Most women will admit to having a subversive side. But at the end of the day, very few can deny that we love to wear something uncompromisingly pretty. Hankering to trade in that androgynous look of the past few seasons, live-in best friends and now business partners Rachel Antonoff and Alison Lewis have created Mooka Kinney, a label fit for the modern Alice as she prances through her wonderland.
It was back in 2005, that the two creative’s met, but it was their love for alternative music that initially made them inseparable. “I had a room for rent in my New York apartment, and Alison and I had a mutual friend that knew Ali needed a new place to live, I was heavily into underground singer Joanna Newsom, Alison came in and was like ‘Is that Newsom playing?’, I knew we were destined!”.
It was two years after the girls initially bonded over Newsom, that they decided to start making clothes recalls Rachel, “The two of us loved vintage dresses- that was another of our shared things, and we started to talk about how we wished there were dresses that were more vintage-like that were mass-marketed.” Alison continues, “We kept talking, and realised we should quit the talking and get on with it. So we literally just got our shit together- and that was like a year ago.” Despite the lack of formal fashion training, the pair learnt about princess seams and empire waists by dissecting their favourite finds from vintage stores, and with help from a friend in the textile business they began to make a selection of sample dresses whilst spreading the name Mooka Kinney amongst the numerous connections Rachel made as a former Fashion PR girl.
Two years, a collection at Barney’s and two shows at New York Fashion Week later, Mooka Kinney’s super-coy aesthetic and sublime silhouettes, which summon the inner-child out to play, have dressed famous faces, like songstresses Lily Allen and Zooey Deschanel as well as fashion mogul Lily Donaldson and the fateful artist who brought the girls together- Joanna Newsom. “Newsom wears our dresses”, says Rachel, “We couldn’t have hoped for a bigger achievement”.
Alison’s favourite dress from their three collections so far, ‘Narnia’, plays homage to her favourite make belief land as a youngster, but Rachel says she prefers the ultra-girly dresses that can be “injected with attitude” through her preference for wearing cowboy boots and bluntly cut bangs. She continues, “Sometimes when I’m wearing MK, I feel like the bad-ass older sister in ‘The Wonder Years’ or a school girl in the ‘60s who would get caught smoking in the bathroom, time and time again”.
So what does the future hold for these girls, for whom Mooka Kinney was only a year ago, just a fun side project? “It’s literally like waking up in someone else’s life every day”, says Rachel, “We obviously hope the success for MK continues, but if it was all cut short tomorrow, we could still relish in the fact we dressed our idol!”