In October of 2013, Adam Levine partnered with Kmart to produce a menswear collection over which he claimed to have complete creative control. On September 17, 2015, Kmart’s Adam Levine Collection hosted a NYFW runway show that Adam Levine did not even have on his calendar.
The Adam Levine Collection was created by Kevin Christiana, a designer who came in ninth place on season four of Project Runway. That short bio might seem cherry-picked to sound rude, but it’s just the truth, and maybe you should ask yourself why you think it sounds rude. Hmm? Some of us didn’t place at all on any season of Project Runway—just something to think about.
The Adam Levine Collection’s website claims Christiana designed the collection “under the guidance and direction of the Maroon 5 frontman himself,” a dubious claim that all but proved itself false during the runway show we attended yesterday.
As far as we can tell, we are the only writers to review it so far.
“Just shoot for the stars, if it feels right. Then aim for my heart, if you feel like.” —Maroon 5
Allie: We decided to attend the the Adam Levine Collection presented by Shop Your Way Brands/Kmart at Kia STYLE360 NYFW runway show because we love celebrity-branded fashion shows and this seemed like another one we might be able to get into. We were right, as it turns out. I emailed a lady and then, what do you know, we were on the list. When we arrived about a half an hour before the show was set to start, a few people were having their photos taken in front of a step-and-repeat adorned with fake ivy and the names of various sponsors. “Autotrader.” “Compeed.” “LimeLight.” “Kia Optima.”
I did not recognize the first “famous” person—a youngish dark-haired woman wearing plaid and carrying a small dog also wearing plaid—to grace the step-and-repeat. She mentioned to a reporter that she was working on “season four.” Season four of what, we will likely never know. I couldn’t place the next step-and-repeat star, either, though she was giving off a VH1 reality show vibe.
The big “get,” in my eyes, was former Real Housewife of Orange County Gretchen Rossi, who showed up minutes later wearing long blonde extensions, pointy-toed high heels, and a black, lacy dress that was too fancy for the occasion. Her longtime fiancé, Slade, was there too, wearing a blazer and sneakers. Gretchen posed for many photos and then made a beeline for the bar.
No one showed up to pose in front of the step-and-repeat after Gretchen, so we did a couple laps around the Kia STYLE360 NYFW waiting area, which was lined with booths promoting various brands. We took free samples of “Compeed,” which is a line of blister pads for your feet. A few minutes later, a young girl wearing black clothing and a Kia STYLE360 NYFW pass around her neck approached us and asked if we wanted to try some Compeed pads. We said okay—after all, they were free.
A few minutes after that, another girl wearing black approached us and delivered the exact same copy: “Have you heard of Compeed? It’s a very popular brand of blister pads in England.” Instead, we decided it was time to find our seats for the Adam Levine Collection presented by Shop Your Way Brands/Kmart at Kia STYLE360 NYFW runway show.
Kelly: Allie only recognized one nobody at the step-and-repeat, which was somewhat chilling. (Two, if you count the Real Housewife’s fiancé.) (“A snake,” according to Allie.) (I believe it.) The dog girl seemed like she might have just been the owner of a famous dog, but according to Getty she is “Gina Naomi Baez,” and according to her Instagram she is a cancer survivor and “YouTuber w/ @TinkerbelleTheDog.” Here is a great picture of her dog posing at the event:
The Kia STYLE360 NYFW waiting area was an incredibly low-budget idea of a woman’s dream waiting area, if the woman also dreamed of being aggressively marketed to by brands she had no interest in. There were two put-upon women at the Kia station giving people manicures for some reason. A sad person giving foot massages. A station where you could get the tiniest splash of prosecco. A diet cookie booth. Little samples of shampoo that promised “beachy waves” in a bowl. Women basically forcing Compeed blister pads down your fucking throat. It was not enjoyable, but at least Allie and I will be all set when we get our next blisters.
Before the show, everybody had to line up to walk up a concrete staircase into the runway room. There were a lot of people, and nobody seemed particularly chill about their place in the swarm. A sign of things to come.
“It’s not always rainbows and butterflies. It’s compromise that moves us along.” —Maroon 5
Kelly: When we entered the runway space, we were immediately struck by the fact that the chairs surrounding the runway were not the kind of chairs you would be happy or neutral to see, but were instead directors chairs. Action! (Impression of a director.) This frugal aesthetic decision was completely detached from the theme of the collection, and seemed to say, well, uh, you can tell at least that this was a choice. The chairs said, This isn’t the standard. The chairs said, The room didn’t COME with directors chairs.
The directors chairs were not the main seat-related drama, however. When Allie and I approached our seating assignments in the third row, we found two women—possibly a mother and daughter—sitting in our seats. Damnit! They seemed agitated and I overheard one of the men next to them say, “Well, just find the best seats and sit there.” Huh. Everybody in this group displaying some interesting ways to interpret assigned seating.
