There’s a whole lot of change happening at VPL, which is surprising given that the New York brand has such a distinctive signature it could coast on its catalogue styles for years to come.
Instead, designer Victoria Bartlett continues to explore new frontiers like someone seeking the perfect fusion of art and fashion. It’s as though she’s not content with her legacy as the person who more or less invented the lingerie-as-outerwear look and is aiming for greater glory — like redefining how casual womenswear is meant to work.
Here’s an example, from VPL’s pre-fall 2013 collection: a defiant inner-outerwear look that almost dares women to express that inner bravery we keep hearing about. It’s smart, comfortable, contemporary and can be worn a dozen different ways.
Meanwhile, the Spring 2013 collection from VPL illustrates how rapidly, and how deliberately, the brand is evolving. It’s a big collection of RTW and underwear pieces, all meant to work together.
Lingerie is still at the heart of VPL’s DNA, but it’s morphed into an unimaginable variety of fashionable streetwear pieces that sometimes look like athletic wear, cosy sleepwear, and semi-formal evening wear all rolled into one. Those familiar color-blocked juxtapositions and broad straps are everywhere, but it’s getting hard to tell where the “inner” ends and the “outer” begins in Bartlett’s utilitarian vision.
But the BIG news in the current VPL season isn’t so much its fashion pieces as what goes with them. As befits any legitimate lifestyle brand, VPL has been expanding its accessories line in recent years and this season it’s got a couple of can’t-miss items that you’ll be seeing everywhere.
VPL teamed up with the trendy (and expensive) Brooklyn handbag label Fleabags to create two original pieces (above) to match its spring fashion line. The first is the Envelope Clutch, a leather and canvas piece with magnetic snaps and that bold elastic wrist strap. A bit pricey at $315, but where else are you going to keep your iPad at your next gallery opening or Lincoln Center event?
For bigger excursions — like a trip to the beach, or laundry day — VPL and Fleabags offer a big canvas and leather backpack that’s roomy enough for your yoga or gym gear … and just about everything else. It’s offered in several color combinations for $285, and will be available on March 1.
It’s not the first time that VPL has sought out collaborators that share both its fashion and eco-conscious values, and which allow the company to create a top-to-toe urban aesthetic. They’ve added distinctive jewelry from both Orly Genger and Brooklyn’s Kria, high-fashion footwear from LD Tuttle, and even some Obsessive Compulsive nail polish that matches VPL’s distinctive earthy palette.
In spite of all this, we’re sorry to report that the single coolest accessory to hit the New York runway in the past year is NOT part of VPL’s new season.
I’m talking about the elastic bungee-strap headbands in the images below, and which first appeared last fall on the models in VPL’s fashion week show. The futuristic helmets add a kind of crash-test-dummy vibe to VPL’s overall look but, alas, they were made just for the show and not intended for the market. (VPL says they will provide quotes for custom orders if anyone is interested.)
Here are some more looks from VPL’s spring collection. Look closely and you’ll spot the undergarments in each of these looks, though it’s often well hidden!