Lafayette 148 CEO and co-founder Deirdre Quinn and president Liz Fraser invited an exclusive list of VIPs, celebrities, and influencers to an enveing of fashion and philanthropy to celebrate to the brand’s #UnordinaryWomen campaign with a panel discussion titled “#UnordinaryWomen, Extraordinary Conversations.”
The panel was hosted by Fern Mallis and featured She’s the First CEO and co-founder Tammy Tibbetts, supermodel Veronica Webb, White House correspondent April Ryan, ballerina Stella Abrera, fashion photographer Sophie Elgort, president, digital and chief digital officer at Meredith Corp Corporation Catherine Levene, co-founder of The Justice Dept Anjali Kumar, founder of Mother Untitled Neha Ruch, La Mercerie founding chef Marie Aude-Rose, founder of The Collective Cyndi Spiegel, Russ & Daughter’s owner Niki Russ, Harper’s Baazar writer Rachel Cargle, and head of product development at The Whitney Museum’s Lauri Freedman.
Freedman is part of the force behind the curation of the Whitney’s shoppable Eckhaus Latta exhibit, a first of its kind experience for The Whitney and the world. Freedman had spent twenty years as a stay-at-home mother volunteering for any and everything, was president of the PTA, and doing all the hard work of being a mother in New York. She was having lunch with her friend who encouraged her to apply for a job as the head of product development. “I didn’t have the resume and experience on paper to be doing the job I am doing right now, and what really happened is the director of retail at the Whitney said to me during my fifth interview ‘I interviewed twenty people who on paper are more qualified than you do for this job, and I know what all of them are going to do, and you are the person who I want to see what they are going to do, and I can’t wait to hire you,’” Freedman said.
“Everything has a visual component, and we all find that entry point into a museum that gives us the way in.”
Freedman forever changed the game for retail and museum exhibits when she co-curated The Whitney’s Eckhaus Latta exhibit. “It was revolutionary for the museum,” Freedman said. “I had been at the museum for over a year when Chris Lew, the museum’s curator, had been following the Eckhaus Latta designers for a while. They had come to him with an idea for what they at the time were calling the Eckhaus Latta Gift Shop. It was a rough idea, and he talked to other people in the curatorial realm about it. Scott Rothkopf, the museum's senior deputy director, told him talk to Lauri Feedman, and this was a wildly groundbreaking idea. There had never been a project that was both retail and curatorial at The Whitney or anywhere.”
Brooklyn-based Eckhaus Latta has developed a cult following among those who want quality fashion, but don’t want to follow trends. “Mike and Zoe, the designers, are part of a community of artists who put the work in,” Freedman said. “They worked hard at the idea, and were really interested in the covalence of fashion and art, they were really interested in looking at that intersection and what it meant, and why museums kept asking them to do things. They wanted to advance their own vision and take the lead, and we were really interested to see where that lead would go.”
The Eckhaus Latta exhibit ended up taking over two years to put together, because nothing in a museum ever happens overnight. “There are more people that you can imagine behind the scene, it’s a very collaborative effort,” Freedman said.
While Eckhaus Latta was an exhibit very much at the intersection of fashion and art, Freedman believes that everything intersects with art. “Everything has a visual component, and we all find that entry point into a museum that gives us the way in,” Freedman said. “For some people coming into our museum it could be fashion, design, the retail shop, or even the view from the terrace.”
Freedman has managed to transform The Whitney’s retail aspect like never before, which in itself is pretty unordinary. She’s consistently in awe at the life she’s been able to lead. “I was a stay-at-home mom for 20 years. There weren’t a lot of people necessarily looking my way,” Freedman said. “The ability to stay home is an extraordinary privilege. I’m in awe by the life I’ve been able to live. The fact that I get to go back to work after 20 years to a job I’m inspired by everyday. If anything makes me unordinary it’s the chance to do everything I’ve been doing and appreciate it.”
The #UnordinaryWomen campaign has also been a boon for Lafayette 148. “The response to #UnordinaryWomen has far exceeded our expectations,” says Lafayette 148 president Liz Fraser. “The women’s stories are resonating with our customers, and new Lafayette 148 women sharing stories of their own. As a women-led company designing for women of all ages, this campaign is a natural extension of our values. We’re excited to enter this next chapter of #UnordinaryWomen to make an even bigger impact supporting She’s the First and girls’ education, while inspiring a new generation of strong, powerful women to discover us.”
Throughout the duration of the campaign, Lafayette 148 will highlight stories of the women on Instagram and Facebook, including quotes about how their mothers inspired them and thoughts about being a mother leading the next generation of #UnordinaryWomen.