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Behind The Scenes

Mandy Coon’s Beginnings

Since Mandy Coon is our inaugural designer, we wanted to talk to her about some of her own milestones, in fashion and elsewhere. And, as it turns out, this topic’s pretty fitting: The New Yorker by way of Texas has had an awful lot of lives for a woman of 34—she modeled and DJed pretty seriously before becoming a designer to watch. We’d compare her to a cat, but we wouldn’t want to offend her French bulldog Petunia, who also goes by Stinky.  First Look: “When I was ten, I was obsessed with Morrissey, and I was convinced I was going to marry him. My older sister would be like, ‘He’s gay,’ and I’d say, ‘No, he’s not,’ and get really mad. I was really into wearing men’s clothes then. Now when I think back, I realize that was pretty awesome. And my sister would cut my hair—she’d shave the sides. I’d still have kind of long hair, and one day my mom would notice and scream, ‘What the hell, Missy! She’s eleven!’”First Modeling Job: “It could have been prom dresses—that was one of the first ones. Or a mall fashion show in Houston.” First Apartment: “In New York, I first lived in models’ apartments, which are like hell. Then I lived at Kenmare and Mott in a tiny, tiny space, and I had two roommates. One was this girl Sarah, and one was Kenzo Minami, the artist. I think we were just drunk most the time.” First Design: “I did this little sheath dress with this really big exaggerated ruffle that I had at a boutique and sold to friends.” [Pictured here on her pal Justine] First Pet: “When I was a kid, my sister and I had a pony, Possum Face. He had a white mane and was brown and cream. My dad used to breed racing horses, so every weekend, we would go out to this little ranch. We’d try to catch wild cats and then come home to my mom scratched all over the place.”First Collection: “It was actually Camilla Stærk, who I was working for, who got up my nerve. One day she said, ‘You’re going to do it. You’re going to have a presentation. You’re going to have a real collection.’ She handed me a sticky note and said, “Here’s the number for the lady who does the fashion week calendar. You’re going to call her. You’re going to get a date.” And I was like, ‘You’re crazy, lady.’ She said, ‘No, this is the right step. You’re ready.’” First DJ Gig: “It was Halloween, but I don’t remember the year—maybe 2005 or 2006. It was at that place Fat Baby, with Anouck Lepère. I was terrified. I was shaking. But by the end of our set, I was like, ‘Wait, wait! Just let me play a few more songs.’ When I do it now, I have to tell people, ‘No, I don’t have any Lady Gaga.’” If you’re reading this in your Tumblr dashboard, you should check out our brand-new site at ofakind.com. While you’re there, sign up for our newsletter.
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Where to Find Mandy Coon in the East Village

Mandy Coon’s aesthetic meshes well with her East Village ‘hood. “It still has character. There are still, like, total junkies in the park,” the grit-appreciating designer explains . “There’s such good food—there’s such good everything.”  Here, five of her top hangouts (with an emphasis on the edible). Prune“I don’t drink bloody marys. But here? They’re so good. And the bone marrow—I’ve never had it anywhere else, but I’ve heard that sometimes it’s gelatinous. I can’t handle that kind of texture.”(4 E. 1st St. # 1, between  1st and 2nd Ave.; prunerestaurant.com)Sunny’s Florist“It’s a tiny little florist—and she’s only open sometimes—on 2nd Ave. and 6th St. Her flowers last a long time and are really beautiful and special. They always have these almost-black calla lilies that range from purple to dark maroon.”(102 2nd Ave., 212-473-0185) Bluebird Coffee Shop“I usually get an Americano, and they also have a great egg-salad sandwich.’”(72 E. 1st St., between 1st Ave. and 2nd Ave.; bluebirdcoffeeshop.com) Bond Street Chocolate“I know about it because my friend—who’s an amazing, amazing knit designer—decided that she wanted to learn how to make chocolates, so she was interning there for awhile and then started working there on weekends. It’s really small, but it’s really cute. They even do little chocolate skulls. I’ve been thinking, ‘Hmm…I want to do a collaboration.’”(63 E. 4th St., between 2nd Ave. and Bowery; bondstchocolate.com)Cha-An“It’s an amazing Japanese tea place. I usually have a sencha, and on Saturdays, I get this lunch special thing that I really like.”(230 E. 9th St., between 2nd and 3rd Ave.; website)B&H“I never actually go there—I always order in. They have great hot borscht, and I really like their macaroni and cheese—it’s American cheese, not fancy. In the winter, their stuff is all I want to eat.”(127 2nd Ave., between 7th St. and St. Marks Pl.; 212-505-8065) If you’re reading this in your Tumblr dashboard, you should check out our brand-new site at ofakind.com. While you’re there, sign up for our newsletter.
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Four Things Fueling Mandy Coon’s Creativity Now

Walking into Mandy Coon’s Lower East Side studio, you’d probably notice the skulls first—a hodgepodge of tough relics that the designer says she’s collected only accidentally. But there are a lot of other influences to be found scattered throughout, too. Here, a visual tour of the designer’s current inspirations, one of which involves both a bunny and Frank Sinatra. ANATOMY   Clockwise from top left / model Jamie Bochert in the Irm Cage top—a ribcage-like harness that’s part of Mandy’s fall collection; the human shoulder; a skeleton moonlighting as a business-card holder; intricate Leonardo di Vinci drawings; the Night Flight to Venus jacket, inspired by the human form; x-rays hung from the ceiling in a dimly lit section of Mandy’s studio.   SHIRLEY MACLAINE’S STUFFED BUNNY PURSE IN SOME CAME RUNNING  Clockwise from top left / sketches of Mandy’s bunny bags (complete with ear dimensions); Shirley MacLaine freshening up while clutching her ratty bag in the 1958 movie, which also stars Frank Sinatra; Mandy’s design for Of a Kind; the original black leather version from the designer’s fall collection, splayed across her desk with her keys and sketches. That little tweed guy above? Mandy made 30 of them just for us, and you can buy one here. THE WORK OF PAMELA SUNDAY Clockwise from top left / Blastoid sculpture; the Future Ghosts coat from Fall, an avant-garde but cozy piece with contrasting textures; more amazing ceramic pieces by the Brooklyn artist, whose forms are all inspired by nature. JELLYFISH Clockwise from top left / an image by Portland-based photographer Camille Solyagua (one of Mandy’s favorites); Technicolor pictures tacked up in the designer’s offices; the gauzy white Calling Out of Context dress from the spring collection, with plenty of filmy layers; another high-impact photo by Solyagua; the Every Man Has a Woman dress for spring with tentacle-like accents. If you’re reading this in your Tumblr dashboard, you should check out our brand-new site at ofakind.com. While you’re there, sign up for our newsletter.
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