Remember yesterday when Lacoste tried to make its collection look urban? This morning, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne showed Felipe how urban is done with their Public School spring/summer 2015 collection shown at Milk Studios. If you’ve not heard of the designing duo before, it’s probably because you’ve been caught in the Midwest and missed all the excitement the two have caused at CFDA the past couple of years. From Indianapolis, I suppose it’s easy to miss some of the newcomers if one isn’t keeping a sharp eye out at all times. Your excuse has just been eliminated, though. You want to pay attention.

Set to a live soundtrack from artist Twin Shadow, the Public School collection for this season focused heavily on geometric blocked black and white patterns and layers. Looks leave shirt tails long and untucked, protruding out from under sport coats and jackets. Shorts are worn with black dress socks and shoes (your grandfather’s look is finally  in style!). Women’s looks involve a lot of masculine tailoring, shoulder pads, and slightly oversized coats, but still maintain some feminine touches such as a bit of ruffle at the hem of skirts and dresses. Men’s looks are loose (though not baggy), well put together and tightly finished. Nothing is cut off and pieces work together to form a complete look. Nothing about these ensembles appears haphazard.

A touch of blue is mixed in with the black and white about half-way through the collection.  Especially exciting is a blue/black print on white that appears in a few of the women’s pieces. Abstract with motion, the print adds a sense of sophistication while the style leans a little more toward traditional silhouettes. Some grey falls in toward the end of the presentation, but it blends so seamlessly with the black and white as to hardly be noticeable..

While the brand plays well to its urban audience, there is a lot here that is likely to appeal on a much broader basis as well. Tailoring is extremely well done and attention to detail is likely to surprise some, especially with the men’s wear. While many of the ensembles are presented with multiple layers, deconstruct them a bit and one might mistake the pieces for something from Rag & Bone. The final look, a two piece  dress with sloped crop top under a black men’s dress overcoat, isn’t all that different from some of the silhouettes we saw from Monique Lhuillier on Friday.

What has grabbed a great deal of attention is the label’s commitment to producing their clothes in New York. In an age where the mega retailers switch third-world production facilities for less than two cents difference per piece, it’s nice to see an emerging brand solidly behind domestic production of their clothes. Yes, that means higher prices, but they’re still cheaper than thousands of lives lost in sweatshop incidents.

One curious element, in addition to the black socks with shorts, is the military-styled hat seen with several of the ensembles. Members of the United States Marine Corp have a name for this style of cover; it’s not one I dare use in a family friendly atmosphere. Those of you who are good at word games will want to know that it has four letters and starts with C. Look very carefully at the cover from the top. Notice its shape. Now, would you want one of those on your  head if you weren’t ordered to do so? I didn’t think so.

Public School is a brand the savvy have known for a couple of years and seems to be well poised to make something close to a mainstream breakout. Even Vogue’s Anna Wintour was in attendance this morning. One just doesn’t get much more validation than that.

Photo credit: Monica Fuedi

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