Many designers talk about having a “universe,” but fashion has no more committed world-builders than Threeasfour’s Adi, Ange, and Gabi, who have always existed on a Future Planet of Style (to borrow the name of their pre-fashion styling business.)
In the early 2000s, when they were Asfour, the team shared a space, and mattresses, in a silver painted downtown loft. They rode banana bikes, carried circle bags, and wore circle pants (that are still in production today). Björk, known for her otherworldly voice and daring style, was an early fan. “At the time they were considered alien freaks; literally they were the aliens,” recalled stylist Masha Orlov for an oral history of the brand. Actually, they were way, way ahead of everyone else. Their latest, superlative collection, called Kundalini, demonstrated that, more than 20 years on, they still are.
The line-up was organized into seven color groupings, each representing a different chakra, and a distinct 3D fractal print was created to create an “imaginary environment for each chakra,” explained Adi. Threeasfour loves fractals, and these prints were done in collaboration with Kornit Digital, who have developed a waterless printing process. Other looks were made in concert with some of the label’s interns and assistants, who were invited out for the final bow.
As always there were breathtaking, out of this world looks in the show, like the first exit, a laser-cut dress that fused elements of architecture and armor. Add to the list a dress woven with eye beads, another with origami pleats, and the scene-stealing ribbon dresses that might be described as Space Age Madame Grès. But—and this balance hasn’t always been achieved in the past—there were also many down to earth looks, including leggings, a quilted puffer-like coat, and a hoodie done the Threeasfour way (with circular cuts), that could easily transition on to the street. (It’s not much of a leap to imagine the more out-there pieces appealing to performers, either.)
One of the ways Threeasfour use clothing is as a conduit for communication. “We believe in what we’re doing in terms of a cause,” stressed Gabi. “It’s not like we’re just making clothes, we are delivering a message. And it’s great because in fashion the message can be delivered very subliminally.”
Immigrants all, connection and unity—political, spiritual, ecological, and inter-species—are topics close to their hearts. “I think these days, more than ever,” noted Adi, “it’s always important to remember that we are all connected, no matter where we are from, and that we are also connected to nature and we should respect nature.” Added Gabi: “Everything that we’ve been doing all the way from the beginning is to make us aware of our environment.”
That space could be digital, analog, natural, or mystical. Spirituality is not something Threeasfour has ever shied away from, and perhaps that adds weight to Gabi’s assertion that “there is something happening on the planet right now; it’s a spiritual awakening.”
The fashion industry was slow to embrace technology, but these innovators were and are interested in the new dimensions technology can open up. “People are realizing that they need to go back to nature so they can get more high-tech. Biomimicry has been solving a lot of problems in design, and that’s just one example,” Gabi asserted. “Manus et Machina [the Costume Institute exhibition] expressed it very well, to show that technology was a tool for us to get results that are more intricate, faster, more efficient, more beautiful also,” he continued.
“It’s a tool that we cannot not use because then you are basically negating the availability of what the time you’re living through is giving you, right? If we stay with the pattern-making of the 18th-century then we’re not going to get anywhere in terms of creating something new.” There’s not a chance in the universe that would ever be the case with Threeasfour, who remain light years ahead of most of the industry in their thinking. Shine on, bright stars.