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New York

Zero + Maria Cornejo

Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear

New York

Zero + Maria Cornejo

Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear

New York

BY Katharine K. Zarrella

February 14, 2017

This season, numerous designers have used the term “strong women” when discussing their collections. Maria Cornejo joined that group with her Fall 2017 outing. Though, to be honest, Cornejo pretty much always designs for strong women.

“Last winter, the girl was quite militant, and for summer, she was very free-spirited,” Cornejo explained. “I was trying with the team to get somewhere in the middle, where she’s still strong but also sensual and quite lush.”

That message came across loud and clear off the bat with a black velvet cut-out-shoulder top, a three-quarter-length silk skirt, and knee-high square-toed boots. It was rich and romantic, but also had bite.

The palette was largely neutral and featured the earthy camels, blacks, wines, and coppers we’ve come to expect from Cornejo. But then, bam, she sent out a series of luscious red looks that had the front row salivating.

A velvet v-neck dress in said hue, draped in one of Cornejo’s signature, soft silhouettes, was effortless but commanded attention.

In fact, the collection was filled with such dichotomies. These clothes, from the wide-leg leather trousers and shearling jackets to the boxy, double-faced coats and languid velvet dresses, were simultaneously serene and bold, confident and calming. Indeed, Cornejo achieved the middle ground she was striving for.

Always environmentally conscious, the designer further explored environmentally friendly fabrics and production. For instance, her silks were printed using minimal water, and all of her knitwear was made of recycled cashmere. “We’re trying, wherever possible, to be more sustainable,” Cornejo said.

There were no overt political references in the clothes, but Cornejo, who was born in Chile, made sure her stance on the current state of political affairs was known. She and her design team came out at the end of the show wearing the CFDA’s Planned Parenthood pins, and on the back of the show notes, a statement read: “As always, we celebrate the rich diversity of talent that’s so intrinsic to our community.” Below, all of Cornejo’s models were listed by name alongside their home countries, which spanned from Senegal and Russia to Uganda and Lithuania.

“I think that, as designers, our duty is to fight with beauty,” said Cornejo. “We’re such a diverse community and we stand up for everything that is good.”

Her gesture was a powerful one—resistance doesn’t always come in the form of a t-shirt.

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