Allie and I stood there unsure of what to do for a truly excruciating amount of time. The older woman seemed very upset, and we did not want to fight with an upset woman while we were already about to have to watch an Adam Levine Collection runway show—we are human and our shoulders can only bear so much weight. So instead of dealing with the conflict ourselves, we brought our seat assignments to one of the women dressed in black with a headset.
“I think there are people sitting in our seats?” Allie told the woman. You could tell immediately that this woman felt the same way we did about the situation, as her face fell into the same worried expression Allie and I had just spent what seemed like 14 hours silently exchanging with each other. “Umm—ahh, well,” she said, “OK. Let’s—.” This was a very sweet moment. I felt like she was our mom and we just told her someone on the playground was doing something we did not understand but that she knew was somewhat sexual. She took our hands (in spirit) and led us back to the women in our seats and told them they had to move. They did not take this news well. “You invited us, you promised us seats,” the older woman said. “How can you invite someone and not give them a seat?”
Seems rude as hell, but also we were very relieved when they left our seats.
Allie: The effort it took to simply sit down at the Adam Levine Collection presented by Shop Your Way Brands/Kmart at Kia STYLE360 NYFW runway show did not bode well for the rest of our experience. Even once the mother and daughter agreed to get up and move, another bad thing happened: the daughter looked at me, then the free gift that was placed on her (my) chair, then back at me, before shoving it into her purse and leaving. A moment so brutal that I’ll still remember it weeks from now, when I’m taking a shower or doing laundry or something, and shiver. The gift was a 25% off coupon for the Adam Levine Collection at Kmart, good through 9/21/15.
Kelly graciously offered to share her coupon, which the mother had left untouched, with me. Thank you, Kelly.
After our seating fiasco, I thought we could sit back and relax, but I was wrong. 1) It is impossible to sit back and relax in a director’s chair, and 2) there was a lot more drama to come. As a former sorority social chair, I can say that the outright posturing and scheming during the seating portion of this event was unlike anything I’d seen before.
In front of us, two women sat down in seats they clearly knew not to be theirs. “Let’s just sit here,” one said. They were both wearing lipstick and nice shoes and thought they deserved good seats, I guess, but minutes later a headset-wearing assistant came and told them to move. Several seconds passed, each more agonizing than the last, during which they attempted to process this information and gather their things.
Then, behind us, an assistant approached a man and a woman dressed identically in wide-brimmed black hats, black capes, and white shirts, and told them that they were sitting in the wrong seats. This couple huffed and puffed and rolled their eyes as they moved to their assigned seats, which were literally four seats over from where they were sitting. What!!! Just sit in your seat!!!!!!
All of this switching around was happening in the second, third, and fourth rows—the front row remained, for the most part, empty. A few minutes before the show was set to start, someone made an announcement over the loud speaker urging the “front row guests” to take their seats. A lot of people I didn’t know sat down, and then—lucky for us—two former members of Danity Kane took their places near us. The gals, Aubrey O’Day and Shannon Bex, are currently working on their own musical project, “Dumblonde.” (They did not tell me this, I just know what former members of Danity Kane are up to.) Shannon’s boobs looked like they were going to fall out of her tiny dress at any minute, but I guess that was the point. They were the most famous people at the Adam Levine Collection presented by Shop Your Way Brands/Kmart at Kia STYLE360 NYFW runway show, for sure.
Just after the lights went down to start the show, a man approached two men sitting in front of us and told them they were sitting in his seats. It’s true, they were.
“I like to be involved with process rather than just phoning it in. I want to make sure that every stitch is something that I approve of. That’s kind of been a theme amongst all of these enterprises, it’s not just being a name or face behind it, but actually putting the work into it to make it really good and what I love.” —Adam Levine, 2013
Allie: Before we even got to the Kia STYLE360 NYFW venue, Kelly and I suspected that Adam Levine was not going to show up to his own fashion show. This was based on a general feeling and also the fact that Adam Levine did not promote the event on any of his social media accounts. Once again: we were right. At the beginning of the show, a video of Adam Levine apologizing for his absence appeared on a projection screen. He was “sorry, guys,” but he’s “on tour right now.” The video suggested that Adam Levine likes talking to a camera but does not know much about the Adam Levine Collection for Kmart. At the end, he uttered these words, right in a row: “Love you guys. Thank you. Kmart. Awesome clothes. Boom.”
Then Maroon 5’s “Animals” started playing, which segued quickly into Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” A beautiful moment.
The show featured both male and female models, and the inspiration for the collection was clearly “‘90s grunge.” The clothes were neatly pressed and not grungy, however, so the end result was more “Disney Channel Original Movie about Kurt Cobain.”
Everything was muted red and green and black; nothing looked like it was not from Kmart. There were multiple faux leather jackets, sweaters that didn’t quite hang right, and leggings that the average American shopper probably could not wear as pants, as the models were doing.
The models were slightly “alternative” in ways that were deliberate and ways that perhaps were not. One had a chest tattoo; one had a septum piercing. A few walked kind of funny.
During the show I noticed that Aubrey O’Day had somehow gotten ahold of the plaid-wearing YouTube girl’s dog and was playing with it. Gretchen Rossi was playing with her hair extensions.
