It might have been easy, at first, to miss the clothes amid everything else at Rag & Bone’s Fall 2017 presentation Thursday evening. On the occasion of the brand’s 15th anniversary, creative director Marcus Wainwright, still newly solo after the departure of David Neville from the brand last June, decided to stage a guerrilla-style presentation in lieu of the usual runway show. He filled an expansive gallery space in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District with large-scale Polaroid portraits of actors, artists, models, and musicians, photographed by Glen Luchford and Frank Lebon on a vintage (“technically obsolete,” according to the show notes) camera using film just on the precipice of expiration. It lent the images a dreamy, sun-dappled quality, a slight glow around the edges.
Many of the guests themselves, braving the blizzard on the first official night of New York Fashion Week, were featured on the gallery walls, too, for this was the conceit of the presentation: From Keri Russell to Amber Valletta, Freja Beha Erichsen to Thom Yorke, each of the subjects arrived clad in the same looks they wore in their portraits. Here was hair stylist Duffy, clad in a black trench, holding his iPhone out to snap a shot of his likeness; there was Selah Marley, in a grey sweat suit with red snakeskin stilettos, gamely posing next to her own. A few wore beanies embroidered with variations on their names, like seasonally appropriate team uniforms: “Marley S.,” “Sasha P.,” “Smalls.” Around the perimeter strolled Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, gazing in wonder at a video projection of kids doing parkour on one wall.
“Hideous,” Rhys said of his own portrait. (“We like the others, though,” Russell interjected.) “Viewing your own image, subjectively, you go, ‘Oh…’” he lamented.
“Someone surely does,” Russell said. Rhys cringed. “I hope not,” he said. “A small part of me will die--my hope of humanity.”
They had just shot their portraits the previous night, immediately following a day on set (they’re a couple on and off screen, currently appearing on The Americans), as did Dutch model Freja Beha Erichsen, who hovered near the bar nursing a beer. Selah Marley, the model daughter of Lauryn Hill and Rohan Marley, had stopped by for her portrait on Tuesday, and on Thursday, the fashion week novice was still reeling from her surreal surroundings. Everything, she said, was dope, as she moved around the room with a clutch of friends.
“It was a dope shoot,” she said. And the modeling world, her new sphere? “It’s dope. It’s definitely an adventure.” She was just dipping her toe in fashion week; the next morning, she’d be off to Haiti.
She wasn’t the only one opting out of fashion week after the first night. It was artist and actress Tali Lennox’s birthday, so she did a few laps of the room, clad in a tweed miniskirt and oversized, wire-framed glasses, before darting out to catch her friends in Splashh play the Bowery Ballroom.
“I started celebrating last night, though, so already I’m exhausted,” she said. Though she’s walked for the likes of Acne, Burberry, and Prada, she put her runway days behind her a couple years ago to refocus her energy on her art, and now film; Rag & Bone aside, she just finished an immersive show at the Chelsea Hotel and wrapped a shoot on her first feature film.
Friends old and new, but especially old, filled the room: Erichsen starred in Rag & Bone’s Fall 2016 campaign, and she’s walked the runway for the brand several times since its inception, making her something of a veteran collaborator of Wainwright. Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, who played a DJ set towards the end of the party in the next room, previously soundtracked Rag & Bone’s Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, and Spring 2017 shows. Russell and Rhys are Wainwright’s neighbors; their kids attend school together.
“They only wear soccer outfits, so the fact that they’re in something other than soccer uniforms…” Russell trailed off, while Wainwright’s children, clad in neat jackets and trousers, peak Rag & Bone, roamed the floor nearby. “How much did you pay them?” Rhys wondered. (Noah Wainwright is credited in the show notes as “future basketball player.”) “Unless it’s got a soccer emblem or it’s incredibly synthetic, they won’t wear it.”
On the one gallery wall that wasn’t occupied by portraits, a large black arrow pointed down a corridor. “A Damn Good Party,” the instructions read in all-caps. Along the hall, a few more images hung. Joan Smalls held court as model friends came and went. Inside, the damn-good party was fuelled by a taco cart and Suntory, Bill Murray’s drink of choice; Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich was the warmup act for the man himself, who relinquished the hand of new girlfriend Dajana Roncione to take over the DJ booth just after 9:30. (He arrived armed with a plate of snacks, which he nibbled as he flipped switches and knobbled knobs on his board.)
As I turned to go towards the end of Yorke’s set, I ran into Aluna Francis, the musician and singer for electronic outfit AlunaGeorge. She stared up at the DJ booth, enraptured, letting out a small sigh of ecstasy when Yorke layered a saxophone line over the ambient music that filled the room. Damn good party, indeed.
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