If someone calls you “fundipendulous,” it likely means you’re working up a sweat somewhere, having a ball and looking f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s. And probably wearing VPL.
It’s also something we’ve been seeking for a long time: a single word to describe the New York brand and its radical, utterly unparalleled approach to active underwear.
It’s been a year since Victoria Bartlett‘s trend-setting label pivoted away from its experiments in high-fashion womenswear and funky undies and plunged headlong into the realm of fashion-forward performance gear. That move triggered a creative renaissance for the much-loved brand which, as the images below show, is brimming with new ideas.
“Fundipendulous” is also the title of a new 12-minute film released by VPL last week to coincide with its in-store Fashion Week presentation. Shot in a quarry, a barn and under a bridge in upstate New York, the film (below) features limber aerialists and acrobats giving their SS15 VPL gear a poetic workout in some dramatic (and dangerous) settings.
VPL took its cameras outdoors as way of emphasizing the point that this is a new fashion hybrid that needs to be appreciated in a new context, with a new visual language, outside of a gym and away from the urban streetscapes where VPL products are usually found.
VPL calls its new stylistic vision “Fashion Active” — a phrase that doesn’t properly indicate how revolutionary this is, nor how far it is ahead of competitors in the burgeoning activewear market.
Absolutely everything gets a rethink in the company’s vivid spring collection: waistbands, bra bands and straps, shoulder pads, pockets, even zippers. There are loose-fitting sweats layered over snug tights, tops and unitards, cover-ups and jackets and some wicked accessories like open kneepads, heel-less dance socks, off-kilter visors and finger-tape bands. All impossibly chic and perfectly functional at the same time.
Stylistically, it’s a riot of vivid color-blocking and overlapping patches and lines reminiscent of abstract painter Piet Mondrian or masking-tape street art. You can still see evidence of VPL‘s long-time signature look — wide elastic bra straps — but even that look, once so novel, has been eclipsed by the brand’s reboot.
What makes it so promising is VPL‘s commitment to both the performance qualities of its garments as well as its fashion appeal. No sense in being the best-looking thing in the gym if your outfit doesn’t stand up to your workout, right? But Bartlett’s vision extends beyond the locker room: she’s aiming to create a wardrobe that travels easily from spin class to city streets, a point that was driven home when she put models in platform wedges for the athletic photoshoot for VPL‘s Pre-Fall 2014 collection (below).
It’s no insult to other brands (and there’s an amazing amount of creativity in this fashion category these days) to say that VPL has become the Cirque du Soleil of the sportswear world: a brand so advanced in its vision and execution that it’s almost meaningless to think of it in terms of what came before this.
As for “fundipendulous”, it’s probably too much of a tongue-twister to go viral or survive beyond next season. But that’s okay: VPL doesn’t need a made-up word to help it stand out in a crowd.
You can check out the evolution of VPL‘s high-concept activewear by comparing its current Pre-Fall 2014 line (below) with the next collection for Spring-Summer 2015.