Rag & Bone’s Transatlantic Girl

By
Photography Shawn Brackbill

Published February 10, 2014

ABOVE: DAVID NEVILLE (LEFT) AND MARCUS WAINWRIGHT AT THEIR FALL/WINTER 2014 SHOW

Most of Rag & Bone’s previous collections have drawn on vintage themes for inspiration; ’70s inspired skiing uniforms, Pan Am flight attendant gear, and acid-wash jeans of the ’80s have all appeared on the runway. The real skill lies in designers Marcus Wainwright and David Neville’s ability to make these blasts from the past look unequivocally modern.

In fitting with the brand’s focus on workwear, the show took place inside the industrial interior of the former mail-sorting rooms in Skylight at Moynihan Station on West 33rd Street. Upon arrival, guests were greeted with the sweet scent of freshly fried cinnamon donuts, while cider and hot chocolate were offered to combat the cold. We caught up with Marcus and David before the show to discuss the balance in their aesthetic, the making of their Fall/Winter collection, and how they celebrate after the show (hint: a trip to the pub is on the docket).

ALEX FALCONER: Rag & Bone blends American and British aesthetics. Do you feel that with this collection one wins out over the other?

MARCUS WAINWRIGHT: It’s very balanced. Our aim in a collection always to have the clashes: to have American, not versus English, but to have those two fight each other; to have the masculine and feminine and hard and soft balance. There’s a lot of ’50s American workwear, bowling type of silhouettes. There’s a lot of English tailoring. It balances each other out.

FALCONER: When you design your women’s collection, do you look for female input? Either from the women in your lives or other women in fashion?

WAINWRIGHT: From the people that work in the design team, yeah. Not from really other people in fashion—too many opinions. We have a pretty good sense of who our girl is. We’ve been doing it for a while now so we’re past the point of getting [advice]—you can’t really get advice on what you should be designing. But we definitely look at a New York girl, the girls around, and our wives. We draw inspiration from them, but we don’t necessarily ask them. Once we’ve done it: “Would you wear that?” … “No,” then it’s probably bad. [laughs]

FALCONER: Do you guys distinguish between September and February fashion weeks? Is there one that’s more important for Rag & Bone?

WAINWRIGHT: Not really. They’ve both got their challenges.

NEVILLE: One’s hot and one’s cold.

WAINWRIGHT: Especially in this place, because sometimes it’s 2000 degrees in here, the other times it’s minus 50. The fall season is obviously fun because you get a lot of outerwear and heavy fabrics to play with. Spring… it’s different. They’re both equally as important.

FALCONER: What would you say would be the most challenging part of the design process? For this collection specifically.

WAINWRIGHT: The most challenging part is coming up with the right concepts in the first place. Being able to stay in the zone when you’re doing it so you don’t lose sight of what’s cool. Once you come up with a concept, it’s easy to get lost in it and not remain present and thinking about “Would people actually wear it,” and, “Is it cool? Does this look cool?” That’s the hardest thing. If you can stay on track with that, it tends to end up quite good.

FALCONER: When did you finish this collection? Were you working right up until the day before the show?

WAINWRIGHT: The main collection was finished back at the beginning of January, but there are pieces that we work on this week: refitting, doing it in different colors, different fabrics so that it fits with the run of show. It’s been done for a while. It takes a long time; we’ve been working on it since August. 

FALCONER: So when would you start your next collection after this show?

WAINWRIGHT: We’ve already started Spring. It’s a pain in the ass—we don’t get any time off.

FALCONER: Do you have a favorite piece in the collection, either of you?

WAINWRIGHT: There’s some beautiful tailoring and really nice blazers that I really like. Opening we have a shearling vest, which is pretty cool. Massive, grey shearling coat—military coat that I like. But I can’t wear any of it…

FALCONER: After the show, do you do anything specific? Like celebrate or do you go home and relax?

WAINWRIGHT: We go out and get really fucked up.

NEVILLE: [laughs]

WAINWRIGHT: We have a good routine.

FALCONER: Is it the same after every show?

WAINWRIGHT: The level of fucked-up-ness changes a little bit. No, we go for a drink in the pub and then we go for dinner and then we have a little bit of a party, then hopefully we’re in bed.

FALCONER: You guys do such great boots: flat, mid-heel, high-heel. What can we expect, as far as footwear, in the show?

WAINWRIGHT: We’ve got some wicked footwear in this show.

NEVILLE: Yeah.

WAINWRIGHT: Really good. Sort of moccasin—very moccasin inspired, sort of soft, drapey, collapsible footwear. Also some Victorian versus American lace-up boots. Some cool stuff. Really nice bags too.

FALCONER: Do you feel like this women’s collection plays off the men’s collection you did?

WAINWRIGHT: I don’t know if it plays off it, but absolutely—there are some links; there’s some same fabrics, same pinstripe tailoring fabrics in there. It’s the same girl… the girl would go out with the guy, put it that way.

To see our backstage photos from Rag & Bone, click here.