Rachel Antonoff Fall 2021 Ready-to-Wear Collection

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The term “brand DNA” has been bandied about a lot during the pandemic. Designers the world over want to go back to their roots to prove the strength of their original ideas—and to offer something consistent and timeless at sales. But few do “brand DNA” with the fascinating kitsch and beautiful strangeness of Rachel Antonoff. For fall she’s reworked many of her classic shapes, including full skirted mini- and midi-dresses, animal and food pattern intarsia crewnecks, rainbow puffers, velour jumpsuits, and sweet dinette dresses. Doubling down on the concept, she cast herself and her family—mom Shira, dad Rick, brother Jack, and dog Lafitte—in her lookbook, which was photographed by Jack’s girlfriend, Carlotta Kohl.

Rachel’s name might be the one on the label, but her brand has always had a group project energy about it, with her family never far out of frame. The already close bunch became closer during COVID, forming a pod and popping from their Northern New Jersey home to Jack and Rachel’s apartment in Brooklyn to a house on the Jersey Shore. All the Antonoffs together again under different roofs took Rachel back to high school and her neighborhood carpool, thinking about the chaotic ways moms would dress to scurry the kids to school: a red robe with patterned leggings or nice top and sweatpants, neither of which are not too far from the Zoom dressing we’ve grown accustomed to over the past year.

Even with nostalgic nods to her own past, Antonoff’s idea of fashion remains of-the-moment. Her irreverence is her best quality; she’s not afraid to have a nude man doing the splits drawn into a toile, knit a white fluffy cat into a sweater dress, or stick some rhinestones on to the cowboy boots her dad wears with a leopard print velour tracksuit. It’s not serious. It’s not stuffy. But it is fashion. In one image, Antonoff stands in her childhood bedroom beside her dog Lafitte wearing a checkerboard cardigan and pink quilted miniskirt, clothes cascading out of a dresser behind her and album covers tacked to the wall. When so much of fashion delivers a just-out-of-reach aspiration—the life not lived—it’s refreshing to see fashion that represents a life well lived and loved.

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