For months I noticed an empty condominium across from my apartment building, between which is an empty lot, a carriage house, and two storage buildings with bamboo doors leaning against real doors. There is also a leafy tree between my building and the floor-to-ceiling windows of the condominium. The owners ran out of money to finish the building, leaving it full of supplies. That is not hard to see. The tree does not always have its leaves.
Last summer, I saw two people leaning back onto the empty and new balcony of the condominium. Inside during the same week a mannequin appeared. After the mannequin, a table, a lamp and a girl in the window. More mannequins in the next weeks and clothing on the mannequins. The single girl and her things became permanent in the window and she slowly dressed the mannequins, one piece on each mannequin, as she made the pieces.
Mayle dress, cream cotton & black satin
Birkett black & beige leather skirt
Her fashion line grew into the exposed hallways behind her room.
Marni cap-sleeved layered front & back v-neck dress
At some point the girl was aware of being seen. She hung a tarp over her window and worked at night, her silhouette and all of the silhouettes of the mannequins behind.
Stella McCartney mint silk, layered panel silk dress
I could see the number of mannequins growing into the next room from their excessive forms outlined behind the tarp.
Grea Zen tie-waist cape; Dries Van Noten cotton wrap skirt; Alexander McQueen charcoal leather vest
That was all in the summer. The mannequins are gone from behind the tarp and the light has never come on again. Looking through the racks of INA Noho this week, I remembered that her designs were very rudimentary, made with raw materials, seams and closures exposed, constructed with grommets and little adornment.