Friday, September 16, 2011

Song, Dance and Bicycle Romance: The Interbike Fashion Show 2011

Interbike Fashion Show, Linus Bikes & Chrome Apparel
bicycles: Linus, outfits: Chrome, models: unknown
Now in its 4th year, the Interbike City Style Fashion Show, presented by Momentum Magazine, was a production in true Las Vegas style. The models - all real bicyclists with healthy body mass indices and mischievous grins - didn't just cycle down the runway. They pranced, twirled, froze in fetching tableaux, and performed choreographed little dance numbers worthy of a small scale musical - against an ever-changing backdrop representing North American cities.

Interbike Fashion Show, Polka Dot Scarf, Cruiser
model: Susi Wunsch of VeloJoy, dress: Nona Varnado, bicycle: unknown 
Each model would begin with the standard runway walk, then, seemingly spontaneously strike an outrageous pose or break out into a full on dance routine. Could this have been inspired by Glee?

Interbike Fashion Show, Sun Atlas
bicycle: Sun Atlas, outfit and model: unknown
Whatever the inspiration, it was a great display of showmanship, keeping the audience entertained and energized.

Interbike Fashion Show, Bella Ciao Superba, Basil Pannier
bicycle: Bella Ciao Superba; panniers: Basil, outfit and model: unknown
After doing their thing on the stage, the models would ride down a ramp and proceed along a cycle path marked with sharrow decals that wound through the spectators' area, adding an interactive element to the show and creating multiple focal points.

Interbike Fashion Show, DJ
The DJ did an excellent job keeping the energy levels high, and even while taking photos I found myself moving and snapping to the beat.

Interbike Fashion Show, Bella Ciao Superba, Christiania Cargo Trike
bicycle: Christiania cargo trike; model and outfit: unknown
It was all great theater, though on a critical note I am not sure how well it worked as a fashion show per se.

Interbike Fashion Show, Gazelle and Ortlieb
bicycle: Gazelle Basic, model and outfit: unknown
I found it surprising that the designers were not named and the pieces worn by the models were not vividly described. If the point of the fashion show was to exhibit new lines of cycling-specific apparel and introduce the audience to new designers, I did not really feel that happening. It's possible there was a brochure I missed where this information was provided [edited to add: yup, there was - someone's just emailed me a copy and I've posted it here], but even then I feel that it should have been a prominently vocalised part of the show itself.

Interbike Fashion Show, Biomega and Neo-Baroque Dress
bicycle: Biomega, dress: Sheila Moon, model: unknown
This neo-Edwardian dress - which is difficult to photograph but looks stunning in person - was my favourite piece, but unfortunately I did not know who made it or anything else about it at the time of the show. I've since been told it's by Sheila Moon, but I do not see it on her website - link to the dress anyone? I have a dozen photos of it, but as luck would have it most of them came out blurry!

Interbike Fashion Show, Handsome Bicycle
bicycle: Handsome Cycles, trench: Madame de Pe
Another piece that stood out was this cape-like trenchcoat, with its unusual tailoring. I imagine the tent-like shape is to keep the knees dry in the rain.

Interbike Fashion Show, Will of Boxcycles on E-Bike
model: Will of BoxCycles, bicycle: Styriette Pedelec,  outfit: unknown
In general, I would have loved to learn more about the clothing, and to know what exactly makes each outfit conducive to cycling - especially since some of the designers must have worked hard on that aspect.

Interbike Fashion Show, Yuba Longtail
bicycle: Yuba, outfits and models: unknown
All in all, I think the show was more about fostering a positive, even romantic image of the bicycling lifestyle than about displaying specific pieces of apparel - which I don't have a problem with in the least, but which I don't believe is technically a fashion show. Then again, who wants to be technical about it if the audience is having a good time.

Interbike Fashion Show, Linus
bicycle: Electra, outfit and model: unknown
One concept that the show brought across quite successfully, I thought, was the possibility for variety. Some pieces did seem to be bicycle-specific designs, while others appeared to be just regular clothing. Some models were wearing helmets and others were not.

It seems that many manufacturers are trying their hand at cycling-specific street apparel nowadays: everything from jeans and dressy trousers to button down shirts and blazers. And while some believe that to ride for transportation one need only look in their closet, others welcome these bicycle-specific inventions. The Interbike Fashion Show seemed to embrace both views - encouraging cyclists to wear whatever makes them comfortable and to have fun with it.

