Picture this: You are arriving at Henry Street Settlement Theater on Grand Street for what you think is the typical fashion show. After you give your name at the door, you’re crunched into a tiny lobby while identically-dressed young women serve blood orange cocktails from a table that’s too crowded to approach despite being only five feet away. Suddenly, without fanfare, the doors to the theater are unbarred. You are pushed inside to see… well! What is this? Cameras flash.
A dozen models are strewn across the theatrical stage in a way that at first seems casual but on closer inspection is clearly carefully planned. Clad in Rachel Antonoff’s supremely wearable collection, the waifish women are divided into light and dark, members of the Enchanted and Disenchanted Forests, respectively. Audience members were invited to climb on stage and circle the display to get a closer look.
“The inspiration for the entire thing was ‘putting on a show,’ and I thought what better show but the kind with an enchanted forest?” said the pixie-ish Antonoff of her vision.
“And where there’s an enchanted forest, there must be a disenchanted forest.” But which does she prefer? “I’m kind of partial to the disenchanted forest – they’re so wonderfully bitchy.”
From the wafting brass band music to the trappings old time-y Broadway (models walked a balance beam, mimed piano playing, and dueled with wooden swords), the show strongly called forth images of the 1937 musical Babes in Arms. But the most significant homage to the post WWI era was the clothing. High-waisted “fanny” shorts – which tend to evoke feelings of dread in females less reedy than here – looked both chic and eminently wearable. One model sported a detailed foam green cardigan that would not have looked out of place on her grandmother. That’s a compliment- it was classically beautiful.