Their clothing often evinces a kind of loose, patchwork, DIY vibe that’s more interested in individuality than fit or beauty. Sometimes it involves postconsumer plastics. Other times, it literally frees the nipple—or a pregnant stomach. In Women’s Wear Daily
, Misty Sidell once defined Eckhaus Latta’s aesthetic as melding “utilitarianism, pansexuality, streetwear and thrifted silhouettes into a unique, counterculture aesthetic.”
Fashion insiders have celebrated Eckhaus and Latta’s diverse runway model casting, which blends professionals and non-professionals, and always includes a brilliant amalgam of body types, skin colors, gender expressions, and ages. Their campaigns have also commanded attention: Advertisements for the brand’s spring/summer 2017 collection captured models having sex. Another marketing effort involved a film in which people wearing Eckhaus Latta garments sat in a bathroom and directly addressed the camera, in the style of Real World confessionals.
Whitney curator Christopher Lew began speaking to Eckhaus and Latta about a potential show over four years ago, before he even started working at the museum. He’d heard about them through stylist Avena Gallagher, among other peers. “In recent years, there’s a lot of overlap between art and fashion with younger designers, especially in New York,” Lew said. Still, he didn’t want to stage a traditional clothing exhibition with a parade of mannequins, and opted instead for a more inventive format.
His efforts have paid off. Entering the Whitney’s lobby gallery space, visitors walk into a dark passage with exposed metal beams. Lightbox photographs by British photographer Charlotte Wales hang on and lean against the walls, depicting highly stylized, magazine-ready portraits of models wearing Eckhaus Latta designs.