Creatures of the Wind presented its fall show on Thursday afternoon with unexpected grandeur: Models wearing the collection filed out from a curtained stage onto a lush red carpet, turning in graceful loops beneath a stained-glass ceiling and a gilded, golden balcony.
The way designers Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters found the space, though, was much more humble: “I Google searched,” Gabier said with a laugh after the show. “When I saw the photos of this, I was like, 'Oh, it’s got to be in deep Queens or something,' and I saw the address and was like, 'How could that possibly be?' We walk past the entrance coming off the F train every day to our studio, and we’ve never really known this was here.”
The venue in Flatiron now houses mostly offices, but originally it was the somewhat-secret Freemasons Society's companion to a nearby Masonic Temple, which was demolished in 1910. Gabier heard the theater space hadn’t been used by the fashion crowd since the ‘90s, making the models’ final walk-through to a string quartet’s rendition of Nirvana’s “Lithium” all the more fitting.
The rest of the music, which included more strings organized by Wladimir Schall, was “semi-inspired” by the space, too, Gabier said. A spoken word piece at the beginning harked back to when the designers first visited the space, which, though empty, echoed with disembodied voices from other parts of the building.
“The whole idea with the collection this season is about harmony as opposed to dissonance,” Gabier said. “We just wanted overall to create something that was very beautiful.”
That included, of course, the clothes: Models wore lacy camisoles embellished with Swarovski crystals and coats trimmed with silvery rabbit fur; their lips cherry red at the center, their hair parted into tight pigtail braids, and their ears adorned with vintage silver earrings sourced from Mexico.
From the golden light to the cups of goji berry tea served in miniature mugs, there was one thing in sharp contrast to the collection’s softness and the room’s intimacy: the show’s title, Knife. “That was a Carl Aubock reference,” Gabier said, name-checking the Viennese artist, graphic designer, and furniture-maker who worked mostly in the ‘40's and ‘50's. “He did these beautiful paper and envelope knives with this super shiny chrome finish, but then they were wrapped in leather with this really beautiful stitch. So it was about the idea of something kind of modern, but wrapped in this natural, more human material.” Sort of like uncovering a mysterious society's meeting place with a Google search.