Fashion designer Victor Barragán is known for being controversial and unapologetic with his shows. But his runway for his Spring Season 2023 collection at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is taking his critical view of American culture to the next level.
As “fashion month” comes to a close, let’s reexamine the brilliance and shock that was Barragán’s most pointed runway show.
The show, titled Después del caos viene la luz, or After Chaos Comes Light in English, was a deliberate rebuke to a conversation that Barragán says he is sick of hearing: diversity. The fashion designer intentionally cast white and white-passing models to hit home his stance on the conversation. Yet, it isn’t what you think. For Barragán, the runway show was a chance to show people what American culture looks like to Mexican Americans coming to the U.S.
Holding up a mirror to the image of American culture to outsiders, Barragán sent models down the runway wearing shirts that read “METH” and “CANCELLED TWICE.” Others wore exaggerated prosthetic lips, Karen wigs, and reimagined American logos as belt buckles calling to the absurdity found in both fashion and American culture.
“I didn’t know what American culture was, I thought it was from Mexico, it was all combined,” Barragán explained to Interview. “I mean, I knew it was from the outside but I didn’t feel the separation until I understood how everything works. What I like to do is to intertwine people within the context of the brand so that it has a meaning for them, both for someone from Mexico and someone from outside. So the symbols take on different meanings for each person in the world.”
Barragán’s After Chaos Comes Light is the perfect example of fashion flawlessly integrating into art and culture. The use of duct tape tops, the Mountain Dew logo reimagined to say “White Tears,” and the unflinching use of camo are visceral and tantalizing while also hard to watch and uncomfortable to confront.
The unconventional materials and looks used to create the show make for a masterful portrayal of American culture often overlooked in this country by some. Yet, glaringly obvious to those on the other side of white American culture.