The air under the infamous “who’s-who” filled tents is chill and blank. The most awaited series of shows on every fashion editor’s calendar yet, every runway lacks that outrageous ingredient of surprise. Another fashion week has passed us by with no new showing from Heatherette.
The audaciously comical blend between Candyland and couture had given the downtown NYC fashion extremists a voice. Now nearly a decade later reports have placed co-founders and renowned club kids Traver Rains and Richie Rich on opposite sides of the country with no definitive word on the future of their beloved label. With rumors of bickering, bankruptcy and book deals, the fashion world is left asking “Whatever Happened to Heatherette?”
It would be a chance encounter with Sushi Sakai, power buyer for Patricia Fields’ boutique in December of 1999 that’d become the catalyst to fame for the most flamboyant design team of our generation. An order for twenty leather tops had been enough to garner major buzz amongst the boutiques celebrity clientele. Within a few weeks, the boys had secured custom orders from Foxy Brown, Lil’ Kim and Gwen Stefani. With no full collection and this instantaneous new demand, limited Heatherette pieces had begun being placed in major publications from Vanity Fair to Rolling Stone to Italian Vogue. Finally, in 2001 with their debut collection “Look at Me” completed, Richie Rich and Traver Rains had made an impression so memorable that Heatherette’s show was said to have signaled Fashion Week’s official kickoff. The fashion world had been wholly entertained by the duo’s cast of proud celebrity models from Anna Nicole Smith to Boy George.
In the next five years the two would dress some of entertainment’s most eccentric stars from Pink and Kelis to newcomer Teyana Taylor. They’d go on to land design collaborations with Puma, UK sneaker brand Irregular Choice and cosmetics giant M.A.C. Just as fun-loving and exciting in person as their designs, television welcomed the two with open arms. They’d been invited to appear as guest judges on popular reality shows America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway and My Super Sweet Sixteen. In true to form avant-drag enormity, the House of Heatherette had been built.
But, whispers of a Heatherette demise began earlier this Spring after their scheduled February Fashion Week show had been canceled. Rumors of overzealous spending and personality conflicts had begun circulating throughout the industry mill. Although the two initially denied the rumored reports, sources close to the duo openly confirmed the stories. While Traver Rains is said to have relocated to L.A., Richie Rich is said to be preparing to launch his solo line, Rox & Riley, while writing a book on NYC club kids. But are these stories true? After weeks of speculation and no official word from a Heatherette representative, style enthusiasts were left with so many questions unanswered.
As the summer season approached, finally a word from Heatherette’s former publicist hit the press. It was a late yet, spirited attempt at putting the rumors to rest. Promising this was the not the end of Heatherette but, a well needed business overhaul. The two were said to be close to securing a deal with an “encouraging” new investor and working on a new marketing direction. But, as we’re told to hold on to the hopes of a September 2009 Fashion Week show, we’re seeing what’s left of Heatherette’s last collections sell at discomforting discounts. Was the fashion world sold false hopes? Will we ever see another Heatherette Fashion Week show?