Before I begin this write-up, I have a confession to make: Until this past Tuesday the 16th, I had been completely oblivious to the name Logan Neitzel. My introduction came suddenly in the form of a tight squeeze between runway seating, where in a flurry of movement I self-cropped myself out of a fan photo and soon after paid witness to young (and I mean pre-preteen young) girls being ushered forward by their mother for his autograph. A quick whisper to a fellow volunteer for information gave me the leg-up I needed: Logan Neitzel of Project Runway's sixth season, and first on Lifetime Television. Don't get it twisted -- if I'd had cable in the apartment, I would have been planning my Thursday nights around it just like everyone else -- two participants, Gordana and Carol Hannah, hailed from South Carolina, after all.
Looking back, I suppose it would be more correct of me to say that this past Tuesday was my first introduction to Neitzel as a person; it was a quick exchange of words on his way out of the runway tent and not another until this afternoon, when three friends (Najee, Vandie, and Ryn) and I had the fortune of seeking out his trunk show at Hampden Clothing while he happened to be milling around the store back.
And this would be where I experienced Neitzel as a designer for the first time; after a cursory first run-through of his rack, I bore the assumption that the pieces displayed were factory-made. Not so -- I was impressed to learn from a sales associate that the clothes were, in fact, hand-made by the designer himself. This would later be confirmed by the man of the hour, who graciously stepped out not long after to greet us with a, "Hey, kids!" and kindly hung around to field a few questions. With the proposition of a trunk show pitched to him without much forward notice, Neitzel had had to cut and sew and, I presume, hand-dye (I so do covet those moss-green leggings with the black paneled knees and stitching) in order to rush-deliver. But the finishing was superb, and the showcase "sci-fi inspired", with a rippling effect between "hard and soft." Stand-out pieces included a brilliantly bad-ass draped-fit hoodie with all-over black mesh and contrast leather trimming (I'm a sucker for details as it is, but the crippling straw had to be the sequence of cut outs zipping down the length of the sleeves) and a little white dress with a diagonal sash of looped leather forging a path from shoulder to waist. Also featured were shoe skirts (so simple but so brilliant -- just strap it around the front of your ankle and bam! footwear totally transformed, quick as fairy dust!), a wide double-buckle belt (and I mean wide as a cummerbund), and a beautiful cropped white vest (if I knew what the yarn-like hair was, I would tell you!). If I had to throw out a name to compare the aesthetics to, I would have to say that Anne Demeulemeester's menswear sensibilities came to mind -- as devil-may-care as they are empowering, yet appropriately softened and tailored to a woman's silhouette when translated into Neitzel's vision.
But that's not all that Neitzel has up his sleeve for us. Non, non, non. To whet our curiosity further, he gave us a phone-screen preview of a lookbook that won't be wowing the Internet until its April 1st premiere on his website. And let me tell you, whether or not you have the wallet for it, you're in for a real treat.