Ain't No Banker for Switch Magazine
Tihs story was born of the pantsuit nation, well at least sort of. Last year designers started doing some really interesting things in women's suiting and generally adapting menswear as womenswear, and in addition to being a culural discussion it was a reflection of the political moment. And as watching my dad in his double breasted pinstripe suits with overcoats, scarves and the occasional hat had a huge influence in taking my road into fashion (I thought he looked like a movie star in all the classic films we would watch) this trend intrigued me. The other thing that happened was that Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to Trump. This is obviously a huge deal politically. It was a moment that is having a profound effect our culture and cultural discussion. During the election, there was this incredible feeling that we were going to bridge that last major political gap. We would have a female president. We as a country were making equality a priority. Women in this country would stop being a special interest group, but rather a valued and respected 51% of the population. It was an incredible and hopeful moment. And then it was gone. And this is not the place to analyze what went wrong, there are already several books by people more qualified and central to the debate than I am. But I remember what I felt. I remember being exhausted and depressed and that I lived in a country that did not value me because I am a woman and would never see that full measure of equality. I felt like it was a moment for the country to reaffirm that women are second to men and that this was somehow right. Now before any Republicans reading this go screaming for the exits, I fully recognize that Hillary did not lose this election because she was a woman. As I said before there is more than enough to unpack and carry that discussion. I refer you back to a library of books, podcasts, internet rants and think pieces by people better (and several less) qualified to give you those explanations. But that November morning when I had a terrible time getting out of bed, that's what I felt.
It was a feeling that continued until I started seeing all the calls to arms by my various fashion and art friends. Photographers started talking about shifting their work to show an America that Trump seemed happy to ignore, degrade, or simply pretend didn't exist. The question of what makes an American came up repeatedly. And one friend in LA started talking about holding discussion nights at her place where the artists she knew and respected could get together to figure out how to create art that would change the conversation and have an impact, if only to help them and their community work through the shock. It was a call to arms that played out through fashion week where protest and resistance were the name of the game.
So I got back to work. I started making briefs and pitching them. I wanted to focus on stories that examined and challenged how we think about women in public, how they are represented, how we are packaged and sold back to ourselves as something else. Some of the stories worked, some less so, but I found my path, my way of finding my way back to an America I could be proud of and that I felt connected to. Even if I am just making the background noise that makes people rethink the roles and place of women, or question the exclusive and often stuffy ideas of traditional beauty that would be enough because I was making it easier to see a different way through my work. I was thrilled when I sent the brief out to Switch Magazine, an Italian print publication, and they enthusiastically commissioned the story for the September Issue. So in addition to giving me my first September issue, they reinforced the idea that I wasn't alone and that my way of coping was something that resonated with others internationally.
A huge part of this story's success is Megan Pfiffner. This was our third shoot together and having her as a creative partner has made a huge difference in the work. She pushes me to come up with better ideas and to just be better. She recommended that we make sure to include very editorial makeup, she felt that the looks should be loud and colorful and something between joyous and irreverent and anything but comfortable and demure. The story was about modern fashion's answer to the corporate uniform in Feminism's third wave. Women in business shouldn't be men in skirts, they shouldn't feel the need to self-police or be as unconfrontational as possible. I wanted to shoot clothes on women that made them feel powerful and confident and proud to be the center of attention.
Leticia Bishop, a globe trotting makeup artist had reached out before her stint in NYC and joined the crew and took our ideas for beauty excess and gave them life in the brilliant colors and washes throughout the story. Brynn Doering, another regular team member and friend joined the crew as our hair stylist and had the un-enviable job of creating effortless and devil-may-care looks on one of the wettest shooting days I've ever had. And then of course there was Puck Loomans. I'd seen Puck's book several times and had always wanted to work with her, but the projects were never quite right, so I jumped at the chance to have her work with us here and she was delightful to work with and so patient despite the terrible weather.
So without further ado, here is an extended edit of our story for Switch Magazine: Ain't No Banker