Monday, September 25, 2023
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NIHL Spring 2024 Menswear

Neil Grotzinger contains multitudes. “The concepts I’ve come up with for my brand over the past few years revolve around a dichotomy or dualism,” said the designer. “There’s always a euphemism to how I understand the masculine and feminine.” But this time around, Grotzinger moved away from mere parallels and contradictions, focusing instead on multidimensionality.

The designer has made much of their work a study on queerness and the nuances of queer identity, often contextualized within the confinements of the binary: masc or femme, male or female, gay or straight. But at its essence, the driving force behind Grotzinger’s study of queerness is that to be queer—and not gay but queer—is to be neither, to exist in a liminal space plagued by the parallels and contradictions they often study. This collection embraced that wholly.

Grtozinger explained that the lineup began with another study of opposites: The “pseudo Upper East Side sophistication and luxury” seen in “prim Park Avenue women” and “the type of person this same woman might consider taboo or the hedonistic end of queer culture.” But rather than a contrast, Grotzinger said their interpretation of this prissiness was “more of a fascination.” This is where the collection found its footing, as the designer did away with the preoccupation of blending one too many things and instead leaned into how much disparate information they could include in one single object.

The UES aesthetic was utilized almost as a prosthetic, applied by way of strappy sandals, creases on tailored trousers, and matchy sets. There was an ounce of camp here that gave the collection a good dose of humor, best exemplified by pieces like a long jacket cut with a double collar consisting of a suit lapel with a shirt neckband attached to it, or a hand-beaded tank top that cleverly changed in tone with the use of orange thread under the clear beads. “It’s pseudo referential to doing poppers, when the skin heats up and the temperature in your torso rises to your head,” said Grotzinger.

Most compelling were the prints, inspired by “walking home at 4 a.m. after a night out.” The layering of images the designer took on their nights out juxtaposed with clips of someone’s torso or Google Images search screenshots and tiny heart stickers encompassed the craze and overstimulation of leaving a good party. Those prints were cut into sexy halter tops and slips, the kind Carrie Bradshaw wore early on in Sex and the City, but styled more in the vein of Samantha Jones, a reference for the collection. One wondered if the queer character Grotiznger was placing under the lens of his Upper East Side archetype was none other than the designer themself.



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