The unofficial official start to New York Fashion Week kicked off two days before the CFDA’s sanctioned calendar with Rachel Comey’s dinner party/fashion show staged in no less spectacular a setting than Flora Bar at the Met Breuer. Comey, who has held similar dinner shows before, usually at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn, knows that there is no other night on the schedule when she could get away with serving her collection in three sections over a lengthy three-course dinner. She probably also knew that such crafty pacing was the only way to make many of her professionally obligated guests stay for the duration of the dinner, even though the food by Thomas Carter and Ignacio Mattos was extraordinary by restaurant standards and unheard-of by most fashion event standards.
Seated among the industry professionals were members of Comey’s personal clique of quirky demi-celebrities including Gaby Hoffmann and her sister Alexandra Auder, Sandra Bernhard, Molly Ringwald, Ben Sinclair of “High Maintenance,” Lindsey Adelman, Dan Barber of Blue Hill, and Carter, co-owner of the Flora Bar.
To anyone who got caught up in the ambience, the meal and the table talk, the clothes became a side dish to some extent. Comey divided the collection into three parts, the first an illustration of dressing for yourself that included a curvy red-and-black-checked, off-the-shoulder dress and a sweatshirt over a long fringed skirt. The second was her version of power dressing, “for when you go into the room and all your contemporaries are white old men, so you need to be heard,” she said. She made her voice known with redone, feminized tailoring, including jackets and pants broken up with flowy oversize tops. The third range was attire meant for an event like a fashion-show dinner held at a relatively new contemporary art museum — eclectic yet cool and casual, such as a billowing black-and-silver-jacquard halter dress worn over jeans.
Between the snow crab, tuna tartare and, say, a conversation about a bear breaking into the basement of one of Comey’s upstate neighbors, it was entirely possible to miss a look or two or even a whole section. But it was even more likely that everyone left with a complete, charming impression of Comey’s world and her brand. And that, jargon be damned, is what is called a good experience.