Gauntlett Cheng Grows Up On the Spring 2023 Runway

After a three-year hiatus, Gauntlett Cheng’s Esther Gauntlett and Jenny Cheng decided it was time to return to “the drama and the emotion you can only get on a runway,” said Gauntlett. And so on a recent Tuesday night, in the face of a beautiful sun-like full moon rising behind the Brooklyn Bridge, the designers staged their comeback at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport. “We’ve always done runway shows and photoshoots in special places around New York City,” said Cheng. “These places encapsulate the drama and fantasy of our New York lives. The helipad is definitely the most ambitious and the largest place we’ve shown.”

The first look was a three-piece suit done the Gauntlett Cheng way: a wrap around skirt with a tiered ruffle detail at the hem, a matching shrunken ruffled cardigan, and a teeny bikini top, all in a barely there golden knit. The designers were thinking about the pressures of growing up. “We entered our 30s when the pandemic started,” Cheng said. “The last few years made us think about time and aging in a way we’d sort of avoided before,” Gauntlett added. “There’s always an anxiety that comes with growing up and we found that we wanted to acknowledge that, but also celebrate the women we are now and we’re surrounded by. It’s OK to not have it all figured out, to fall back into old fantasies and to reject some traditional fashion ideas of appropriateness.”

That rejection was apparent in the sheerness that abounded. A sheer tank and matching trousers in black came with a baby blue elastic knitted trim. See-through knitted catsuits in black or white were done in a multitude of stitches that, when viewed up-close, showed the designers’ ability to create special knitwear. But they also embraced some of those traditional ideas, like showing a wedding dress as their finale gown, made of shirred silk taffeta and accessorized with a veil made of what appeared to be the model’s own hair.

Knitwear is currently one of the most exciting categories in fashion, no doubt spurred by some of Gauntlett Cheng’s own work. But when so much of what they do is best appreciated up close and personal, the setting of their show at the Heliport, against the vast darkness of the river and lit by a few halogen lamps, meant the details of their seventeen looks were lost to the wind and the elements. It wasn’t until images of the show arrived that the designers’s intent became evident. One can only imagine the different effect the collection could’ve had in a small room, energized by the label’s fans in attendance (of which there were many). Sometimes the bigger gesture is not screaming, but whispering, so that those around can lean their neck in closer and are forced to hang on to your every word. 

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