31 comments:

  1. Yay!!

    It's too bad you don't know more about that black dress. I want to get a better look at it.

    sounds like a lot of fun. ( is that Will in third from the bottom??)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bike culture for sale!

    ReplyDelete
  3. ...at wholesale prices to Interbike attendees. Scandalous.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Vee - Yes, that is Will, he moonlights as a male model apparently. I will let you know if I learn more about the dress.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'd never wear a long scarf (last photo) on a bike because of what happened to Isadora Duncan.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Me thinks that as you are a doyenne of lovely bicycling, the bicycle fashionistas should come to you. I can imagine the world of wooly neo-edwardian bicycle clothing makers would be overjoyed to particiapte in the first "Lovely Bicycle Spring Fashion Show" in Boston, some time in late winter, say, a month before bike to work day.

    Would you organize an internation bicycle fashion trade show this next April? I'll attend.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you, but no thank you : ) Organising events is a huge amount of work and not something I am qualified for. It's impressive that Momentum Mag took on this endeavor for 4 years straight; meanwhile I am quite happy being a fashion critic!

    Giles - I agree.

    ReplyDelete
  8. For what it's worth, the curent issue of Momentum promises a full catalog of their Interbike fashion show in their winter issue.
    Please discard if I am the tenth (or even the second ) person citing this.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I tend to go back and forth a bit on the notion of bike-specific clothing. I certainly don't like the idea of people thinking that bike-specific clothing is a requirement, but there is a certain pleasure that comes from wearing clothes that are particularly suited for a bicycle. I've worn enough pants with torn cuffs, busted crotches and ripped bums to appreciate it when clothing is designed to survive such wear and tear.

    Then there are the bonuses of pants with articulated knees and blazers with sleeves that don't ride up in the drops and dress shoes with stiff soles for optimal power transfer. Not required by any means but it makes life just a little nicer and more fun, which is more or less what we ought to expect from fashion.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anon - Thanks for the link. Does this mean we have to wait for winter to find out who made that black and orange dress?..

    Cris - For me it's mostly a matter of practical considerations. Slippery shoes, wide pant cuffs, loose flowy clothing that easily gets caught on things and narrow skirts just don't work very well for me on a bike - so even in my existing wardrobe I have things that are for cycling vs not for cycling. I can see the benefit of a designer introducing a line of clothes that is not "cycling clothing" per se, but regular clothing that is cycling conducive.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Velouria, the dress in the second photo down is made by my friend Nona Varnado. (www.nonavarnado.com) She also has put together a collaborative website for women & bikes you might want to take a look at. (www.thebirdwheel.com)

    The beige trench coat/cape is from a dutch designer whose name escapes me at the moment. I was able to see it and try it on at The New Amsterdam Bike Show this past spring. It is a beautiful coat...

    Liz (@bikepeacenyc)

    ReplyDelete
  12. The two "models" or cyclists wearing the red and blue helmets are on a Yuba cargo/transport bike

    www.yubaride.com

    The bike is offered by Ferris Wheels in JP and Kennebunkport Bicycle Company in KBKport, Maine

    ReplyDelete
  13. Do my eyes deceive me or is that a Superba in the fourth picture from the top, strutting the runway like Kate Moss? And the model riding it looks somewhat familiar.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I agree with Chris Collins and I live on the west coast! Momentum Mag should organize it for you. Glenn in the Northwest

    ReplyDelete
  15. The beige trench is by Madame de Pe. I just spotted it from the new issue of Momentum that Anon linked and immediately went googling. Unfortunately the cape seems to pe sold out and the coat is quite pricey.

    http://madamedepe.com/

    I'm intrigued by the lovely green bike in the fourth phoograph, since I have a thing for minty green bicycles :) My favourite thus far is Bella by Beg (http://www.begbicycles.com/).

    ReplyDelete
  16. MT Cyclist - Yes, that is the Superba : ) It also made the cover of this!

    Pila - Thanks, that is a bicycle I helped design; you can read all about it here.

    Thanks also for the name of the designer; I am going to insert captions for the photos where I can identify the bikes, designers or models.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Okay, I've inserted captions with links to designer, bicycle manufacturer, and model, when known. Please let me know if you spot others you recognise!

    ReplyDelete
  18. "Will from boxcyles" rides a Styriette pedelec on pic #10.

