In the new age of social media, designers are devising new ways to cut through the clutter at New York Fashion Week. The latest to join the crowd is Rag & Bone, which, instead of a traditional fashion show to celebrate its 15th anniversary, hosted a big exhibition and "a damn good party" in a warehouse in New York's Meatpacking District.
More than 60 notables were photographed in Rag & Bone's fall winter collection by noted British fashion photographer Glen Luchford and art director/photographer Frank Lebon. Luchford shot the photos on a massive 20x24 Polaroid (only eight still remain in the world), while Lebon shot on film and then layered onto collages. The eclectic cast ranged from the brand’s first employee to celebrities like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Carmelo Anthony, and Keri Russell.
Rag & Bone designer Marcus Wainwright welcomed Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour, who braved the snow and cold to attend, along with Russell and her main squeeze and fellow The Americans actor Matthew Rhys, Baryshnikov with former ballerina Lisa Rinehart, and models Amber Valleta and Joan Smalls.
Smalls, wearing a camouflage jacket from the Rag & Bone fall 2017 collection, posed by her photo, where she was wearing the same jacket. The party had a political aspect, too, as Wintour wore a big pin with the words, "Fashion Stands With Planned Parenthood," and Wainwright said he woke up the morning after Donald Trump was elected president and thought "We can't do a fashion show."
"I didn’t really know why but it just didn’t feel right," he said in an interview with writer Lou Stoppard. "I’m happy we made that decision because it just seems odd in some way to do a show now – culturally, it just doesn’t feel relevant to me. It’s valid for other brands – but for us, it felt tone deaf to do a show."
Instead, he came up with the idea of an exhibition of photo portraits, thinking "maybe fashion photography should be more about the person you’re taking the photo of – their style and character – than it should be about the brand creating an image around a mannequin. I’ve always been interested in brands that are born from the people, ones that celebrate the individual, rather than ones that offer a projected image of a customer that they wish they had."
After viewing the exhibit, guests followed a big signing pointing to "A Damn Good Party," which lived up to its name. Everyone at the affair was young and model beautiful, the music by DJs Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich and Kris Bones made you want to dance, and Tacombi tacos served from a truck tasted just as good as tacos in Texas (and we should know).
And waiters passed through the room with free Shake Shack burgers, urging the crowd to take one. Even the notoriously food-shy crowd couldn't help themselves. We spotted Smalls and others eagering downing a burger. Who says models don't eat?