During the fall of my freshman year, I took a creative writing class called “Creative Non- Fiction Writing: The Personal Essay.” There were about 12 people in our class and every week we workshopped each other’s personal non-fiction essays, stopping for a break halfway through
class to enjoy coffee, tea, and cookies in the kitchen of the Kelly Writer’s House, where our class was held. I absolutely loved it, so the next semester I searched for another creative writing class to take and stumbled upon Kenneth Goldsmith’s class “I Shop Therefore I Am: Writing Through Consumerism and Fashion.” I’m an avid online shopper (perhaps too avid) so I thought exploring my identity through a consumerist lens would be a lot of fun.
Fast forward a few months, and I was getting on a 7:30 a.m. bus to New York City on a Saturday in March. Our creative writing class was meeting up for a field trip in New York. The first stop: Dover Street Market, 160 Lexington Avenue. Dover Street Market was created by the founder of the famous avant garde fashion brand Commes de Garcons; it sells rotating collections from many high-end labels like Thom Browne, Gucci, Valentino, The Row, Vetements, and of course, Commes des Garcons. We got a tour of Dover Street Market from its
current director and got to learn all about its history and philosophy, as well as the upcoming Commes des Garcons exhibit in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
After Dover Street, we headed to the apartment/studio of fashion photographer Olivia Locher. Olivia has been frequently featured in the New York Times Magazine and W Magazine, and she regularly photographs Thom Browne and Marc Jacobs’ collections at New York Fashion Week. She showed us past and upcoming projects of hers, and then took individual portraits of each of us. It was such a treat.
Next we had a quick lunch at an Indian restaurant in the Curry Hill neighborhood, and then headed off to Rizzoli, the independent bookstore and publisher that carries lots of specialty fashion books. You might have heard of Rizzoli because they published Kim Kardashian’s book of selfies, Selfish. Finally we stopped off at the Chelsea Flea Market to search for hidden treasures, and then it was back on the Bolt Bus to ride back to Philly. I would never have had the opportunity to meet Olivia or get a comprehensive tour of Dover Street Market without this class (let alone know where Dover Street Market is, as it’s unmarked!). I am so glad I took this class, and I will always look back fondly on our New York field trip. It’s just one example of the amazing, surprising opportunities that come along with a Penn education.
-Hannah R, C'19