Why do we wear the clothes we do? We dress for the weather, of course, and more specifically we dress for occasions—work, dinner, the beach and so on—but why, as women, do we wear the symbols and colors and fabrics we do? Do we dress more for others than for ourselves?
For SS18, Rachel Comey explored these questions in a very well-received three-part collection which she first showed, appropriately enough, at the Met's sister institution, the Met Breuer. We visited the space her collections come to life in, Rachel's New York City sample room, to learn more about the season. Rachel Comey gave context to the SS18 collection with the following three quotes.
"More people should be dressing like we dress in New York anyway. Not everyone in New York looks great, but you have a higher chance." - Fran Lebowitz
The use of this slightly tongue-in-cheek quote by the outspoken author is no mistake: Fran Lebowitz is both a female force and a New York City icon who has fought over the years for rights she believes in. We all know Fran dresses for herself, and this part of the collection suggests you really should too. There are layers, overdyed hues and a mishmash of materials as varied as jute, lambskin, organza and technical polyamide. The message is: wear what works for you—you don't have to explain yourself to anyone. The world will get the message.
"Who can seem secure enough in their position to look fully unguarded? To not need any of the armor of power—aides or clothes or lawyers or polished shoes." –Vanessa Friedman, from How to Dress Like a Power Player
Building on the first part, Comey makes a strong argument for clothes that make you feel empowered. "A black tailored suit with a sharp shoulder and nipped waist, slashed at the armhole for ease of movement can be as commanding as a full denim look." We couldn't agree more. Elsewhere, there are elements like French cuffs, pintucked pants and crisp poplins in a minimalist palette that come across as functional and contemporary.
"There is really no substitute for experience. You must have experience and be open to experience... most importantly you have to be yourself, be who you are and take time to be open and honest with yourself... If you don't know yourself, you'll never have great style. You'll never really live." –Iris Apfel
The third part goes full on (as if a quote from Iris wasn't a giveaway), and builds even further on the first two. We're fresh off Met Gala season, with its parade of massive cultural statements made via otherworldly geometry and ornamentation. So, it feels quintessentially 2018 to ask what it means to dress for an event in this day and age. Should you "wear an enormous techno organza cape, demand that real estate and pair it with a simple white t-shirt and pintucked black trousers?" That contrast is striking, but it gets to the heart of something true of every Rachel Comey collection ever: "Our pairings are unapologetic, disregarding expectations in favor of the experience of the wearer."