"You flew all the way out here to see a bunch of clothes!?" asked my lucid taxi driver on the way from Newark into Manhattan, as I explained to me why I was in town. I had no real line of defense other than a feeble "Well when you put it like that…" There have always been murmurings in amongst English journos that NYFW does often feel like just a "bunch of clothes" – the simplistic conclusion that the shows favour commercial product over creativity. Nothing wrong with the former of course especially when they are genuinely well-loved as clothes made for day-to-day living. Rachel Comey makes those sort of clothes but not necessarily for your average girl on the street. Her clothes attract creatively-minded, independent-thinking and maybe for want of a better word, just a tad highbrow. Case in point, in an SUV transporting friends of Comey's over to her show last night, I overheard a smattering of Werner Herzog quotes and a mini discussion about Cindy Sherman.
Comey's approach to her show this season also seemed to centre around that creative profile of her girl. We were transported to Red Hook, Brooklyn, to the magnificent Pioneer Works, a not-for-profit art institution housed in a Victorian iron works building, opened by Brooklyn artist Dustin Yellin. It's cathedral like in its proportions but edged with rough n' ready wild gardens, nooks and crannies. It was quite the magical treat to land in from New York and sip on tarragon n' gin drinks at sunset in a location that is most designers in New York wouldn't think of attempting to take their guests to. The whole affair felt rooted and incredibly personal to Comey, with a guestlist that wasn't necessarily editor-heavy but instead, you had the likes of CIndy Sherman, Rashida Jones, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Zosia Mamet (couldn't fangirl the lot of them but did manage to sheepishly grab a pic with "Shosh") present in amongst Comey's circle of friends. There is much to be said for having more shows and presentations in New York, where you get a real sense of the designer clued in by everything from venue choice to guest list and down to every bit of minutiae such as the flower arrangements and amuse bouche choices.
Accompanied by the lounge voice of Justin Vivian Bond, the show was split up into three parts, sandwiched between delicious courses of food by supper club Dinner Bell. It vaguely ran the gamut from daywear to Comey's version of sexiness as the models slipped in and out between the tables making you feel like you were in a restaurant, spotting girls who just happened to look great. Everything felt light, carefree and never overwrought as befitting the sort of clothes that Comey does. Better yet, guests were offered the opportunity to tick sheet their preferences hence why models walked the show with old school couture number cards. The easygoing trenches, feather-fluttered top, distressed denim and the exaggerated marble print got our table's vote. If the show wasn't generous enough in spirit, then a sifully plump triple layered sponge cake and a hit of Scotch rounded the evening off nicely.