Public School opens its doors to women

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — It's official — Public School is for girls, too.

The fashion line, that is.

Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, whose catchily named, heavily street-influenced menswear brand has had a meteoric rise the last few years, stepped wholeheartedly into womenswear Sunday with a spring 2015 collection divided equally between the genders.

"It was actually even a little more women's than men's, which is obviously different for us," Osborne noted with a smile after the show.

The designers, who capped off a whirlwind few years by winning, in June, the Council of Fashion Designers of America menswear award over more established colleagues, noted that expanding into women's clothes had opened up an exciting new range of ideas.

"I think we have a wonderful opportunity to do something with our womenswear collection," Chow said. "Playing with shapes and colors — you know, those things that sort of make womenswear fun to do."

An enthusiastic crowd — including influential Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who has championed the duo — packed into the downtown studio space where Sunday's show was held. Attendees were instructed to push away the confetti strips that covered the benches and the floor (luckily, models were not wearing stilettos, which might have caused some runway mishaps.) Live music by George Lewis, known as Twin Shadow, accompanied the show.

The designers, known for producing their clothes almost exclusively in New York, were making their first foray into prints; until now their collections had been almost exclusively in black, and in boxy, almost futuristic shapes.

The color palette Sunday included black of course, but also white and a bold electric blue. Shapes went from large and boxy, as in oversized jackets, shirts and vests, often paired with loose-falling shorts, to sleek, as in a striking black sleeveless dress with side cutout detail, worn over an electric blue shirt dress that peeked out underneath.

Also striking: A long-sleeved women's pullover sweater with "open sleeves," leaving bare arms hanging freely in front, with the sweater sleeves almost like a train, and a silky electric blue blouse that fell almost to the knee.

Shirt tails hung out defiantly. Hats were unisex; in a somewhat odd touch, both men and women wore what resembled military caps.

"We had a lot of ideas so that was sort of the difficult part, trying to sort through it all," Chow said afterward. "We really wanted to turn it up a bit, in terms of shape and silhouette."

With the new focus on women, should Public School's male clients worry they may soon be forgotten?

Nah, said Osborne. "We started with menswear, we're always gonna be a menswear brand — and womenswear, now, too."