One of the lasting impacts of cult sitcom Friends is its endless supply of prime 90s fashion inspiration. And artist Am Schmidt has a predilection for Rachel Green's closet, in particular. Not only did Jennifer Anniston's beloved characterinspire an eponymous hairstyle, she was something of a clotheshorse. In homage to Rachel's mini skirts, spaghetti straps, and overalls, Schmidt recreated four of Anniston's most iconic looks for a recent solo exhibition at 321 Gallery in Brooklyn.
The four outfits on display were all donned by Rachel in the show's first season. Schmidt presents them hung elegantly on garment racks, often presented in multiples to reflect the realities of TV production, which necessitate duplicate costumes in case an article of clothing is irreparably damaged. Each rack functions as a distinct sculptural work, named after the season, episode, and specific scene in which the outfit was worn.
Schmidt's desire to transpose a sitcom character's outfits into art has a somewhat elongated history. In 2015 and 2016, the artist made a shot-for-shot remake of Dirty Dancing with her as the female lead (and sole character). While shooting the work, a garment rack for her character was parked in the hall of her apartment, and as the project went on, the artist grew increasingly entranced by the almost sculptural object.
Once her reshoot was over, Schmidt decided that the direction for her next project would be shifted from filmic recreation to wardrobe replication. "I fell in love with the idea immediately," she tells Creators. "My first thought to myself as a possible stand-in character for this idea was Rachel Green from Friends. After Rachel functioned as my mental stand-in for months and months, I realized I'd be an idiot not to go with my instinctual choice."
Unsurprisingly, Rachel wore many more than four outfits throughout the 236-episode run of Friends, asserting Rachel's Wardrobe as a fragmentary recreation of an otherwise huge character wardrobe, which is precisely Schmidt's intention. "I don't have an interest in exhaustively collecting and displaying all her wardrobes," the artist explains. "All the outfits Rachel ever wore are already there for the world to see; in the TV show itself, on the internet, on Netflix, etc. I don't have any interest in trying to compete with the internet."
Schmidt's interest, instead, lies in making a subjective selection of personally resonating outfits, whether due to the aesthetic of the clothes or the importance of the scene to the artist. "I chose outfits simply by the ones that struck a chord with me. Choosing which wardrobes I want to recreate makes them discrete sculptures, as opposed to one big indexical installation or set. These works are not a set; they are a series, but each work is distinctly its own work."