Proenza for the People
- Model, Chloe Sevigny
- Styled by Haley Wolens
- Makeup by Ingeborg
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Only a year and a half after launching Café Forgot in an effort to provide a platform for budding creatives to showcase their work, this imaginative duo is demonstrating that transience can pack a punch just as powerful one shop at a time. Lou Dallas, Kahle, Marland Backus, Martina Cox, and Auto Body Clothing are just some of the emerging labels these ladies have represented, and while the talent couldn’t be more aesthetically diverse, the flare, quirk and originality their work bestows upon the present ho-hum fashion climate is one and the same.
Upon entering one of their expertly-curated and funky spaces it becomes wholly evident that Haas and Weisner couldn’t give less of a shit about trends. They're in the business of providing clothing that moves them, clothing that tells a story, clothing that makes you double take for all the right—and occasionally raunchy—reasons. With all this in mind, office sat down with the girls over some coffee to chat about other iconic female duos, like Romy and Michelle, and the future of Café Forgot.
Tell me a little about Café Forgot—how did it happen? How did you guys join forces?
Lucy Weisner: Actually, we attended high school and college together, and we would always talk about doing some sort of collaborative fashion project. I feel like it morphed into what it is now because we had a lot of friends who were making clothes and other things when we moved back to New York. I felt like there wasn’t really a place for their work in NY in this way, and we just wanted to support our friends who were creating clothes.
Vita Haas: Since I was really young, I’ve loved the idea of working in a shop and having my own shop in this very traditional way. You remember when you were little and you used to allocate different tasks to all of your friends when you were playing? My friend Marland makes furniture, so I thought she could make furniture for our space, and Sosa makes dresses, so she can make some dresses for us, and so on. Then it all just became a reality, which was really cool because it was something we had been thinking about for such a long time.
What was the concept behind the title?
Vita Haas: It’s a nail polish color, the name of an Essie shade. Nail polishes have really fun names—'Hot Date,' 'Bahama Mama...'
Those sound like girl's night drinks.
Vita Haas: Yeah, exactly! Just crazy, funky, weird names, and we wanted our name to be just as playful. So, we started looking through them. It took a really long time to find a name—at one point we were deciding between five different options. Then we just said, 'Oh fuck it, Café Forgot is a horrible name but we’ll do it.' Now, we love it.
Lucy Weisner: I feel like we made an intuitive decision. At the time, we thought, 'Whatever, it is what it is,' but now, looking back, it makes a lot of sense because it lends the project this ambiguity. Café Forgot is a shop, but we also want it to be a place where people can hang out—the space morphs into so many different things. So, I think it flows perfectly with the vagueness of the title.
Vita Haas: Yeah, [the word] café designates a communal-type space, but also something fleeting and ephemeral. When we first started out I was like, 'Ugh, everyone’s gonna be like 'Where’s the coffee?'' But surprisingly, we don’t get that too much, and I’m so grateful for that. God that would be such a bitch!
Lucy Weisner: Plus, it’s pretty funny to tell the people who ask that we ran out.
Vita Haas: We’ve had performances, we’ve had a wine bar, and we want to have a punk show. We want to do so many other things but because of the name, we will never have coffee.
Liken your partnership to an iconic TV or movie duo.
Lucy Weisner & Vita Haas: Oooh! Romy and Michele, from Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.
Vita Haas: It’s pretty much a biopic about our lives.
Lucy Weisner We were them for Halloween. The premise is also campy in this way that I can really aesthetically appreciate.
Vita Haas: I’m trying to think of another duo...there’s that Mary-Kate and Ashley quote that you literally say everyday—it’s a quote about their process of working together, and Lucy and I relate to it so much. I can’t remember it word for word, but it has to do with trusting your intuition and how things naturally come together when you do.
I love how in sync you two are. What animal captures the spirit of Café Forgot?
Lucy Weisner: I’m thinking a unicorn.
Vita Haas: Yeah, maybe a butterfly because it’s this delicate, fleeting creature. We had a Spring shop last April and it reminded me of the butterfly room at the Natural History Museum. I don’t think they have it anymore, but that’s probably better for the butterflies.
Lucy Weisner: I think that makes a lot of sense. I guess I was just thinking of a unicorn because it’s not a real animal—it’s a fantasy, a mythical creature. I think of My Little Pony and weird little things like that aligning a lot with the energy and aesthetic of Café Forgot.
Vita Haas: Yeah—colorful, childish and funky.
What’s worse, the fear of success or the fear of failure?
Vita Haas: Fear of failure—I love success!
Lucy Weisner: The fear of failure, although sometimes it’s good to be uncomfortable. Today we were just talking about the fact that there are so many parts of this process—we have to be so patient with a lot of people all of the time, and that’s kind of an uncomfortable feeling. You don’t know if everything is going to work out or how they’re going to work out, yet in the end, things tend to work out just fine. You just never know.
Vita Haas: In terms of success, as our project gets bigger, we definitely want to make sure not to lose sight of the core ideas of the project—supporting young designers, having fun, et cetera. We’re still figuring all that out—there is a little bit of fear in figuring out how to maintain the ideas that gave this project life.
Did you think it was going to be this successful when you first started out?
