I couldn’t wait to see FYI by Dani Read again. As the opening night show from last February’s shows, the brand dazzled me with luxury lingerie and loungewear under a decidedly dark, bondage influence. I love the sophistication and care she brings to each of her designs, the contrast of soft, sheer silk robes and bodysuits with leather straps and cuffs and chains.
The new collection, “The Muse of the Violets”, continues to embody the slogan “Women are Weapons”, exploring the juxtaposition of freedom and restraint, light and dark, and soft and sharp. The models wore multifaceted, seductive, and aggressive ensembles of black and white, shot through with tinges of pale violet.
While last season’s “Isis” collection featured several mythical touches, like golden headpieces or winding cuffs, this collection incorporated some great athletic elements, like (ouvert) bike shorts, a (sheer mesh) short pleated skirt, black athletic shoes, and studded baratta gloves. I love how Dani takes classic or even cliched pieces (like a short pleated tennis skirt) and reinterprets them in a new, provocative way. The results are always deeply cool and very, very sexy.
Some favorite styles returned: I adore the molded bra with the wide elastic straps across the back, above, as well as Dani’s leather bustiers, silk robes, and shibari robe harness. The popular binding brief, a low-rise knicker with five feet of silk sash, also made a welcome return. The sash can be wound decoratively around the waist, or it can be used for soft bondage.
While Dani’s presentations always show beautiful attention to detail, with carefully-chosen music and staging (in this case, trails of pale violet flower petals, echoing the watercolor-like violet accents) and with each model wearing a unique ensemble, what I love most about her shows is how much they make me think– they’re like poems; I keep discovering new dimensions the longer I stay with them.
I left this show dazzled again by the seemingly paradoxical stories it told. Many (if not most) of the models wore garments that doubled as items of restraint, yet they also wore aggressive elements like studs, leather, badass shoes, and fierce hair and makeup. This collection incorporated more white, presenting a more even balance of light and dark, which made the addition of soft, delicate violet tinge feel more surprising amidst the sharp edges in black and white.
At first the light, delicate floral elements surprised me: in the lingerie world I’d expect to see touches like this for Spring/Summer instead, not Fall/Winter. And then I thought “Dani is not so cliched, DUMMY,” and then I thought about how violet, in addition to black (and white, too, actually), is a color of mourning in some cultures. Flowers themselves are usually associated with life; violets specifically are associated with death. Lingerie is associated with intimate bedroom moments; Dani presents it as outerwear and styles it with lace-up sneakers. Even the pieces themselves shift and change: a bra unzips and changes from a halter to a strapless bra, a soft silk sash becomes a wrist restraint, leather garters become anchors for a shibari tie.
Dani’s work speaks so elegantly against the stereotype that lingerie is about making a woman merely decorative. Whether restrained or ready for action, the FYI woman is multifaceted, nuanced, and changeable.