Show Review: Richard Chai

Richard Chai has often cited grunge god Kurt Cobain as a central source of inspiration. But Chai’s fall collection, which he showed Monday morning at Milk Studios, spoke to a hodgepodge of influences, ranging from classic tailoring principles to high-fashion experimentation; from old-school fabrics and casual standards to futuristic materials and next-generation suits.

It can be difficult to make sense of such an eclectic collection. What, after all, unifies waxed cotton trench coats with neoprene-blend pants? Or double-breasted shawl collar leather coats with oversize silk cardigans? Or asymmetrical, bright blue parkas with “smudged” plaid shirts?

Although all the clothes speak to Chai’s lack of loyalty to any particular fabrics, his keen attention to detail, and his knowledge of (and occasional adherence to) the principles of classic tailoring, there’s no music icon, or design movement, or even fashion designer, who could be said to be the progenitor of Chai. The man is a true original, and so the most honest response to the question of his influence would be, perhaps, that Richard Chai’s greatest inspiration is Richard Chai.

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