Given that their last campaign starred models having unsimulated sex, it’s perhaps no surprise that the only room used in designers Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta’s latest project for their label Eckhaus Latta is a bathroom.
This time, though, the models hardly had the chance to get frisky. Coco, their latest video collaboration in partnership with the Berlin- and L.A.-based filmmaker Alexa Karolinski, whose trailer is premiering exclusively here, stars the label’s usual suspects, like Juliana Huxtable and India Menuez, plus a newer, always diverse roster of names, from the collector Ethan Wagner to the ceramicist-turned-acupuncturist Graham Marks. Also among the cast was Thea Westreich, a collector who owns an office in Soho, which is where Eckhaus, Latta, and Karolinski set up shop, leaving each model alone in the bathroom.
With the door closed, shutting out even the director of photography, models were left completely alone, save for the tools to take things into their own hands: a camera on a tripod and a list of index cards with prompts that solicited meandering thoughts on everything from true love to trans identity to, in the case of Menuez, memories of her family's dairy farm in Iceland.
The results? “Actual reality TV,” as Latta put it, in the vein of the sessions they first started two years ago at a dinner at Karolinski’s house, where a DSLR was set up in the bathroom for guests to take a break from the crowd to say a confessional that was to be preserved on a memory card for the next 10 years.
This time, the monologues are getting a much more public airing: from this Thursday until August, the 40-minute film, which was named Coco after Marks’s first love, a Dachshund, will be on loop inside New York’s Museum of Arts and Design as a part of its “fashion after Fashion” exhibition, which features six designers that are thinking, and making the institution think, about fashion anew. It’s not the first time the brand’s videos have gotten museum treatment: Smile, their spring 2016 collection video, was even featured in the Hammer Museum’s "Made in L.A." biennial.
Still, their fledgling films have come a long way from 2012, just a year after they started their brand on the Lower East Side, and a friend introduced them to Karolinski because she thought they might share sensibilities with someone who, as Eckhaus put it, “made this insane video about her grandmother.”
Clearly, she wasn’t wrong: instead of deciding on an initial project together to test the waters, shortly after they met, “we got really ambitious and were like, let’s make 10!” Latta recalled of their original brainstorming session, which actually started with 20 ideas (and which the group still holds, often, as Karolinski added, over “FaceTime with a glass of wine.”)
It’s a partnership all are clearly committed to, from twice yearly videos for each of the brand’s collections to shooting even when one of them was getting married (one of their films was shot over a honeymoon weekend in Berlin). It was hardly the first time they picked an unlikely location: among their oeuvre are home videos following two friends in what Latta called “pretty robust looks” around Home Depot, and a 45-minute film of another friend dancing in a far-off warehouse.
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