"Nothing is as it seems with me", proclaimed the fashion contrarian Telfar Clemens before his men's show, nearly a week after the other New York men's collections had wrapped up. Going against the grain is par for the course for the Queens native and resident, who seems to revel in his outer-borough outsiderness and antiestablishment instincts. Which is why, when he said this would be his most formal collection to date, one couldn't help but wonder if he was being coy, dressing up his DIY street style in arch terminology. But no, the designer has always played with notions of normal to create a new formal -and vice versa. By way of example, he tugged on a horizontal stripe on a model's shirt to show that it doubled as a pocket. Functional equals formal in his world. Similarly, slacks were made from three layers of simple cotton jersey (tee-shirt material), their raw edges exposed at the seams to reveal their three colors -black, white, and brown, the only colors in the collection. Jersey was also transformed into overcoats and tracksuits. But most strikingly, Telfar Clemens knitted strands of it into bulky sweaters, their sleeves taking on giant lobster-claw proportions, as well as brimmed hats and leg warmers. As the models walked, a woman's exaggeratedly posh voice itemized each look, like they used to do at fashion shows when they were more formal affairs. Without music to give hints to the designer's mood, it felt artificial and generic, not unlike fast-food uniforms -with good reason. Telfar Clemens was asked to design the uniforms for White Castle, in celebration of the budget burger chain's 95th anniversary. Keeping it simple, naturally, he came up with a polo and jeans, which he put on the runway tonight. The Berlin Biennale has called, too, requesting uniforms for their curators and staff. It's an interesting approach, embracing extreme banality. But if Telfar Clemens' refusal to indulge in flamboyance or excessive flourish seems false or calculated, consider his charming and very genuine editing process. "If my mom and my aunt agree it's a nice shirt", he said, earnestly, "then I believe it's a nice shirt and it stays in".