Rachel Comey made a welcome return to New York Fashion Week Wednesday afternoon, choosing as her runway the curiously named Shinbone Alley in NoHo with historic 19th-century town houses turned multimillion-dollar lofts on either side.
The collection celebrated Joan Jonas, the 87-year-old multimedia artist who began living and working in the neighborhood 50 years ago, long before it gentrified, and sat front row looking a bit baffled by the fashion sampling of her career, from her line drawings to her use of mirrors as props for performance.
More from WWD
“She’s got this incredible catalogue of work and ephemera around her expression and practice that we have been playing with making textiles,” Comey said of designing the pieces, some incorporating Jonas’ video and performance stills.
A major focus of the artist’s work has been exploring portrayals of female identity, and Comey did that on the runway, with dresses trimmed in fairy tale-like red flowers or constructed from gorgeous fraying pieces of metallic lace, in glossy black (Latex maybe?) cut skin tight, or in billowing white cotton shirting gathered and tucked just so to highlight the curve of the thighs.
A peplum jacket was worn over a mirrored silver miniskirt and knee-high boots Taylor Swift style, while a boxy knit polo and cardigan over pleated pants and square-toed loafers played to a different sort.
The sum total was a collection true to Comey’s unwavering vision to see every woman.
It was commercial, yes, (she designs some of the coolest denim out there, including this season’s pale yellow waist-cinched top and jeans, and is expanding her business with a new company president and San Francisco store opening soon). But it was also subversive in its determination to connect fashion to New York’s artistic legacy and reflect that back for the creatives who love her clothes. Comey did that literally when the last model came out carrying a full-length mirror under her arm, letting guests see themselves as she walked by.
The collection and show were “tributes to Jonas, but moreover to all those like her who experience and communicate their worlds with sensitive body-mind awareness,” the notes read. Comey is surely one of them.
Launch Gallery: Rachel Comey RTW Spring 2024
Best of WWD