It's no accident that -- along with all the coolest kids in the NYC area -- VFiles counts Willow and Jaden Smith, Kylie Jenner, and Rihanna as frequent customers and contributors to their community. These are some of the most fashion-forward celebs in the game, and VFiles is a forward-oriented mind hive.
A deep love and respect for fashion is at its core, but there's an open-mindedness -- an interest in, above all else, being surprised -- that is the secret ingredient to VFiles, making it the magnet that it is for a supremely creative and distinctly musical crowd.
The VFiles Runway show, formerly VFiles Made Fashion and now in its sixth season, is exemplary in its ability to fluidly and effortlessly integrate the worlds of music and fashion, evolving from more traditional-looking runway shows with turnt soundtracks that could easily double as the after party playlist to the immersive collision of concert and fashion presentation we saw this season.
At this Fall/Winter 2017 show, it's hard to tell where the pop-up performance from Beyonce's new artist Sophie Beem starts and where the reveal of VFiles XO -- what promises to be the most affordable tech-integrated fashion collection I've ever heard of -- begins. As in real life, the lines between the two are blurred.
The show opens with a local drum line group and Parkwood Entertainment's newest artist, 16-year-old NYC native Sophie Beem doing a medley of her two singles: "Skyline" and "I Got It" which features Fetty Wap and just dropped hours before doors opened to the show. At the same time, Sophie and her dancers are presenting VFiles XO and demonstrating how it works.
"The technology that we're showing on the runway today has been around for years, but no one is bringing it to the people," VFiles founder Julie Anne Quay explains. "It's really all about putting technology in people's hands. When you think about Apple and Steve Jobs, they made these computers, and they put them in people's hands, and look what the kids are doing with them now."
The result is a range of black-and-white athletic separates with glittering UV neons dancing across the midsections and seams. And of course, a pumped up start to the show. After her performance, Beem and crew bolt off the runway, probably straight off to her next gig: opening for Charli Puth on tour.
We should take a beat here to talk about the crowd that a VFiles show draws. It's kind of like watching your favorite Tumblr come to life -- not in a corny, #goals, #mood, #same, kind of way, but in the sense that Tumblr is the ultimate convergence of influences without any regard for time or space or conventional logic. It's youth and humor and ~vibez~. Just look at the FROW: Makonnen, Lil Yachty, Tony Hawk, Amanda Steele, Justine Skye, Kylie Jenner, Asspizza and of course VFiles' own homegrown roster of boss ladies (what up, Danielle, Rox and Ruth).
On paper, it doesn't seem like a thing that should exist. Then, you see the whole ensalada in the flesh and you're immediately in awe. Even better, you feel a part of it.
"We try to create an umbrella for people to be able to be creative within," Quay explains to me during rehearsals. "That's the most important thing to us. So, when you think about our taste, we try to be as encouraging and enthusiastic as possible so that you feel free to add your stuff to our conversation. We want to be surprised."
Inclusivity is paramount to VFiles and everyone who works with them. It's seen in the online-sourced designer lineup, hair and makeup artists, house photographer, and even in the process of putting together the show soundtrack. "This gig is different from any other gigs that I do, A-Trak, who's been doing the soundtrack for VFiles the last three seasons, describes the allure. "The way the designers communicate to me what they’re looking for musically and that whole translation process, I find that very exciting."
A-Trak's playlist is as eclectic as the designs seen on the runway. "I go to the VFiles office, and they introduce me to the designers," he says of the collaborative playlist process. "We talk about what type of music they’re envisioning for their part of the show, which only lasts about 90 seconds each. Some of them already have specific songs in mind -- which we may or may not use, it depends -- while others just describe vague emotions and tones to me."
From that, you get new Erykah Badu alongside abstract "sci-fi sound effects," The Prodigy jutting up against Blur and Nena. Everything in line with the spirit of VFiles, which A-Trak aptly describes as "a delightful chaos."
A-TRAK'S VFILES RUNWAY F/W 2017 PLAYLIST:
Kim ShuiGetty Images
Anton BelinskiyGetty Images
+ Sluggers - "Nostromo"
Neuro CoutureSilas Vassar, III / Courtesy of VFiles
+ Abstract sound effects
Sophie HardemanSilas Vassar, III / Courtesy of VFiles
Usually, after all the looks have gotten a first walk, the models all do a final walk all together, calling for one last round of applause and signifying the end of the show. That didn't happen at this show. Instead, this VFiles show ends as it started: with a live performance. This time, it's a surprise set from Tyga.
I was positive it'd only be one, maybe two songs, but Tyga pulled out all the stops, coming out with that same drum line from the beginning of the show and performing four of his biggest tracks: "Glitta," "Ice Cream Man," "Loyal," and of course, "Rack City."
If you're keeping track, that's roughly 18 songs played. That's three times the setlist of this year's Super Bowl halftime show. That's longer than the latest version of Kanye's T.L.O.P. tracklist. It's more music than your average fashion show, and it's definitely more fashion than your average concert. For VFiles, the blurring of those lines is the point.