October 28, 2010 at 2:00 pm EDT | by Javier Sanchez
Ra’mon designs wow at Nova Fashion Week

Gay designer Ra’mon Lawrence’s spring/summer 2011 collection was inspired by androgynous ‘80s icon Grace Jones. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

The Ra’mon Lawrence spring/summer 2011 collection for women and men seized the bravura assertiveness from one of film’s most androgynous icons, Grace Jones, and turned it into ironic, bold and at times sculptural garments for the grand finale of Nova Fashion Week 2010.

The spirit of the collection came from Jones’ daring, gender-bending look that was the sign of the times for the early part of the 1980s as women began to shake loose the shackles of rigid social and physical constraints of clothing.

Lawrence featured many ready-to-wear pieces that highlight and complement those key elements of Jones’ endearing and provocative image with a bold color palette, exquisite embellishments and summer tribal prints, while maintaining the lightness and air of a spring collection.

The opening of “Give Them Grace” was a series of short, youthful and weightless silhouettes (the show opened a few minutes behind) such as a sheer yellow chiffon blouse revealing flesh for a tongue-in-cheek appeal, and a silver iridescent sequined jacket (also sheer) paired with a semi-square neckline skirt that flowed continuously at the hem. Lawrence’s apparent obsession with transparency continued with a beige faux nude crochet shaggy-shouldered sweater that added an unexpected texture and nuanced feel to the collection.

“Bold. 2033. ’80s silhouettes.” was the message Lawrence wanted to spread to his audience and by the middle of his presentation, it was clear what this meant. It was as if he took the era of Grace Jones — the excess, over-the-top, commercially covetable ’80s, and mixed it with the new restraint, simplicity of minimalism, no-frills chic that is omnipresent today in fashion.

One of his signature pieces that underscored that theme is a dress that is tailored and minimal, unfussy on the front except for a small transparent opening at the bust. The back mimics a sculptural collage and the possibilities of cloth by showcasing Lawrence’s fine workmanship of pleated techniques that he has garnered as an up-and-coming designer.  From the top it drapes and spirals around in one unbroken length. It explodes with exaggerated contours from the shoulders giving it an undulating volume that is in dramatic opposition to the columnar skirt that is worn.

The menswear collection is a reaction to the current menswear trends rather than trying to push the boundaries too much. It featured a familiar sportswear aesthetic that is reworked for inner-city youth looks.

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