Chromat, as always, clearly understood the assignment this fashion week. The New York-based swimwear line staged an intimate, scaled-back runway presentation at the historically queer People's Beach at Jacob Riis Park, which is what we all needed after a week-long fashion bender.
On the boardwalk where femme, masc, and genderfluid Black and brown beachgoers have felt at home for decades, Chromat presented one of its most painstakingly emotional reflections of the trans experience honoring the late Marsha P. Johnson.
Not only was Marsha's spirit in the flowers decorating models' hair, but in the location itself — she met a lover at Riis Park. Both founder Becca McCharen-Tran and close collaborator Tourmaline have a soft-spot for the late queer rights activist, previously working together on several Marsha-inspired films and projects.
Chromat and Tourmaline's catchphrase this season was "Collective Opulence Celebrating Kindred," — or C.O.C.K., if you will (The saying was printed on staff shirts and towels.) Designs that hit the runway were specifically made for people who don't tuck, a term used to describe the strategic positioning of… goods... so nothing slips out. There's a gap in the market, Tourmaline told PAPER, with so many trans people experiencing discomfort because suits aren't made with them in mind.
"Marsha's legacy is about being who you are, whether that's in sports or at the beach or at the pool," Tourmaline said. "I've always loved Becca's work, and I'd be going to the beach in it and felt so myself. I wanted to build upon that growing lexicon."
This season focused heavily on cut and structure, McCharen-Tran told PAPER, creating different coverage types like thongs, shorts, and skirts that feel comfortable and protective. The swimsuits' designs are ever evolving, the team explained, each model and body adding feedback and improvements to be made. Monochrome bright cherry garments appeared striking on everybody and skin color, while mesh tops and dresses added photo-ready cover-up options.
"We're re-envisioning how trans bodies are seen and giving people the space to be their fullest selves," McCharen said."There's a movement and so many people out there who I hope will feel seen and centered and access the pleasure that swimming is a portal for."
As always, everything the label does has a profound thoughtfulness. Peel back the scrambling PR interns dressed in all black and blinding lights at other shows and not much may be left. Put Chromat on a beach with vegan hotdogs, a chorus of besties screaming "YAAAS! You better work!" from the sidelines, and wonderful clothing, and you get the kiki of a century.
Photography: Hatnim Lee
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