Slow and Steady Wins the Race S/S 09

The minimal line presents an installation based on the structure of a modern day department store.

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Nothing goes out of style at Slow and Steady Wins the Race. To showcase her spring wares, Mary Ping decided to open a pop-up department store inside the Saatchi & Saatchi Gallery complete with towels and toilet seats, dining and silverware and a glass display filled with empty perfume vials.

Slow and Steady, which began as a simple study in fashion design for Ping, has developed into a multi-dimensional line ranging from underwear and eveningwear to shoes and accessories. For her spring presentation, Ping teamed up with Bureau V. The new architecture firm created the wooden installations used to recreate the multi-level experience of a traditional department into a spacious walkway filled with some of the line’s signature pieces as well as a few additions.

Among the new pieces was a pearl shirt from the eveningwear collection, which already includes a series of smoking jackets, gloves, cocktail dresses and a functional cumberbund fannyfack. For the first time, Ping is also launching into bridal and rainwear. Her first wedding dress, a $100 satin gown held up by two gold wedding bands, was a hit. But of course, no Slow and Steady store would be complete without the bags that got her on the map. Continuing her analysis of the modern shopper’s obsession with status bags, Ping also had her four-sided Birkin bag prominently on display.

Dazed Digital: Why did you decide to open up a department store?
Mary Ping: We wanted to do something for fashion week. The last two years, we did pop-up stores and we wanted to do something different this year other than just a straight-up retail environment. It’s more a commentary on retail.

DD: How did you translate the Slow and Steady aesthetic into the store’s design?
MP: Slow and Steady Wins the Race is about the fundamentals of clothing design. For each category, we try to create classics with a twist. Our first approach was to create an authentic feeling environment that was like a department store, but it was just hard to find a multi-level structure to do something very traditional in it. So we thought, what’s another solution? How can we carry the message over? This is what we came up with.

DD: I love your imitation handbags. Did you ever get into trouble for them?
MP: We didn’t at first. Only this year did we get a cease and desist letter from Chanel, but only to use the name. They didn’t have a problem with the shape. When we did bags, I was looking at status bags and thinking about the meaning behind them. Why do these things exist? What would it mean if everything was stripped down and it became a canvas. It’s almost like a fingerprint where people still recognize it. It’s recreating the scale, but altering the materials. People immediately recognize it. It’s a signifier of how iconic those bags have become in our consciousness.

DD: Now you have ventured into another iconic piece: the wedding dress. Was it challenge?
MP: It was really hard to come up with a $100 wedding dress. It wasn’t about making a cheap wedding dress. What’s more interesting to me is all the meanings that go into a wedding dress. That was the difficult thing; distilling it all. I was reading up on shapes, the history, rituals and ceremonies and emotional factors. For the women I know who got married, the wedding dress is the core of it all.  I wanted to create something that had the drama, the emotion. The only details  I have are the two wedding bands that are holding it all together.
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