Since 2017, an ongoing pop-up series called Café Forgot has gleefully straddled the muddied line between art and fashion. The brainchild of New York natives and friends Vita Haas and Lucy Weisner, each iteration of the store offers a carefully curated selection of mostly one-of-a-kind pieces by independent designers and artists with whom Haas and Weisner have formed relationships, including the likes of CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund nominee Lou Dallas; Los Angeles artist Annabell P. Lee, who hand paints canvas corsets in softly colored grid patterns; and New York-based knitwear brand Gauntlett Cheng, to name just a few.
It’s always been more than a showcase of exciting underground fashion, though. Their previous projects have brought nude figure drawing classes and a book club into their retail spaces, and their latest month-long pop-up, which just opened yesterday at Chinatown gallery space Larrie, is bridging the gap between art and fashion in a much more pronounced way. Just take the sight of the gallery from the street as a case in point—there’s a cage skirt hanging in the window that Los Angeles-based designer Runny Babbit created from dainty, ruffled scrap fabric that looks as much a sculpture as it does something to wear.
The collaboration is something that Haas, Weisner, and Larrie founder Becky Elmquist have been planning for a while, ever since Elmquist first walked into Café Forgot’s bygone Tribeca pop-up. “We do a similar thing at Larrie with putting artists in a space where they haven’t shown before, as in Café Forgot’s case, they’re really working on giving young designers this platform,” Elmquist says. “A lot of our designers work mainly doing one-of-a-kind pieces, and that kind of made sense in the context of the gallery already,” Weisner says. The gallery space has also allowed them to show more unconventional pieces that aren’t necessarily garments, like ceramics, sculpture, and jewelry that need some space to breathe, like the work of Haas’s friend Marland Backus.
Their collaboration with Larrie is Café Forgot’s biggest showing yet, and they’ve stocked numerous new designers–Haas and Weisner say over the phone in the few days leading up to the opening that they’re adding airbrushed and hand tie-dyed pieces by Emily Dawn Long, wonky freshwater pearl necklaces by Beepy Bella, and knits made by Jane Balthus, who used to work in the shop.
In addition to these new artists, Haas and Weisner are also broadening their programming with help from Elmquist, who is curating a series of artists to be exhibited in the space for the duration of the pop-up. There will be a concert that will feature performances by True Blue, Eyeshadow, Personal Trainer, and Sadie, which is especially exciting for Haas, as she’s always envisioned the store as a fashion-oriented version of the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls that she used to work at (think of it as a fashion camp for girls), as well as a talk between stylist Becky Akinyode, known for her work with Kelsey Lu, and one of the pop-up’s featured designers, Martina Cox. To round things off at the very end of the month, there will also be a comedy show that will feature some particularly funny members of the Café Forgot community.
“It’s going to be a great way to engage people who want to participate in Café Forgot but don’t necessarily want to buy the clothes—it’s just a different way of participating in the shop,” Weisner says. Café Forgot’s community-oriented approach is abundantly clear on Instagram, where you’re bound to see photos of Haas and Weisner’s friends trying out the stores’ wares every day of the pop-up. Clearly this circle of fashion-loving friends is about to get bigger.