Brand History (How A Line Lost Its Cool)
With its debut show, in 2000, Imitation of Christ established itself as the ne plus ultra of hip. Designers Tara Subkoff and Matt Damhave had all the right friends (Chloë Sevigny was creative director) and a credibly subversive message: They would never make new clothes, just reconstruct what was already around. Now Imitation will show in Bryant Park. But that doesn’t mean the fashion Establishment has embraced it. Over the years, the line has managed to alienate the very people—namely, fashion editors—who were once intrigued by it. — Jacob Bernstein

September 2000: The first show, held in an East Village funeral parlor, sends up the “mass reproduction of thrift-store clothing.” (A vintage YSL T-shirt is graffitied bring me the head of tom ford. It’s extremely limited seating, but the lucky few, like Vogue’s Grace Coddington, are all raves.

September 2001
: Models are seated in the front row, while editors are forced to walk the runway. The New York Times calls it a “hoot,” but some guests pine for their seating assignments.

February 2002: A mock auction (with editors as bidders) at Sotheby’s. The talk of the show, per WWD: Are Damhave and Subkoff “(A) shutting down their fashion line altogether, (B) busting up their partnership or (C) actually going to make something less expensive, that the retailers who support them can sell easily”? Answer: B.

September 2002
: In an ode to Helmut Newton, half-naked models wield vacuums (noisily) in a furniture showroom.

September 2003: Channeling old-world Hollywood, Subkoff sends out models against a backdrop of Dietrich films. Plus a tap dancer who “went on for, like, 25 minutes,” recalls one attendee. “I wanted to rip off her tap shoes.”

September 8, 2004: A midtown show will be easier on editors (no more slogs to out-of-the-way runways), but also signals the final loss of downtown cred.