Captured in a 1978 campervan that also doubles up as a live-in art gallery, the designers’ AW16 visuals take inspiration from vintage Michael Kors ads
NY underground label Moses Gauntlett Cheng’s AW16 campaign captures a languorous, intimate afternoon in the Rockaways shot in designer Jenny Cheng’s boyfriend’s 1978 RV – a live-in art gallery called Bed Stuy Love Affair that features emerging artists. Jared Madere’s vintage trailer is full-on in its kitschy weirdness, featuring marble flooring, patterned pink wall tiles, a plastic-covered couch, and even has remote-controlled phasing multi-colored LED lighting. The RV’s exterior is painted over with a mural by artist Jake Cruzen from the time it was parked outside the Whitney Museum, but used to be painted ominously and completely matte black. “There was a hilarious article that came out online,” Esther recalls. “Someone sent in a photo being like, what is up with this demon RV terrorising the Lower East Side?!”
While Bed Stuy Love Affair is an anomalous choice for a fashion shoot, the RV has played a major part on several occasions for Moses Gauntlett Cheng. The label hosted their AW15 show out of the space, driving it last minute (it had to be jump started) to present the collection – rather illegally – in a New York Chinatown parking lot. It re-appeared soon after as the background set of their AW15 lookbook shot by Thomas McCarty.
The fun-loving spirit of the Moses Gauntlett Cheng label lies at the heart of its clothes – each design is open to its wearer’s personal interpretation, an invitation to bend rules and never be self-serious. AW16 campaign photographer Josefine Seifert recalls the first time she collaborated with best friend and AW16 collection stylist Tess Herbert to shoot an editorial featuring the label’s first range: “We styled things completely the wrong way...but they really liked it. The Moses Gauntlett Cheng universe is so playful and it seems like there are no limits to what can happen.” Much like their nodel-icious AW16 show, the campaign features two unique personalities cast and found through friends – Tawan Kariem and Lauren “Lo” Patterson. “Someone I work with at Aesop mentioned his friend was coming to town from LA and was asking whether I knew a casting person I could hook her up with. I saw a photo of Lo and SWEPT UP! She’s got an amazing face, extreme confidence and is such a strong beauty.”
“The fun-loving spirit of the Moses Gauntlett Cheng label lies at the heart of its clothes – each design is open to its wearer’s personal interpretation, an invitation to bend rules and never be self-serious”
The campaign photos capture an intimate story between two people who share a tender yet ambiguous relationship living out a sensuous, nomadic existence. The scenes of the couple – half-dressed and bathed in the afternoon glow – captures a romantic idealism and willingness to share absolutely everything with another person. “It was fun to play with the chemistry,” says Esther. “Is it a brother and sister? Boyfriend and girlfriend? Friends? We don’t know for sure how they’re connected, but you can see at least that they have been living together, and this is like their place, together. There’s a shot of Lo stepping outside in her glasses and Tawan is holding her bag and the door open for her – and you don’t know whether they’re on tour, or just living in their car.”
A reference point for the images came from Esther and Jenny’s deep love and nostalgia for old Michael Kors campaigns – in which expensive-looking couples are often seen stepping out of a helicopter, a private jet or driving a fantastic car. “I grew up looking at those campaigns thinking oh my God, this is so glamorous. It was fun to re-imagine that idea as two people coming out of an RV...and it’s in the Rockaways. It’s also likely that the campaign has a #mycalvins vibe,” adds Esther about the half-dressed looks. “We loved bringing lingerie into it. It was a hot day and we did the entire shoot inside the RV. I felt so bad because the collection was all knitwear and winter clothes, but all of us ran down to the beach afterwards.”