Spring delivered a breakthrough collection for A-Cold-Wall’s Samuel Ross, in ways both personal (Ross was feeling good after being a finalist in this year’s LVMH prize) and physical: His runway show concluded with a Styrofoam structure being punched to fragments by a horde of clay-dyed and rag-wrapped zombie-chimeras (or something of that ilk). A bit of that wrecked detritus landed on Virgil Abloh (whom Ross once worked for) in the front row; all guests were provided with clear protective glasses, earbuds, and face masks to safeguard against the “experience.” And from that ruined crypt/incubator came a wet, naked man, crawling not in blood, but a “primary-red liquid used to represent rebirth,” said Ross. “This protagonist in red represents the clarity in mind and thinking that has emerged.”
If that sounds the opposite of clarified, it’s because it was. Ross is clearly very intelligent, and goes deep into mining the cerebral headspace between architecture, socio-spatial relationships, and fashion’s place in this matrix, but there’s a fine line between flexing one’s brainpower effectively and overintellectualization. Though his product output has been significantly upgraded, the ultimate impression left today was that Spring felt . . . honestly, too complicated. A cleaner message, and simpler clothes (there were too many deconstructed and padded-up details, plus odd PVC shirting), might be the key in propelling him to greater recognition and acclaim. That’s partially how Abloh, also frequently architecture-inspired, has attained his level of success; the concept is clearer and more palatable. Ross’s show notes read: “[The collection] marks a new direction and accelerated level of production for A-Cold-Wall,” signifying that he is looking to build the business. Highbrow is fine, but it’s better, in a salable sense, when imbued with high digestibility. That’s not to say that A-Cold-Wall’s Spring outing didn’t have strong highlights. There were bolts and beams of commercial clout and, in fact, a bit more refinement than we’ve seen from Ross in the past, like with a silvery blue-black trench coat; a convincing, asymmetrical two-tone puffa; and a slouchy top coat in heather gray with strips of navy and yellow. The best-in-show pieces may have ultimately been the hard-sided briefcases and/or laptop cases. These calibrated Ross’s touch points: construction, social rhythms, and the threads between the two, in the most absorbable and desirable ways possible.