Though her coveted wood-soled shoes, handbags, and downtown-chic clothes are stocked at a slew of top retailers — Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, and Opening Ceremony among them — Rachel Comey oversees a team of just five people. After her critically acclaimed spring 2011 show last Thursday, there’s been no lull for the (five-months-pregnant!) multitasker: The former Theory design consultant also handles her own sales, pricing, and merchandising. We caught up with the indie design darling to talk about her latest collection, makeshift maternitywear, and flea-market nostalgia.
What inspired your spring collection?
Mostly the heavy-handed weather this summer. Given the lightweight fabrics and playful prints that I do, I’m usually thinking about the beach and vacation garb for spring. But this summer, because the heat was so intense, I was trying to create garments for the city.
Who are your favorite designers?
I love textile designer Sonia Delaunay’s surprising mix of shapes, colors, and textures. Also Charles Kleibacker, who I discovered at a collector’s archive. He did all sorts of interesting things with symmetrical lines.
What’s the first designer item you ever bought?
Is Esprit considered “designer?” I’m originally from Hartford, Connecticut, and I got really into clothes around the time Esprit and Benetton were huge.
Where do you like to shop in New York?
I love flea markets, particularly the ones on 25th Street and in Fort Greene. Except now there’s too much food at them — it makes them so crowded! Nobody’s boyfriend or husband ever wanted to go to the flea market before, but now there are lobster rolls and sliders. I love the foodie trend, but I preferred it when flea markets were a little quieter and more specific.
What are you hunting for?
Anything to surprise me. It could be a textile, a rug, some spoons, a doorstop, or a piece of jewelry.
How would you describe your personal style?
Spontaneous — not so planned, especially now that I’m pregnant. Though I have discovered that my collection offers plenty to wear if you’re pregnant, even if that wasn’t the intent. And I love a strong wooden heel.
Looks from the Rachel Comey spring 2011 collection.Photo: Imaxtree.