Checking In: Rachel Antonoff on Her Prom-Themed Fall Presentation and Fifth Grade Wardrobe

For those whose fashion sense was tempered during Clinton-era optimism and 1990's floral prints, Rachel Antonoff's playfully nostalgic collections call to mind the best aspects of childhood spent in pouf-sleeve sundresses and neon leggings.

Of course, Antonoff's aesthetic is not nearly so literal as a raid on one's third grade wardrobe: Her grown-up take on play-date apparel includes plenty for sophisticated ladies to get excited about, including perfect strapless cocktail dresses, sleek catsuits, and easy, flirty separates. Coming off a wildly successful Fall 2011 presentation (themed to feel like a high-school formal, complete with DJ and pink punch), we caught up with Rachel to see how she's keeping busy as summer approaches.

What was the first thing you did to unwind after the fashion month bonanza?
The very first thing I did was go to P.J. Clarke's with my my mom and dad, brother, boyfriend and friends. It was the best. Then I went home and totally indulged in all the sleep and TV I had been missing. It was bliss.

You're known for coordinating creative and unconventional fashion week presentations. Tell us about "The Dance" for Fall 2011: was there a specific source of inspiration?
Thanks! I've just always been taken with the idea of dances. I think it's so cool that the tradition dates so far back and just how many incarnations of it have existed throughout history. Aesthetically, dances are so dreamy and nostalgic, generally a lovely environment.

What was the toughest thing about pulling it off?
Oh dear, so hard to say. I'm pretty DIY about things so I was handling a lot of it during prep. I would say casting is the biggest hurdle.

What did you wear to your prom?
I actually wore a long Vivienne Tam dress. It was sheer cream with a brown pattern and went over a brown slip. I loved it. I wore chocolate brown BCBG platforms with it and had my make up done at MAC.

The focus of your collections is always dresses, dresses, dresses. What about them is so captivating for you rather than, say, pants?
That's a good question! I started out only doing dresses because my goal was to make things I wanted to wear and at the time I more or less only wore dresses. I've always felt like dresses are so easy and simple, a one-stop-shop if you will. My favorite thing about dressing in summer is just throwing on a dress, sliding into some flip flops and walking out the door. I do do a fair amount of separates now. Mostly blouses, shorts and skirts but the occasional pair of pants as well.

Who or what is inspiring your own wardrobe this season?
Comfort is inspiring my own style as of late! I feel like it doesn't matter how cute the outfit is, if someone looks uncomfortable, they don't look good. Specifically my brother Jack influences my style a lot. He is boldly, comfortably himself in his dressing, always with a flair of silliness.

What are you looking forward to most about the summer?
Going to the beach! I've been going to Long Beach Island every summer since I was young. Its so relaxed and wonderful there and you ride bikes everywhere. I get my best ideas sitting on the beach.

Any hints about what we can look forward to in Spring 2012?
Hmm ... It will be sweet!

Describe a typical ensemble for you in the fifth grade.
Ha! I actually have a very clear vision of this: floral leggings from the Limited Too and sweatshirt featuring two kittens and the words 'carpe diem' from God only knows where. Can't remember the shoes but I'm guessing Keds. Now, this outfit sounds awesome to me, but at the time the other fifth graders didn't seem to think so.

The "Golden Age" of fashion, in your opinion?
I think the '20s. Everything was so crisp and fancy. Boater hats, flapper dresses. So dreamy!

The most underrated "style icon"?
This is a toughie! Everyone I'm thinking of is actually pretty 'rated'. Okay, my brother Jack.

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