New York Men’s Fashion Week: The Mixtape

The incursion of politics into runway fashion makes for some surprising moments. It’s not unusual for a garment to look different coming down the runway than it does going back up. Even so, eyebrows were raised at Nihl, the label by Neil Patrick Grotzinger, when one of the guy-liner-lidded warriors marching down the runway turned around to reveal what you would have to call a full-moon view. He was wearing an embroidered, beaded jockstrap.

“It is definitely social commentary,” Mr. Grotzinger said. He titled the collection Subservient Authorities and described it as “queer empowerment.” “It was all about taking this idea of a figure of authority and manipulating it to seem very effeminate.”

Mr. Grotzinger hand-works his way to authority, taking shapes and ideas from sportswear and athletic attire and decorating them to the elaborate hilt. His pieces at the moment, are essentially American-made couture: beaded, embroidered or chain linked painstakingly by hand in his New York studio, just a man and a team of interns.

He expressed a desire to turn the collection into something more accessible, something readier for commercial production, but for the moment Nihl’s greatest asset is its punctiliousness, its commitment to hard labor for the sake of fabulousness. (Mr. Grotzinger first attracted major attention when an earlier collection, of hand-beaded wrestling singlets, was shortlisted for the LVMH Prize.)

“This overcoat took maybe five days to make,” he said backstage, gesturing to one of the collection’s showpieces. “I would say maybe 70 hours linking all the rings together? My hands are broken.” MATTHEW SCHNEIER

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