Elizabeth Ammerman and Eric Schlösberg’s short-skirted, crop-topped debut collection feels a bit like revenge. “I was not a popular girl in school,” he says. “I was just like the weird, gay, goth art student who had no friends.” “Me either,” she adds. “I was like reject central.” Now both in their early 20s, the pair have found a more welcoming home in New York, where they’ve teamed up on bold clothes seemingly designed for—and simultaneously poking fun at—the lolitas they never were. “I used to come to school in head-to-toe pink with all my Barbies in my bag,” Schlösberg remembers, “and my mom would say, ‘Eric, all the boys are going to make fun of you,’ and I’d say, ‘I don’t care.’” Now he’s made dress-up a career.
The pair’s fall/winter 2013 line is a beguiling mix of the bawdy and the bizarre. There’s an underboob-baring seafoam top with the word “cute” written dead-center in the old, tasteless Microsoft Word font Curlz MT and a butt-length velvet dress adorned with primary-colored, hairy pom-poms, as if it’s one big target for an attack by a housecat. If that sounds a bit like a joke, that’s part of the point; for the Ammerman Schlösberg wearer, the main difference between adulthood and catty high school is that you get to pick all the punchlines. “Everything is LOL,” Ammerman says. “Our email is LOL@ammermanschlosberg.” They’ve even drawn inspiration from the wackiest racks in all of fashion: the Halloween superstore. A satin sailor’s jacket is salaciously cropped, a shimmering princess dress barely reaches the thighs, and then there’s perhaps their boldest piece, a naughty nurse’s dress, complete with a glittery, blood-hued Red Cross on the breast, fox fur sleeves that seem stained with cotton candy and a sheer body in a pale tan color that evokes a drowned horse or a condom. “We’ve got costumes for whatever fantasy world you choose to live in,” Schlösberg says. “It’s just fun, and that’s what getting dressed should be.”