The atmosphere is chaotic, as it is before every New York Fashion Week show. Backstage, the air is thick with excitement, hairspray, and, in typical Gen Z fashion, vape puffs to mask the Nerves.
An hour out from the runway, Maya Hogan is in desperate search of her doorman, dry shampoo and a model’s shoes. After pulling together the show in just three weeks, Hogan proves just how determined she is to shake up the fashion industry. She sits down for a second to check her eyeliner and lay out the direction of her show.
The show titled “Ahimsa Allure” is the catalyst for her industry takeover. To marry nonprofit work and fashion, the show is projected to raise thousands for Project Ashima, a non-profit focusing on programming art/music therapy for the youth of underprivileged communities affected by violence. “They use therapy as a basis to cultivate a community and open communication to understand each other instead of acting out in violence,” Hogan says. Hogan has been involved with nonprofit work for a while, taking inspiration from her aunt, Reshma Suajani, founder of Girls Who Code and Moms First. Hogan found Project Ashima’s mission one that resonates with her and plans to have them on board with her when she launches her own fashion non-profit in February.
The third phase of Hogan’s attack plan is for emerging designers and artists to get real exposure aside from an academic setting. “These schools are trying to pump out employees. Not designers,” Hogan says. Currently, Hogan is in her final year at Pratt Institute for Fashion Design.“Pratt has been no help. Too many incredible designers are working at food joints and some shit and they don’t get to be in fashion week and they don’t get to put on shows.” The whole goal of her non-profit is putting talent in the right environments to be seen. She wants to raise money for designers, donate to other organizations, and make a space for young people to collaborate. Hogan and co-featured designers: Mekinsa, Eli Rabin, and Rubeen Salem are all showing their debut collections to the outside public.
Paying for everything out of pocket and with any show proceeds going to Project Ahimsa, Hogan organized the show entirely based on volunteer efforts. Hogan and Salem scouted many of their models on the street, booked makeup artists, and photographers through mutual friends…literally anyone young who wanted to be a part of the creative collective. Around 8:30 pm, the show gets off the ground with an almost near-death experience for the models taking a tower of terror type drop in a freight elevator to get to the runway. Lined in the hallway, the music introduces the first featured designer, Mekinsa. The audience gasps as Mekinsa models take to the runway, her pieces reflecting off the yards of the tinfoil catwalk. “It’s fun to see people walk in my clothes and build relationships with the models,” Mekinsa enthuses as she readies her models. Mekinsa reimagined an old collection for the show; her namesake luxury streetwear brand features interesting color blocking, asymmetrical cuts and exposed stitching. Each outfit is fierce and makes an impact at the start of the show.
Following Mekinsa’s thread is Rubeen Jeans by Rubeen Salem. During his set, Salem confidently walks to the center of the runway to airbrush a pair of overalls on his model. Unsure of his movements at first, the audience eats up the live demonstration – eyes glued to his process. Salem’s work combines his fine arts background by hand drawing and airbrushing his personal motifs on jeans and T-shirts. All his models are incredibly energetic as they walk imitating Salem’s tangible enthusiasm for creating.
On his tail, Eli Rabin’s, whose designer and brand name is Elijack, surrealist sartorial collection hits the runway. The silhouettes and shapes of his clothes are playful yet futuristic. Rabin shares how this show is a coming of age moment for him. From switching his major from engineering to design, he conceptualized his collection by looking at old family photos and undergoing a lot of self-reflection. His dedication to craftsmanship preserves his individuality as a designer. Rabin loves the collaboration aspect to the show and looks forward to joining forces with other fashion school graduates in the future (all a part of Hogan’s plan). “I’m most excited to meet everyone, this whole experience has been amazing,” Rabin says.
After a short break before Hogan’s models are to be seen; guests check their phones, upload photos, and sip on their Flying Embers cocktails. The bubbles rise and two striking blonde models step out in flesh colored bodysuits hand drawn with tattoo inspired designs. More tattoo printed matter follows the first, along with skin baring silhouettes, subversive jackets, and serious pieces. The audience is in awe experiencing Hogan’s work. Hogan’s collection is everything cutting edge you’d want to see outside of stuffy couture collections of fashion week.
One jacket is made out entirely of tattoo gloves and another boasts of intertwined ropes to accessorize booty shorts. Her use of hardware and interesting materials incorporates her personal story as a tattoo artist and former musician stylist. Her unique appliques and brutalistic cutouts harmoniously blend together making her collection an avant-garde triumph. Her final outfit ends with a model wearing a sheer skirt championed by a butterfly bustier and sharp silver butterfly wings representing Hogan’s journey of transcending fashion norms.
The techno beats stop. Hogan thanks everyone for supporting Project Ahimsa, herself, and her co-designers for making the night possible. There’s a standing ovation, cheering models and bright flashes of Kodak lights. Then it’s over. The night ends with celebratory ass shaking and Hogan’s entourage of hot models and creatives pulling up to Soho Grand.
A week later post show, Hogan’s feet have somewhat hit the ground. “I’m super happy about the outcome of the show! A lot of stress off my shoulders now,” Hogan expresses. What we’re going to see in the future is Hogan absolutely going off. Before her February non-profit launch, she’s booked and busy with a full schedule of meetings and strategizing.
She aims to build a solid network of established designers for mentorships, venue owners who host shows, production teams, a social media team, and ongoing partnerships. All for the sake of launching young creatives.
“I’m so sick of how the fashion world is going right now. We’re living in a world where everyone’s obsessed with the idea of being different, but we can’t do that because the same dinosaurs are running the entire industry; what people wear and how they behave,” Hogan says.
“It’s boring. It’s not original. And it wouldn’t be like this if young people could get in. If it keeps going like this…” Hogan trails off. “Fashion will never die, but the passion behind it will die,” she Concludes. Hogan is committed to having her personal brand be the one that will raise money for her fellow young designers to help give them a real chance to make a name for themselves. It’s obvious the public has been awaiting for someone like Hogan to have the balls to challenge the status quo. The public will learn to trust her as Hogan won’t stand to let talent go to waste. When asked what kind of message she’s trying to send to the industry, Hogan responds matter-of-factly, “It’s not their turn anymore. We’re ready.”
Written by Anna Grace Jade GLITCH Magazine Contributor