Interviews \

Rachel Comey Challenges Traditional Catwalk Tunes

The New York designer finds sonic inspiration during a trip to Wyoming

We can’t remember a time when the phrase “perfect leather booties” wasn’t immediately followed by her name, which is why we were so excited to peek inside Rachel Comey’s newest collection. The designer, who creates shoes and accessories for men and women in addition to a full womenswear line, is an artist-at-heart who has even been featured at the Whitney Museum as part of its biennial. It comes as no surprise, then, that each show’s soundtrack is a new live composition, performed by some of her closest, most talented friends. The (super-pregnant!) designer spilled on this year’s intentionally eclectic tunes, as well as what gets her going, sonically-speaking. If a trip to Wyoming can get her behind country music and a steel pan performance can guide this season’s entire show, there’s no telling where else this insider may find inspiration:

Tell me about the music you’ve chosen for this season’s collection.
This season we’re working with Rupert Clervaux, a composer and drummer, who also performed at our SS09 show. We like to give him some sort of challenge, for example, a drum and a piano duel. This year is similarly inspired, trying to pair instruments and sounds that aren’t typically paired together – something we do with our design process as well…autoharp, steel pan drums, and piano.

How did these songs help you get inspired for this collection and how do they reflect it?
We choose by musician rather than song, and try to capture a feeling we are experiencing at that time. We also love a collaboration and try to find musicians that also do. Recently, we saw Rupert play in New York with a steel pan player who had a tremendous stage presence. That was the start of the conversation, but the final result is entirely different.

How is it different from the playlist for past seasons?
We try and compose something unique every season, so in that sense, it’s always different. What stays the same is we almost always use live music, except for the year we used a standup comedian, [Heather Lawless].

Are there any items in this collection or prior ones that specifically tie back to a song or album?
Absolutely. I think clothing and music function really similarly. Everyone knows where they were when they heard a certain song, and I think clothing can be just as specific to a time and place.

What’s your musical discovery process?
I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who are really passionate about music or are musicians themselves, and they often introduce me to new albums. Many of our show performers are people we’re fortunate enough to call friends.

What would people be most surprised to learn you listen to?
In Wyoming this summer, I discovered I have a soft spot for new country!

What’s the last song you recall listening to and falling in love with?
“I Like Everything About You” by Jimmy Hughes.