The Reigning King of Mash-Ups Takes on 1940’s Harlem for Spring 2023
Byron Lars makes a long-awaited return to New York Fashion Week showcasing IN EARNEST, a brand he founded with business partner Sheila Gray in 2020. The studio is based in Harlem while IN EARNEST’s Spring 2023 collection is based ON Harlem, taking cues from its 1940s brand of “Chic With Hot Sauce” as the designer puts it.
“At the end of the day, it’s about evoking the joy of dressing up exemplified in Harlem of that period, since I think we are most definitely ready if not longing for that level of expressiveness again in the way we present ourselves with clothes,” says Bryon Lars.
Photos: Keith Major
The collection features the brand’s signature “twisted American classics” and opened with a fitted “Boob” button-down shirt paired with oversized palazzo jeans. As expected from the king of mash-ups, there were many other unexpected looks from the cargo culottes and lace motorcycle jacket to a red striped bustier top with floral harem pants. The designer also played with contrasting hard and soft elements, showcasing Black vegan leather ensembles as well as cocktail dresses of chiffon, lace, and florals. One defining element of this season’s collection is the dramatic display of the feminine form with an hourglass shirtdress, bustier detailing, puff sleeves, and peplums.
For pattern, the collection relied on a full mix of bold florals, bizarre prints, abstracted sequins, and stripes. Transparency was also a key element with lots of sheer paneling and a fully sheer qipao-style dress. The overall mood was a romantic nod to the styles of the 1940’s when American fashion was both traditionally feminine and utilitarian inspired.
In attendance at the show was fashion legend Teri Agins, actress Alysia Reiner, singer Annabel Oreste, and artist Bradley Theodore. And legendary model Coco Mitchell walked the show to great audience fanfare.
The designer also abandoned the traditional runway show and presented the Spring 2023 collection as part of a multi-artist event celebrating fashion, dance, and theater.
“With IN EARNEST, we need to look at things differently, through a different lens than what we’ve done in the past. It is reflected in the design, in the business, and in how we want to present our concepts to the public. We are so inspired by the multi-disciplinary art forms and wanted to have fashion represented among artists of all kinds,” says Sheila Gray.
The name IN EARNEST means “occurring to a greater extent or more intensely than before” so it’s no surprise that every aspect of the brand from the fabric to the styling, and even the show concept is a step in a new and different direction.