Telfar 2019 Runway Show
For our FW2019 collection entitled COUNTRY, a collaboration with break-through playwright Jeremy O Harris, is an emotionally charged presentation which combines theatre, music and fashion with a host of artists and performers in our continuing search for a collective form of culture
This season we start with the word COUNTRY: a word against itself. its etymology, Contra-Terra — against the land. Two meanings negating each other. Like a flag in negative space. Country as nation vs country as land — American history as the ultimate play of the one against the other — in which a narrative of natural rights sets the stage for a project of subjugation.
For those who land-ed here as objects, treated as a part of nature, we are all a little bit Country. The sound we make is Country Music.
Telfar Fall 2019 Runway Show
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An enormous American flag, from which the center has been removed, frames our stage at Irving Plaza. Our show opens with the sounds artist/DJ Ashland Mines (TOTAL FREEDOM) and a live performance by blues musician Robert Randolph on the pedal guitar, an instrument whose genesis is in the black pentecostal church, where Robert played in his father’s ministry.
A blinding light bleeds through a slash in our downstage curtain. Jeremy O Harris emerges — beginning his four part monolog on the Telfar Countrymxn: conceived as a series of letters from the same sender — to very different recipients.
Delivering his performance in a spotlight on the edge of a stage before 1,000 people, Jeremy suddenly takes a step forward — his body intercepted by a group of dancers lead by artist/choreographer Xavier Cha — and floated to the floor. Stationed in the center of the venue under Xavier’s direction, a group of 30 of Telfar’s closest friends and supporters work to open a path in the crowded venue, organically opening the runway portion of our presentation.
Models emerge from the glowing opening one by one, floated to the ground by Xavier’s dancers until the R&B vocalist Oyinda enters the stage performing an original song with Robert and Ashland. Singing from the edge of the stage, she turns, and lets herself fall into the audience.
In a combination of crowd-surfing and a trust-fall, Xavier’s troupe float her body deeper into the venue as she continues to perform from her back. There to receive her are Telfar’s community who have been rehearsing the action prior to the show — here supporting his work in the most literal possible way — and passing its body to the wider public.
Three more looks are received by Telfar’s core Supporters and carried through the venue before the rapper Butch Dawson closes the show, performing an original verse on the hands of the audience.
Presentation ends with a set by the black rock band Ho99o9, followed by actor/skater and rapper Na-Kel and a DJ set by TOTAL FREEDOM — seamlessly transitioning the evening from runway to afterparty in one venue.
Lately the word community has replaced urban as the preferred euphemism for black culture. We are not sure what it means really — if it’s just a kind of static that forms when a dearth of money touches a glut of relevance?
In any case we wouldn’t be here at all without the people who have supported us, with their time, with their work, with their minds, with their love — for love.
In collaboration with the artists and choreographer Xavier Cha, this season we have drawn on this community to support our collection in the most literal way possible — forming a human runway for our finale.
An earthy palette of Drab, Brown, Tan and Navy corduroy form the core of the TELFAR Countrymen, in lined jackets and blazers with detachable sleeves and high-waisted slacks in straight or flared legs.
Our modular denim in gray and classic blue, swaps out its pattern pieces to find a flair, a knit, skin or a vegan leather leg reminiscent of a chap.
Leather reappears in brown and black blazers and jackets, and finds its way into the body of down stuffed coats with a terry hooded tops.
Underneath, a built-in scarf lends an Abolitionist flair to a simple cotton long sleeve and embroidered chains with shredded paper fibers, run the lengths of black, oxblood, sky and canary T shirts and turtlenecks — continuing beyond the garment’s end in an Tzitzit fringe.
Images of Black cowboys are stamped by a vintage graphic language applied like a cattle brand. Graphics are cut off, misplaced and reassembled into jersey dress shirts; simple T’s, scarves and hoodies — interrupted by stripes and blocks of knit, denim, thermal, leather.
A thick, house-milled thermal, runs throughout; in our basics as thumbhole thermals and long johns, mock-necked unisex halter tops, hooded jumpers and signature asymmetrical tank tops. It slashes stripes into graphic shirts and finds its way into our denim as the legs to a pair of daisy dukes, and the upper quarter of a pair of corduroy slacks, tailored in a perpetual sag.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
TELFAR FW2019 “COUNTRY” is presented in celebration of Black Future(s) Month, an initiative of Black Lives Matter — a partnership we are commemorating with a collaborative T Shirt available for purchase in their shop. Celebrated annually in the month of February and in conjunction with Black History Month, Black Lives Matter Arts+Culture X Black Futures Month challenges us to envision and construct a world where Black people are liberated, a world where we are free. Black Lives Matter Arts+Culture X Black Futures Month will change the way we see the world and we see ourselves — free from white supremacy and oppression.
FW 2019 is made possible and marks the beginning of TELFAR’s partnership with the original Italian streetwear legends SLAM JAM (Stussy/Nappa by Martine Rose, etc) — deepening their commitment to the culture behind the commerce of streetwear. The collection will be available for press to see at the Slam Jam showroom which has been art directed by TELFAR, occupying the iconic First National Bank building on the corner of Canal and Broadway with a two story installation in collaboration with Kaleidoscope Magazine, featuring a performance by Onyx Collective and an active studio for the artist Travis Fish.
For the second season TELFAR partners with Budweiser — the perfect pairing for our claim on the heart of Americana. This season we integrate their iconic imagery into cowboy boots, belt buckles and more — and integrate the dramatic video of our performance into a large scale project planned for 2019.
TELFAR and White Castle are almost synonymous at this point — having designed the uniforms for the classic American fast food chain for the past three years, no TELFAR party is complete without White Castle sliders on hand. This year we continue the partnership and our work together for the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Fund — which pays bail for minors held pre-trial on Rikers Island with the next iteration of our sold-out LEFRAK streetwear capsule slated for release in White Castle locations nationwide this fall.
Become a queer, Liberian-American eighteen year old, travel back to 2004 and establish a 100% unisex fashion line in New York City. Try to make clothes that do not exist on the market — just as you don’t exist in the world. Try to make pure garments without the ornament of gender, race, class; high and low; male or female. Don’t have any money. Find your inspiration from not just the best clothes but the most clothes: the material reality of clothes, as a flow of communication, as a form of pollution; be as inspired by Old Navy as Helmut Lang. Persist for a decade despite being ignored. If the road is closed to you — cut a new one. If you can’t get into stores, get into museums. Design the uniforms for 10,000 employees of White Castle. Win the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. Keep your family close, ignore the bullsh*t. Good luck — lot’s of love.