Rachel Antonoff Makes a Charming Return to Fashion Week

After four seasons away, the designer brought her uniquely darling brand back to the fashion calendar in the form of a science fair.
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Alyssa Vingan Klein
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After four seasons away, the designer brought her uniquely darling brand back to the fashion calendar in the form of a science fair.
Rachel Antonoff at her fall 2015 presentation. Photo: Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images

Rachel Antonoff at her fall 2015 presentation. Photo: Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images

Sometimes, as you're making the Fashion Week rounds, it's easy to fall into the mindset that once you've seen one presentation, you've seen them all. But such is never the case when it comes to Rachel Antonoff, who made her return to the show circuit for fall 2015 after four seasons away. Never lacking in creativity (or cuteness), she's staged past presentations in the form of a murder mystery, a high school sock hop and inside a recreated dollhouse, but she may have topped herself this time with a full-on science fair — complete with artfully illustrated experiment booths — held at the Professional Children's School on the Upper West Side.

According to Antonoff, the collection was based on the intersection between biology and botany, but the real story focused on a love triangle between three characters she'd dreamed up: A student, Fern, who was having an affair with her teacher, who was having an affair with a different teacher, who's actually in love with Fern. The more tangible, scientific and scholastic themes come through in the casual, cheeky pieces: There's a blazer with a prep school-like crest designed by Dana Veraldi (of Deer Dana). A pair of leafy prints that appear to be a florals are actually a garden of gross, bodily organs and a dissected frog, respectively, upon closer inspection. Finally, the crowd favorites were a dress embroidered with a diagram of lungs and a "reproductive sweater" that boasts the female anatomy loud and proud. (There's also a tee that reads "Seymour Pussy," referencing one of the characters in Antonoff's made-up love story.)

A prop desk at Rachel Antonoff's science fair.

A prop desk at Rachel Antonoff's science fair.

When asked how she felt to be back at Fashion Week, Antonoff seemed legitimately stoked. "It’s really fucking cool," she said. "I love doing videos — that’s why we stopped showing. We had that initial idea. It was fun and easy and cheaper, but then we had this science fair idea and I thought, 'we can’t not do this.'" The designer dove right back into the Fashion Week grind, even going so far as to cast the models by herself for the first time — something she found very interesting, if a bit difficult. "A lot of the people we put in our videos are friends and family, and it’s easier to direct your friends and family than [models] you don’t know who are so much taller than you that they can’t even hear you. I’m like Pee-wee Herman yelling at them," she explained. "But in a way it's kind of nice, there's not as much personal politics. Like, 'I hope so-and-so is not offended that we put so-and-so in the video.'"

Antonoff, who's cast the likes of Natasha Lyonne, Mae Whitman, Alia Shawkat and Jenny Slate in her collection films, also notes the emotional rush of showing at Fashion Week is something that releasing a video simply can't replicate. "I forgot that adrenaline — the all-nighters the night before and then this crowd ... it’s just so cool and fun." We hope (for our sake) that the buzz doesn't wear off before she starts planning next season's presentation.

Click through the gallery below to see more images from Antonoff's fall collection.