We took designer Katelyn Kopenhaver and her furs to a motel just outside of Manhattan last week. We paid by the hour, drank prosecco, chained smoked, and chatted about clothes, politics, and feminism.
Here’s a look inside of the mind of one of New York’s youngest designers.
by NAKID Fashion Editor – Rachel Lynch
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What was the first coat you made and why?
“It was the PREY coat. I made it because I attempted the phrase on an image and it wasn’t coming across as strong as I wanted. It occurred to me that I had a balled up mink fur coat in my old apartment when I was sitting in the computer lab at SVA. My dad got it for me at an auction for cheap and I didn’t plan on wearing or using it until that moment.”
How did it go from there? Did you just decided to keep making more?
“After the PREY coat it became kind of an addiction. I felt like I was being heard in a different way than I have ever experienced and it was through a medium that I identified with. Coming up with phrases and type layouts became an energy I started rapidly applying. I figured I would keep going with it while I felt it.”
Did you always intend to make clothes?
“Not even in the slightest. I always recognized design on clothing but never considered making it myself.”
Where did you grow up? How did that influence you?
“I was raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. I’m sure it has influenced me in more ways than I could know. Growing up with horses around me, thankfully, built something in me that I do not think I could have learned from any individual. Bonds, trust, perseverance, strength, responsibility, confidence – these things will forever stay with me.”
Did you go to school for art? What’s the best thing you learned in school?
“Yes. I graduated from School of Visual Arts for Photography. I learned how to take and leave advice, have an open mind, understand that any art can be pushed further beyond expectation, and learning wasn’t going to stop after college.”
What’s it like living in New York?
“New York is one of the most if not the most challenging place in the world. She’s brutal and beautiful all at once. There’s always a test though and it’s constant – but she rewards you with doors and rosé and then all of a sudden the world starts sparkling in ways you have never seen.”
Why the words on the back? What are you trying to say?
“There’s something about words on the back of the garment instead of the front. You’re leaving people with a message instead of entering with it. A woman in fur is powerful. Being the person who turns around and see’s a statement on a garment, that already holds so much
value and power in our world, is either so aggravated or exhilarated and that – that’s the point.”
Are you a feminist?
“For sure – if your definition falls along equality in both sexes – socially, economically and politically.”
Who would you like to wear your clothes?
“Rihanna, first off. Broadly, strong individuals. Men and Women who stand for something but also represent something bigger than themselves.”
What designers inspire you?
“Joseph Kosuth, Barbara Kruger , Ed Ruscha, Jenny Holzer, Richard Prince,
Lawrence Weiner, David Carson, Alexander Mcqueen. Designers in their own right and so
What are your plans for Paris this fall?
“Wear the coats, photograph the coats, and just rock the shit out of the coats! I want to circulate the coats in every area I can and enjoy dancing on the line between art and
designer – Katelyn Kopenhaver
photographer – Jen Senn
model – Rachel Lynch