Lucy Weisner: I don’t know what I was anticipating. Initially, I think we both thought that we were going to have one temporary shop and then open a permanent space—we didn’t anticipate the form it was going to take.
Vita Haas: I didn’t expect to open up a permanent space right after our temporary shop. We still want to have one, but I didn’t know that our journey towards that final goal would take the form of so many other shops.
Lucy Weisner: And I didn’t think that these temporary shops would be as legible to an audience as a permanent space would be, if that makes sense. In that regard, the success of the project at this point is surprising in terms of people being so responsive to what I had initially viewed as this intermediary state between what Café Forgot is now and what we want it to become—I think people really like the form it’s taken.
Cool. Describe the outfit that you would like to die in.
Vita Haas: I love these questions! One of our designers, Sophie Andes Gascon, makes these super delicate, beaded pieces. I want her to make me a dress for when I get married and I want her to make me a dress for when I die—a dark black dress by Sophie.
Lucy Weisner: For some reason, I immediately think of Lou Dallas—I don’t know why. This is kind of weird, but Vita and I have the same nightgown—I’m thinking of sleep and death as being one in the same right now. The nightgown has this medieval aesthetic in the same way some Lou Dallas pieces do. The fabrics that she uses have this regal and highly decorative quality to them. So, something like the nightgown but with a little more embellishment to it.
If you did make a New Year’s resolution, which one are you most excited to break? Or have you already broken it?
Vita Haas: Did I even make a New Year’s resolution? Oh, well I decided I wanted to make my bed every day and I’ve kind of broken it—I tend to half-make my bed.
Lucy Weisner: I literally just pulled up a list of New Year's resolutions—I’m very serious about them! Some of them are pretty personal. I haven’t necessarily broken this one because it’s more of a process, but I want to stop apologizing for being, and to assert myself more in situations. I want to remind myself that I have the right to exist in certain places, even if I feel uncomfortable and it gives me anxiety to be there. In some ways, I’ve broken this resolution a little bit because I haven’t quite followed through [with it], but at least I have this whole year to work on it.
Vita Haas: Now I’m rethinking mine. My friend calls it potty-texting—like when you text a boy but you’re pooping, so you literally shit out whatever because you’re bored. I feel like guys do that to me sometimes and I don’t like it, so I don’t want to engage with it anymore.
I know a lot of the designers you carry are your friends, which makes the process somewhat easier, but how do you guys go about selecting new talent for the shops? What qualities make you want to work with someone?
Lucy Weisner: A lot of people, as you said, are friends, and many others we find through Instagram, or they’ve reached out to us. Sometimes I’ll even meet people and they'll tell me about the stuff they’re working on, and I’ll go check it out, and that snowballs into a larger conversation. Other times, simply over email—there are just so many different channels out there to get in touch with people. A few have come to the pop-ups as customers, or to hang out, and happen to design themselves. It’s nice to have all of these different kinds of interactions.
Vita Haas: I also find that when somebody really likes the project and loves the clothes, the process can be pretty self-selecting in that way. It’s a niche project, so when people express interest, I’m always down to see what they have and what they want to contribute.
Learn more about Café Forgot and check for their upcoming pop-ups here.
The show’s location was no random choice, either. Held at a church in Westminster’s St. John Smith’s Square, Westwood picked her spot just a step away from the day’s nonviolent climate protests against London Fashion Week, led by environmental action group Extinction Rebellion. And Westwood protested just the same, her collection ringing with urgency and a call for the rebirth of culture. For the British designer, “if we had culture we would not be in this mess, the world would be in harmony, our ethos would be peace."
Viva la revolution de Vivienne Westwood.
Photos courtesy of Vivienne Westwood.
Kane’s signature knitwear featured throughout, arriving in the form of a hot pink diamanté edged cardigan, a knitted shawl fastened with an enormous glittering brooch over a cable knit turtleneck, and a slouchy grey jumper paired with a sheer black skirt. Other Kane classics included the graphic printed pieces, two rubber gloves printed onto the front of dresses with the word “rubberist” written beneath, and a balloon bearing the slogan “looner"—two pieces that'll definitely be shooting to the top of must-have lists come Fall. As the show drew to a close, the previously frothy lace became more intricate; delicately panelled and paired with sparkling chainmail-style looks.
Color-wise, the palette focused on bright pinks, purples, blues and cold whites, along with lots of black. There was a sense of something chaotic, something sinister—the bright prints and colors seemed to nod to the ubiquitous horror film motif of clowns and balloons. This season, Kane seems to be creating a sartorial drama that reflects the frantic, frenetic nature of his current surroundings. The gel pockets now bring to mind last year’s bizarre internet trend for ingesting tide laundry pods, evoking the manic banality of the internet age. Even the soundtrack walked a bombastic tightrope between annunciating horns and dark, throbbing bass beats.
Nevertheless, Kane brought it home with his usual panache. Fashion is an industry whose participants are more likely to play with their food than to actually eat it, so it felt apt that this idea translated into such covetable pieces. Desirable, yes, edible, no. These are clothes to smear over one’s body instead.
View some of the collection highlights, below.
Photos courtesy of Christopher Kane.