Rachel Comey Spring 2023 Ready-to-Wear Collection

Over a recent breakfast Rachel Comey was reminiscing about the Chelsea flea market. In the 1990s, before zoning laws made way for luxury high rises on Sixth Avenue, antique dealers and junk collectors turned the empty lots from 24th to 27th Streets into a weekend paradise for vintage-lovers. Comey once stumbled across a cache of printed textiles that she still uses as references today, among many other treasures fashion-oriented and not.

Walking into her Crosby Street store in SoHo conjures something like the sense of kismet that a Saturday morning trip to the Chelsea flea market once did, the racks full of pieces with a one-off sense of the special, from a summery crocheted top with dragonflies knit into the pattern, to a poplin slip dress picked out in baguette-cut glass beads. They look like they could be vintage, only without all the tedious legwork.

Not that Comey has anything against legwork. She’s been at this for 20-plus years. It’s a career stage when some designers (especially male designers, especially in Milan and Paris) retreat to ivory towers and lose touch with what women want. She’s still working on personal instinct, which in turn keeps her relevant with her customers. A black denim apron belt in the spring lineup is a nifty accessorizing piece with a zip pocket that eliminates the need for a bag, because Comey herself is happier when she’s hands-free.

She’s also looking outward for ideas, of course. With an eye to summer weddings, she whipped up a one-shoulder peplum in stretch smocked cotton along with a matching skirt. Together or separate they have serious re-wear potential.

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