A summary of artist and designer Katelyn Kopenhaver’s fashion week performance piece in New York, NY.
During New York Fashion Week SS17, I took eight models (four on Saturday, four on Sunday) and went downtown outside of NYFW’s largest venues in the Meatpacking District to do a performance. Guerrilla style, we went uninvited, covered in fur and successfully started an interesting dialogue. I had strict guidelines for the tone I wanted to set, a lack of facial expression, and to remain completely silent. I told the girls that they could stand together, apart, and always gave the proper parameters so no one strayed too far. I had them in robotic, sedated postures–– mimicking my personal sentiments towards the world of fashion and American society as a whole. Their faces were monotone, dead-like. I would have them get up move to the next corner, drop down, get up, follow people, get into people’s bubbles, make uncomfortable eye contact, etc. I found myself directing on the spot, composing them as if I was making a photograph that was constantly in flux. If the girls got uncomfortable I would allow them to move, stand in the shade, and make some poses on their own. Outsiders started pulling out their phones, turning to one another, asking people around them what was going on. Some confused, others not… but all engaged.
I wish to constantly critique and challenge fashion, as I believe it has been a basis for my work since I started creating. The fashion world has cultivated a very specific way of seeing; creating identities for us before we can even have the chance to make them ourselves. The work also confronts the concept of value, and why we place it in the items and things we do. My intention with the work is to shake reality and grant new perspective. The coats reveal truths, are non-apologetic, and are all heavily layered with meaning. Being the person who turns around and sees a statement on a garment, that already holds so much value, controversy and power in our world, is either so aggravated or exhilarated, that–– that is the point.
Each fur has a different story, and each phrase has been pulled from my experience placing emphasis on certain aspects of life that I wish to bring attention to. In addition, this is not a protest on fur, and I do love and care about the lives of animals. All of my pieces are strictly found vintage and always repurposed.
I also would like to once again send my deepest gratitude and appreciation to my fantastic team, as I could not have pulled off such a strong performance without any of you.
Designer & Photographer / Katelyn Kopenhaver
Models / Georgie Fu, Laura Hajek, Emelia Benoit-Lavelle, Hal Martin, Kaitlyn McIntyre, Julia Nara, Emily Pimpkins, Christina Kim
MUA / Samantha Granados, Kyle Sheenan