Photos by Jay Gambino Esparza
After seven days of non-stop runways shows and presentations, I was delighted to stop in at the Chelsea Hotel, Room 219, where the Hayden Harnett presentation was being held. I knew that if nothing else I was guaranteed to see beautiful clothing, jewelry, shoes, and of course, covetable bags.
When I stepped into the multi-room suite, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find so much more than a typical presentation. Usually models look stiff and bored just standing as they are being ogled by dozens of dozens of people. Here, I walked in and immediately felt like I was walking into someone’s home – candles, which are sold at the Hayden Harnett boutique, were even scattered around to give a refreshing scent to the space.
Designer Toni Hacker and her business partner Ben Harnett brought in tons of furniture (think armoires, fainting chairs, mirrors…), and accessories (Ouija board, old records, books, candles…), to bring their presentation to life.
Models were everywhere – sprawled on the bed reading, sitting in the bathroom, laying down, perched against a wall. There were even twins on a love seat. More interestingly though, all the models were eating junk food – cheese puffs, ring pops, cookies, doughnuts, chocolates – you name it.
The presentation, in fact, came from designer Toni Hacker reading about the Cargo Cult in an encyclopedia. This particular cult believes that through rituals and magical thinking that wealth and goods will come to them. The program notes stated that the collection is a gift from the deities for hunters and gatherers of the unique. This is a fitting description, as the brand’s aesthetic is nothing if not quirky and unique.
From there, Hacker dreamed-up her own cult of girls who live in an apartment together and don’t ever leave it other than when they go get food at the corner bodega – hence the junk food, long Rapunzel-like hair on the models, and abundance of tchotchkes. The presentation was the viewers, in a way, spying on this particular cult in their habitat.
The clothing and shoes both had a vintage-Victorian feel to them with a pair of cut-out detail boots, studded sandals, printed dresses, a color-blocked skirt and vest, and the outerwear standing out the most. That said, it’s always the bags and the jewelry that pique my attention when it comes to the label. Followers will delight at the studs, fringe, and metal plates that spice-up the bags, cuffs, and belts that were presented.
The collection was beautifully crafted and, with the March 7th opening of the duo’s first New York City boutique (their flagship is in Greenpoint, Brooklyn), Hayden Harnett has a shiny, bright future ahead.