Kelly: “Love you guys. Thank you. Kmart. Awesome clothes. Boom.” Adam Levine employing straight-up Donald Trump levels of lazy huckstering in that shitty introductory iPhone video. Yup. Clothes. For your body. Buy ‘em. I get a cut. They’re great. Awesome clothes. This motherfucker.
As “Smells Like Teen Spirit” rang out over the speakers, I gasped and grabbed Allie’s arm. Finally—Kurt made it. Sometimes geniuses don’t find an audience for their art until after their death, it’s true, and I’m happy that he can rest in peace knowing that he has finally found his: the audience at the Adam Levine Collection presented by Shop Your Way Brands/Kmart at Kia STYLE360 NYFW runway show. Better to burn out than fade away, indeed.
“Disney Channel Original Movie about Kurt Cobain,” as Allie said, is a spot-on way to describe this runway show. In fact, it would have had more meaning and input from its namesake if it had been the Kurt Cobain Collection for Kmart, because at least Kurt Cobain wore t-shirts and flannel and jeans. What does Adam Levine wear? No shirt, tattoos, and leather pants?! How about design a collection where a skinny dude never puts a shirt on and call that the Adam Levine Collection for Kmart. Design a line of temporary tattoos and call that the Adam Levine Collection for Kmart. (And this is just a little aside, but if you told me all of Adam Levine’s tattoos were temporary I would not only believe you, I would say, “Uh, yeah—I KNOW.”)
Among the parade of grunge, which lasted so long that it is crazy, just a crazy amount of time, way too long to look at models wearing normal shit from Kmart while they walk up and down a thing, there was one two-piece dress that looked like the kind of stuff Taylor Swift wears. Here it is:
Haha. Just kidding, it was impossible to take photos in the room because of the lighting and our seat placement, and there isn’t a picture of it on Getty. You’ll just have to believe me. It was like this.
“Even the sun sets in paradise.” —Maroon 5
Kelly: After showing us 100 hours worth of what must have been just about every single piece of clothing they offer in Kmart, music started blaring from the speakers, as if to shout, “NOPE—STILL MORE!”
At this point, Matt McAndrew, runner-up on The Voice’s seventh season (team Adam), took the “stage.” And, man. I know I am a blogger and it is my job to find the words to express to you what it was like to watch Matt McAndrew pace back and forth on the runway, singing along to a pre-recorded track that no one had ever heard before played over speakers not exactly able to handle the volume of the pre-recorded track, while some other guy in literally a corner played inaudible acoustic guitar for no reason, while an audience seated in directors chairs looked at their iPhones, but I cannot. Not exactly. The best I can do is produce for you a drawing of a face Allie was making when I turned to look at her while Matt McAndrew sang:
Allie and I could not stop giggling during this portion of the show, which made me feel a little guilty. It was at once very loud and DEATHLY quiet, and I have to imagine our giggling was noticeable. But maybe if you don’t want people giggling during your thing, don’t force Matt McAndrew to participate in a hilarious performance that will no doubt haunt him for the remainder of his career. Here’s a short video clip:
[There was a video here]
I think Matt performed two songs. Maybe three. The energy in the room was akin to the energy in an empty room. Matt McAndrew seemed like a nice enough young man, and I felt intensely sad and embarrassed for him. At certain points, he would pump his fist. At other points, he would clap. He began his second song by saying, “Please sing along if you can, all right?” No one took him up on it. Later, during that same song, after singing the chorus multiple times, in perhaps the most devastating moment I have ever witnessed firsthand, he asked the audience to join him, saying: “Everybody sing, come on!”
Silence. Cold, dead, heartbreaking silence.
“How about clapping?” he then asked, as we sank through our directors chairs, the floor, and directly into our graves.
A few people clapped along. Briefly.
Allie: What did Matt McAndrew ever do to Adam Levine and/or Kmart and its subsidiaries and/or Shop Your Way Brands and/or our omniscient God? This performance was a punishment for everyone, but especially for Matt McAndrew, is what I’m saying.
I’ll say this: Matt McAndrew was not an untalented singer. He knew all the notes and lyrics that the audience decidedly did not, and he delivered them to the best of his ability. The performance was not bad, per se; it was wrong.
When he finally finished, over an hour after the start of the Adam Levine Collection presented by Kmart/Shop Your Way Brands at Kia STYLE360 NYFW runway show and many years after the end our natural lives, the house lights still did not come on.
There was one more thing for us to watch: another video of Adam Levine.
During the short clip, Adam enters a room full of Adam Levine Collection for Kmart clothes (the same clothes we have just seen on the runway). He looks at them in practiced awe, exclaiming loudly, “DOOOOOOPPPEE!”
He then pretends to “steal” the clothes, which he is excited to see for the first time.
If only he had bothered to attend the Adam Levine Collection presented by Kmart/Shop Your Way Brands at Kia STYLE360 NYFW runway show, he could have experienced the thrill of seeing this clothing for the very first time alongside the rest of us.