When Imitation of Christ (IOC) debuted its founders, Tara Subkoff & Matt Damhave positioned it as “a label with an eco-political ethos.” It came into being when friends Tara & Chloe Sevigny met Damhove, an art student drop-out, at the Troubadour in West Hollywood in 1999. He & Subkoff became the designers, & Chloe was Creative Director.
The premise was, at the time, revolutionary – make a garment out of thrift store finds or from something out of your closet, give it a unique twist, & you’ve got grunge couture. Add to that, the performance art twist of staging a show that is also a fundraiser for anti-child labor organizations in a funeral parlor, & you generate buzz & a scene.
These days, the fashion part is known as “upcycling” & common place, as the public increasingly rejects fast fashion & its detrimental impact to the environment. Add to that, millennials are rediscovering crafts such as knitting, needlepoint & embroidery, & are selling their creations on the Internet. The most famous example is that of Ella Emhoff, Vice President, Kamala Harris’s stepdaughter who is also a Parsons School of Design student.
IOC rose again in 2020, in response to the social conditions young people are experiencing due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Subkoff enlisted her best friend’s daughter, Lulu Syracuse, who in turn got two of her college friends to put together a fall 2020 couture collection that was not shown in Paris and aptly called “Americans Not Allowed in Paris.”
The latest collection as the first comes from a lot of pieces in Subkoff’s now much larger archive & shares the same deconstructed vibe. It too utilizes unlikely combinations of fabrics, lots of lace, tulle, & asymmetric hemlines, many of them with a going to a Nineties’ warehouse rave feel.
In the end, IOC’s concept of raising social awareness & helping young people work during the Pandemic is admirable. It is not a traditional fashion model however, but more like a seasonal art show with works by visiting artists. Once the garment or canvas is sold, that’s it. Only time will tell if the pieces in these one-off collections will become treasured collectibles.
Designer Website: www.imitationofchristofficial.com
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