Rachel Comey returned to Los Angeles to show another delightful midseason collection — last year it was pre-fall and this year it was resort, or what she labels “pre-spring 2019.”
Instead of creating her collection from afar, packing it up models and all, and dropping into L.A., Comey was more authentic in her California creation. When scouting locations for her pre-fall show at Hauser & Wirth gallery in the downtown Los Angeles Arts District, she came upon the historic Bullocks Wilshire department store, which has long since closed, though the Art Deco building has been restored and now serves as the Southwestern University Law School campus.
“The venue definitely informed the collection,” said Comey, who was struck by its beauty and “always had it in the back of my mind” to do something with it.
With that as a starting point, she looked back to Bullocks’ glory days when Helen Gurley Brown worked there as a secretary, and before that, when Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich would buy their androgynous wares from the luxury store’s men’s department.
Not that Comey took anything too literally; she stayed true to her own arty, downtown aesthetic — slouchy tops paired with cool girl trousers and midi-length skirts, doses of tailored denim and cozy outerwear — while jazzing it up with references to Old Hollywood such as maribou feathers, silk taffeta and tulle, which she used sparingly but to great effect as embellishment on simple silhouettes or hand-wrought details on top of said embellishment.
Her colorful fringed skirt paired with a fancy sweatshirt, or a zebra-print denim nip-waist jacket with a marabou collar brightened the spirit, as did the purple and blue or black and yellow plaid tailored wool pieces that looked retro and modern.
Comey is also a designer who considers the whole picture, and deliberately shows in L.A. in support of her Melrose Place boutique and the strong client base she has here, many of whom were also at the show, along with cool-kid celebrity fans Aubrey Plaza, Ever Carradine, Zoe Lister-Jones, Fuschia Kate Sumner and Jason Schwartzman.
“It’s November-December deliveries and the holidays, which in L.A. is a different experience, so I was thinking not necessarily about the red carpet, but all the other events that go around it. There’s a lot of shopping that happens in our store at that time so I wanted to think about those customers and at same time get into these frivolous and delicate things that I’m not working with on the regular, and think about how I could make it ours,” she explained.
Comey’s last segment of the 40 looks also focused on her version of “black-tie” dressing, e.g.; white jackets with beaded fishnet skirts, or a striped feather cocktail dress.
Said Comey, “My alternative to tuxedos is black and white, but in different proportions. I try to do things with a reason so everyone involved can come with all the reference and put them together and build something that’s honest and unique.”