t want to create garments strictly for luxury - that's too obvious - but actual luxurious things that regular guys can wear, functional luxury that is understandable but still showing depth.
Just about an hour after I checked in backstage, more action was starting to pop off - the rundown of the walks on the run way (which was quite intense), and Eugene finalizing the details and footwear selection for outfits while shooting each look as they were completed. Yes, there were a lot going on and by this time, the energy was definitely climbing up, tense yet natural.
While it was full throttle in the back with models, hair, and make up artists running around and plenty of media and press squads in the back getting the inside scoop, I decided to go up front to check out the set up for the stage. This year, in collaboration with Nate Brown’s creative studio Institute, John worked with Boiler Room and producer/recording artist Lee Bannon to produce a live soundtrack and stream. As the seating arrangements were being placed, plastic films from the mirrored walkway for the models were just being pulled away, with Lee testing out the soundtrack and speakers in the back.
The primary colors of blue and green weren’t the only standouts from this collection. Mineral wash inspired from the mid 90’s in pink, sand, olive and blue were also introduced for this season, right next to the usual black, white, and gray tones.
With attention to detail, fabrics and techniques were chosen and used in relation to the theme - needle punch as a technique with embroidery through sweaters, hoodies, and jackets was used. This was something they discovered in Japan, a craft very similar to laser perforation but more precise in execution, as each of the holes were done by hand. John also went out and embroidered the emblems of 60 yacht clubs from around the world in one of the jackets this season, to speak out on his interpretation and intention to its full extent.
As I made my way up front to the show, familiar faces such as Poggy from United Arrows, Virgil Abloh of Off-White, Nick Wooster, Tommy Ton and the ex-Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, were all popping out in the front rows seats across from me.
It was quite unreal to watch everything unfold as each model walked down the runway with the complete look. Big ups to John and Nobu for their dedication and vision to come up with what I think is their strongest collection by far. Thanks to Mike and Janet for their hospitality for inviting me backstage. After the show was finished, the buzz was now for reals in the back, John being surrounded by press coverage, friends, family, celebrities and the whole nine yards.
Clearly, with his charismatic laughs and the energy in the room - John Elliott is making waves.