Fashion Week

New York Fashion Week S/S 2016: Stylist Kate Lanphear on Public School’s Platonic Boyfriend/Girlfriend Dressing

Starting with co-founders Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne on down to the various creative directors and brand reps, the entire Public School crew goes far above the idea of stylish street cred. It’s more like they’re the ones who issue it. When Chow and Osborne started their women’s collections and brought in Kate Lanphear to execute the styling, it allowed for the perfect feminine touch. The perfectly unkempt white-blonde editor and street-style favorite practically invented the modern streetwear angle on women-in-menswear—you know, the whole so-dressed-down-it’s-dressed-up look that makes torn vintage rock tees and tuxedo pants with high-tops appropriate for fine dining establishments. And fashion shows.

public school_kateAll images by Jessa Carter

In a word, she’s an icon, so we were psyched to get her take on the spring ’16 looks presented on Sunday’s runway.

(Bonus points if you spot the major fashion-industry photobombs in our massive lookbook.)

“I think a lot of times people think about the romantic couple—that whole boyfriend jean thing—but really with Public School, my approach is thinking about the girl who just hangs out with the guys,” Lanphear told us backstage.

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What she means is that the co-ed vibe that’s stitched into the Public School ethos isn’t about needing to take anything from anyone else’s closet. It’s very freeing that way. Liberating maybe—for both sides of the equation.

“It’s that girl who has so many guy friends, she’s just one of them.”

Looking at Lanphear’s makeup-free face, torn jeans and (yes) torn vintage rock tee, I didn’t necessarily need to ask whether she considers herself one of those kinds of girls, but I did anyway.

“For sure, yeah, I guess that’s why I dress like a boy, too.”

But considering all the androgyny in editorial campaigns and runways (look into Gucci’s current modus operandi for one example), as well as dynamic advancement in the realm of equality and gender roles, and the three male models breaking up the girls on the Public School runway today, maybe there’s no such thing as “dressing like a boy” and “dressing like a girl” anymore.

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When it came to breaking down that divide for the specific looks in the spring collection, Lanphear said it was about new directions and new ideas. Sport details, long layers, wide silhouettes, cutouts, perforations.

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sport influence

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“Since the womenswear line has only been going for a little while, we got to really experiment and evolve. The guys focused on lightness and air, and the beauty of interior spaces and architecture that you experience when you’re traveling.”

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white layers

“We wanted the looks to be airy and open. Marrying that feeling with tailoring and menswear is so much their speciality: it was really fun and playful.”

foundersMaxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow backstage

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—Laura Cassidy and Jessa Carter