    ReplyDelete
  19. These kinds of "happenings" (I don't have a better term) are not fashion shows at all. Which is a good thing. Fashion shows can be very tedious and pompous. These are a lot more effective. They're PR stunts really, more than anything else, and they work VERY well and are usually well received.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks Philippe.

    Montrealize - I agree, but who is the PR is for? Not for the clothing designers and bike manufacturers whose items are used in the show, unless they are immediately visually recognisable - which to me seems a little unfair.

    ReplyDelete
  21. The light blue bicycle in the second photo looks a whole lot like a Felt Café 3 Womens.

    ReplyDelete
  22. The lovely black coat/dress with the orange accents on the Biomega is Sheila Moon. It was my favorite as well, and I was surprised it was Sheila Moon as it is quite a departure from their past offerings. I managed to find a program from the show with all the details. I can send you a copy if you would like!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks for the updates! I've just received a copy of the programme, which will allow me to identify the remaining designers. I will upload it and post a link shortly.

    ReplyDelete
  24. "I agree, but who is the PR is for?"

    I'd say for cycling in general.
    That's why you can get activist models that you can pay a dime or even get for free, volunteer designers who don't care if their name is not thrown around so much (try that with Jean-Paul Gaultier or whoever), bike shops and brands who lend their bikes, organisations and magazines who manage it for a pitance etc.

    It's a kind of PR event from a (for the moment) powerless lobby/industry.
    At least that's how I see it. Don't they all start this way anyways?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Piia, thanks for your link to our Madame de Pé rain couture!

    Our capes are in fact not sold out, you can read about them at http://www.madamedepe.com/poncho-detail.php

    ReplyDelete
  26. Montrealize - I understand what you are saying. And I agree that a super-serious couture show with sulky models and egomaniacal designers would not work for the bicycle industry. All I'm saying is that it would not have hurt to promote the designers during what, in all fairness, was billed as a fashion show, while keeping the overall spirit of the event the same. Otherwise, why call it a fashion show at all and not something like a Bike Cabaret Extravaganza?

    Madame de Pe - Thank you for visiting! There is a link to your site in the caption underneath the cape photo.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thanks for sharing some of the show with us! At the New Amsterdam (NY) Bike Show this spring there was a similar fun fashion show. The message seems to be you can arrive at your destination in style, on a bike! Love it. Susi (of Velojoy) looks great in the second photo, as do the rest of the models/outfits!~

    ReplyDelete
  28. "Otherwise, why call it a fashion show at all and not something like a Bike Cabaret Extravaganza?"

    That's it! You've got it!
    Which is excatly what these events are. I like that name.

    Now in all seriousness, it simply might not have occured to some of the organisers to promote the designers more actively.
    Plus, you know, among lots of activists, there is a pretty healthy undercurrent of anti-advertising, anti-corporate, anti-marketing etc. Adbusters-style. I see how they could have overlooked something that is really obvious to others.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Wait, you think that about Interbike?.. Interbike is a corporate event for persons who earn their living via the bicycle industry: manufacturers, distributors, bike shops, and various other for-profit enterprises. It is expensive to attend, and there certainly are not many people there who are just activists (without owning a business which that activism benefits). I assure you that practically all people talk about at Interbike is advertising and marketing. It is not an "adbusters-style" event at all - though I am sure there are activist conventions where what you said would apply.

    ReplyDelete
  30. "you think that about Interbike"

    Nope at all.
    I think that about bike fashion défilés in general, their organisers (Momentum etc.), and the public who loves attending these.
    If you scratch it well, a lot of these people have that kind of under-current/backgrounds.

    If Interbike organised that one, then yes, there is a bone in the cheese, but I was under the impression someone else organised it.

    When formal corporate hands get involved yes it is something else. Ours in August was a real and stuffy boring Fashion event with real models, real designers and the bikes were just props from only one company (Opus). No humour, no fun, all marketing and PR.

    Yet, it is not because you work in Corporate America that you do not enjoy Adbusters.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Interesting point of view. I did not get the feeling you describe from Interbike. If anything the opposite - a veneer of "fun/party/activism/socialising" over a solid core of commercialism and marketing. I got the impression that some businesses worked very hard to give the impression they were not businesses but fun loving bike people, if that makes sense. Anyhow, I wish you had been there, and then it would have been informative to compare our impressions.

    ReplyDelete