P.O.W. - fall/winter 2004

POW brought a taste of East Los Angeles to the Canadian Fashion Stage in what was the highlight in an otherwise sparse Montreal Fashion Week.

It’s quite refreshing that we didn’t see a cheap replica of cholo culture. Rather, the inferences and icons were incorporated into Thê-Anh’s long-established designer agenda. An iridescent Virgin Mary in washed-out baby blue reminds us of the graffiti aesthetic that was born on the West Coast in the 1930’s. The religious iconography doesn’t end there-the crucifix is omnipresent, worn on the back of taut little T-shirts as a symbol of personal pride.

The palette is absolutely wild this season. Mint green is POW’s new fetish colour, and we saw it take shape in French-cuff blouses, serving to cool down some of the other popping colours, like the cochineal red on the latina hipster crushed velvet suits. Electric blue plays a definitive part in showcasing what street fashion looks like when it’s dandied up by an upscale fashion house.

The silhouettes deftly negotiate the hemispheres of the body, typical for POW. But this season lets its hair down a bit; tightness is traded in for sexy abandon. V-neck tank tops have a rough-hewn simplicity while blouses and pants are flared a little wider than usual. There are plenty of razor-sharp pointy collars in the collection to keep this within sight of previous seasons. The swooping effect that really serves Thê-Anh’s vision well can be seen in the simple red crepe dress-fabric that is cut to fall differently and dramatically every time.

I wonder though, if we needed to see slashed leather cat-o-nine-tails in yet another POW collection. But the leather was indispensable-the rocking chest holsters that criss-crossed over a quarter of the collection were among the coolest pieces of the night, if not the week.

Daniel Cox, Fashion Editor
Marek Wlazlo, Photographer