Fashion week is often a complete blur of shows and presentations, cab rides and subway cars, crowds and holding pens, late nights editing and networking events, and unforgivingly early mornings to start the circus all over again. For the working photographers responsible for covering Fashion Week, it takes quite a bit to distinguish one show from the next and more often than not that distinction comes from terrible circumstances included but not limited to terrible lighting, organization, traffic, attitudes, and equipment malfunctions. It is unfortunately rare that we ever have the chance to actually look at the clothes that we photograph, let alone enjoy the shows we cover.
However, every year there are some spectacularly rare and wonderful occasions that surprise even the most callus and veteran photographer. These are the collections that redirect the entire history of fashion, designers who are the visionaries and vanguards of our time, and designers who understand that presentation really is half the battle. Rachel Antonoff has earned a reputation for bringing touches of the theatrical to her seasonal presentations, that actively include her guests as well as her models.
The Saturday of New York Fashion Week was one of those unforgivably early mornings during the middle of fashion week where you no longer know what day of the week it is but you have your schedule memorized, and asking anything more than that is not only cruel but borderline impossible. So protected from the stunning morning light by the limited power of my red Ray Bans I made the trek into the West Village. What greeted me on my arrival was a townhouse that had been transformed into Never-Never Land. There were mermaids in the bathroom, giant tents in the living room that put my childhood forts to shame, and models making s’mores for the attendees. Rachel took the wonderfully unorthodox approach of running with a unifying concept that not only helped to create a memorable experience but also distinguish herself from everyone else in her genre of ready to wear presenting during fashion week. This was as much an exercise in exciting the press as it is a specific branding choice, and in my opinion an extremely successful choice. She is both setting herself apart as she is simultaneously building buzz and a trust around her brand, she is supporting loyalty based on the fact that she is creating something exciting, engaging, and special.