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New York

Ulla Johnson

Spring 2018 Ready-to-Wear

New York

Ulla Johnson

Spring 2018 Ready-to-Wear

New York

BY Hilary Shepherd

September 8, 2017

Ulla Johnson has been meditating on protection and transparency, and the idea of clothes as a form of armor—cloaks, she said, between the wearer and the world. The starting point for her Spring 2018 collection was simple: soft organza in serene white. “I wanted something very pure, very clear,” she told me backstage. To harden things up a bit, she sprinkled in notes of corsetry, waterproof nylon, dyed denim, and streams of bright neon. “It was almost like injecting a spine into it.” (If you’re wondering if this was a subtle nod to the turbulent state of our country, you’re correct.) 

This is only Johnson’s second runway show, and just when you thought she couldn’t possibly top the dreaminess of her Fall 2017 set, she went ahead and did just that, transporting guests into a garden of pink and green flowers, courtesy of her longtime collaborator Sarah Ryhanen, who also decorated her new store on Bleecker Street. The runway? A long, silver mirror that recalled a stream of clear water. “It was this idea of clarity, openness, and reflection, which I think are all very important things to be thinking about right now,” she said. It was languid, poetic, and stunning, like something out of a storybook. 

A high-low juxtaposition permeated the collection, particularly in terms of materiality. Draped suede and thin jacquard contrasted eyelet lace and cascading ruffles, while puffed sleeves and silk tulle lent a sweetness to the strong-and-sexy elements, which even spanned into the beauty—razor-sharp cat eyes and tight, warrior-like ponytails. 

I was pleased to see she’s making a serious push into accessories, introducing several drool-worthy bags and shoes, inspired by the hand-braided dancing shoes found in Serbia, where her mother is from. “I have a huge affinity for handmade things,” she said. “I wanted to adopt that language, but elevate it into something very modern and urban, so we made them stilettos.” 

There’s a lot on the horizon for Johnson, including a potential new store in L.A. But for now, she can rest assured that she delivered exactly what her customer was no doubt hoping for. 

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