NYC-based designer Rachel Antonoff showed her fall 2015 collection last night, and while the looks were everything we'd hoped from the notoriously cheeky Antonoff (remember last year's Francine Dressler prints or her No Smoking shirt?), this season added an element of subtlety: "I really love to do conversation prints," she tells Racked, "But sometimes I think we hit people over the head with them."
Instead, the collection features clothing that reference your high school biology textbooks—dissected frogs, lungs, a sweater emblazoned with a diagram of ovaries—all disguised as beautiful prints. "The peas are hidden in the mashed potatoes," she explains. "You look at them, and you think you're seeing pretty florals, but you look closely and it's gross organs."
Adding to the bookish, teen vibe: The science fair-themed show took place inside the very high school she once attended, the Professional Children's School, handily located a mere five blocks from Lincoln Center. What's more, the entire collection is based on a fictional story about a college campus love triangle between a student, Fern, and two of her professors, Seymour and Angelica (there's a particularly delightful sweatshirt with the words 'Seymour Pussy'). During the show, we spoke to Rachel about the inspiration behind the biology and botany themes, her favorite go-to stores in the city, and of course, all the tawdry details about that love triangle:
What made you decide to have the presentation inside your former high school?
We really wanted to do the science fair theme, and I'm actually on the board of the school now—which makes me feel very senior to say that—but it just felt like the really obvious thing to do, to do it in a high school. And I thought, ‘Well, what high school is going to have us?' and I was like, ‘Oh, right, that high school that's five blocks from Lincoln Center where I know the principal.'"
Where did the science fair idea come from?
The whole collection is based around the intersection of biology and botany, and we sort of made up a story about these characters who were in a love triangle taking place at a college. It's a student and two teachers. It's very intricate. But it's all very biology- and botany-based. All the prints come from there.
Wow! What's going on with the love triangle?
Fern is the student, and she's having an affair with her biology teacher Seymour, but Seymour's in love with the botany teacher Angelica, who's got a thing for Fern. We don't know how it plays out.
How do you describe the aesthetic of this collection as opposed to your others?
I think the conversation prints are like, the peas are hidden in the mashed potatoes. You look at them, and you think you're seeing pretty florals, but you look closely and it's gross organs. I really love to do conversation prints, but sometimes I think we hit people over the head with them, but I think we tucked them in nicely here. That frog print is actually dissected frogs.
Where are your favorite places to shop in New York?
Everybody loves Creatures of Comfort, but it really is that good. It just is. American Two Shot is one of my all-time favorites. And I love Bloomingdale's.
Back when you went to school here, what was your style like?
Nerdy. I was a total theater kid.
Did you know back then that you wanted to design clothes?
No. I had no idea I wanted to do this until I was doing it, and I thought, ‘Oh, maybe I'm good at this.' And maybe I am, I don't know!