On Thursday last week, I stood outside the Knuefermann store at 9am. I lifted my glasses at the window, peering with a quiet admiration. I was Holly Golightly outside Tiffany’s in New York, 1943. In the background, Moon River was playing, and I could almost make out the very water flowing through Savannah, Georgia. Mancini wrote about it with a yearning, a nostalgia I think I understand.
Knuefermann’s collection is like looking out at the night sky. Darkness lit only by reflection: it falls into the shimmering water below. She captures the grey days that follow. They are marked with white clouds sometimes so large they filter the entire entity above. In these weary tones, there is a sense of comfort. Unlike for Golightly, one could not experience the mean reds here. Usually bleak, greys and whites find warmth on palettes that exist above them. The shades are inevitable of Winter – and for this sake, also insanely beautiful.
The store itself was transformed on this murky grey morning – and for 20 minutes, we found ourselves nowhere near the Viaduct. Instead, we were in a run-down burlesque club, an old broadway theatre – even, an empty Brooklyn apartment which had seen people and parties pass through it. Models graced directly past the front row to a misty tune. The entire mood was eerie and classic, as if it had been done before. Not the collection, but the moments that it depicted. Knuefermann had sourced from the most romantic of evenings, those in which we had found ourselves lonely, and others where we’d first felt sexy – beautiful even.
At an early hour, I was still dreaming – imagining a life where I regularly adorned Knuefermann’s silk wrap dresses. I’d look over my bare shoulders, the neckline falling around the rims of my arms. I’d catch the eye of a handsome man; he’d tip his glass to say hello. I’d smile, and for a moment, we’d fall in love. I’d fall in love with five different men that evening. We’d only ever have looked at each other.
I’d wake up in the morning – perhaps alone – and yet, not saddened by the solitude of my state. I’d slouch in the loveliest of shirt dresses. They’d fall around my soft skin as I wandered antique stores, and walked cloudy waterfronts with old friends and coffee. I’d bear my femininity under the comfort of oversized shirts and loosely tailored pants. My own idea of womanhood would change day-to-day; I’d constantly redefine it.
In Knuefermann’s collection, I saw myself asserting the strongest of my character. Holding my capability in my right pocket, in the steps of my Portugal-made chelsea boots. During the day, I’d be focused and determined… held back by no one. I’d be independent, mysterious like the evenings.
At night though, I’d adorn a different kind of mystery. I’d find myself dressed in elegance. She, a sudden believer in magic and the idea of the unexpected. I’d be the owner of two personalities: a cynic, and a believer in deep, deep love. I’d find myself in and out of it, too: the girl who falls hard when she falls – but who barely does fall, at all.
The difference between me and Golightly is that when I escaped into Knuefermann’s story, I was not lost. I was not in some way darting into a taxi and leaving town, nor hiding behind glasses in hope of going unnoticed by New York City.
Day 4 of NZFW, I indulged in glasses of Champagne, then cups of coffee with bircher and apple crumble. I watched the most tasteful shades of black skim hard-wood floors. And rather than feeling lost, I felt direction.
Although she printed in only grayscale, Knuefermann made Winter, and our being in the season, mysterious and enigmatic in the best possible way. We were driven as individuals, yet a lot of the time, we kept to ourselves. There were secrets, and all about them was romance.
While the prospect of Spring is ever-hopeful, it almost seems a shame to disembark from the transformative world Knuefermann has invited us. She’s captured a magic like Tiffany’s. If I cannot afford to invest in the clothes, I shall forever attempt to in the lifestyle.
“… The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s…”