Designer Rachel Antonoff has built a cult following with her quirky and bold prints, theatrical presentation, and intricate themes. Following her first exclusive capsule collection with Gwynnie Bee, her summer 2017 collection is filled with bold prints in feminine cuts, featuring lipstick swatches, watercolor cactuses, and even a hidden Dolly Parton.
Rachel recently stopped by our Pop Up Experience here in NYC for a a charming Q&A, hosted by blogger Allie McGevna. Read on to hear her thoughts on working with prints, designing for plus, and how she feels about the word “should”.
Allie McGevna: Tell us about your second collaboration with Gwynnie Bee and how it came about!
Rachel Antonoff: We adore working with GB, literally everyone at the company is a lovely, awesome person. One thing that we particularly love about working with them: some things that are our favorite things, don’t necessarily get picked up by stores because we’re told “Oh, that print is too wild”… but [Gwynnie Bee]’s into it! We really appreciate that. We have so much fun working with them because we get to play with all our favorite prints and don’t have to sensor ourselves.
Allie: Speaking of prints, I’m wearing this beautiful dress from the collection! Obviously this has a lot of color and vibrancy – tell me about the rest of the collection and what we can expect.
Rachel: Our prints all come from a narrative and sometimes they’re bizarre and intricate but they make sense to us. So, this print is a lipstick tester print – we literally scanned in some lipstick swatches to create this one.
Allie: So these are real lipstick colors?!
Rachel: Oh yeah!
Rachel: One of my other favorite prints is actually called “Narrative Print” because it’s a full story. We have different characters in it. We’ve got Dolly Parton in it, we’ve got Annelle (the character from Steel Magnolias) in it… so many little details bopping around this print.
Allie: Often, when people think about plus size clothing, there is this fear of prints and an idea of what you “should” or “shouldn’t” wear. Talk to me about collaborating with a brand that’s really encouraging you to do the prints you’re so well-known for.
Rachel: One of the things I’ve always struggled with, working in fashion, is this idea that you “should” anything. Almost anything that follows the words “you should…” is not something I’m going to want to do. And why “should” anybody do anything? That feels very body shame-y and it’s really awesome that GB is not going with that.
Allie: Why do you think a lot of designers seem to still drag their feet when it comes to working with a plus size consumer?
Rachel: You know, we talk about this in the office, and we don’t know! It comes back to a larger “we don’t know”, which is: why does fashion, which could be this great, wonderful, confidence building, wearable art, fun thing, sometimes become this serious, elitist, exclusionary thing? I think that fashion is better than that, at its core… I think [plus size] is a neglected category and it’s a shame.
Allie: if you had a dream woman to dress, who would that look like?
Rachel: Someone who is dressing for herself. Someone who is excited about clothes, in the way that we all used to be when what you put on that day dictated a fun character you were going to be that day – I think that’s a time we were truly dressing for ourselves.
Thanks for joining us, Rachel! Closet from her new collection now and keep an eye out for more charming pieces to come, as we’ll be launching them in the following weeks.