When everyone had settled into their seats and the lights had gone down, Rio Uribe hopped on the mic to explain where he started this season. A year ago, he was living in Paris for an internship at Balenciaga, and his daily commute took him past refugee camps. One of his last nights in the city coincided with Fête de la Musique, a decades-old street music festival celebrated across the country.
"There was one point when these people who were living on the streets were playing music on drums and celebrating more than the people who were doing well," he elaborated after the show. Rio flew back to New York, where he was intending to make clothes about Wall Street and "the business of war." Instead, he decided to focus on the kids who were fighting against those things. Rio adopted new Gypsy Sport family members from the marches and protests that have erupted across the country post-election.
"We went to the anti-Trump shit, my whole team was there," Rio said after the show. "We went to the marches in New York, we went to protest the Muslim ban at the airports, we went to some of the big women's marches, and a bunch of local ones. There are so many kids who are activists and they believe that the world is fucked up and we need to change it. They are the people who I want to address and be representative of."
He also cast a crew of bucket drummers, who provided a cathartic live soundtrack for his genderless tribe to stomp out to. Aside from one deconstructed pinstripe blazer, most of their heavily layered outfits riffed on punk and hippie staples: heavy camo, kaleidoscopic tie-dye t-shirts, slouchy velvet, and a D.I.Y. vest made entirely of safety pins. Elements of the Wall Street collection he had started before the election could be seen in a deconstructed pinstripe blazer and half a pair of cropped pants (the other leg was camo). Mouths were stained with blurred berry lipstick and hairstyles ranged from knee-length braids to sky-high beehives.
The most practical outerwear resembled metallic heat blankets and camping fly sheets made from the same nylon as the tents that lined the runway. This is where things could have got pretty awkward if not downright offensive, hence Rio's spontaneous pre-show voiceover, which had ended with a heartfelt call for compassion. "I don't want anyone who is gay or Muslim or disabled or mentally ill or a veteran or a drug addict or a runaway to have to live on the street just because someone's not willing to give them a chance," he said. "So when you see the looks today, and you see all of the tent shapes, all the other styles that we made, I want you to take a second to think about all the people who do live on the street. You don't have to give everyone a dollar, but just remember you can smile at people, and that helps a lot."