Fall / Winter 2017
For Jonathan Cohen’s Fall 2017 collection, inspiration came from a glimmer of the past; four or so minutes out of Look at the Pictures, a 2016 documentary about the life and work of one of New York’s most legendary artists, Robert Mapplethorpe. Those four minutes captured the genesis of a collaboration that's since become representative of an era: in the film, the boundary-pushing artist and provocateur photographs a reluctant Carolina Herrera, the unapologetically elegant (and utterly conservative) social fixture turned then-fashion ingenue. It’s this very dynamism— between Herrera’s regal remove and Mapplethorpe’s fascination with both beauty and the grotesque—that informs the Fall 2017 collection. The result is an electric pas de deux between the subversive and the elegant; the light behind the heat.
An orchid print inspired by Mapplethorpe’s own fixation on flowers runs through the collection, blurred and overlapping, as if seen through Mapplethorpe’s (occasionally chemically enhanced) gaze. This contrasts with the ladylike silhouettes; a balletic frock with a full skirt, the romantically deconstructed asymmetry of a sweeping pleated taffeta blouse. The orchids appear on silk and hammered satin in a brightly colorful print—a palette inspired by the work of photographer Sara Cwynar—as well as a metallic jacquard cut into jackets with nipped waists and narrow tuxedo pants, slim gowns with deconstructed shoulders, and generous cocoon coats.
Flowing robe dresses and slip skirts cut on the bias, creamy cashmere coats and scarves with brightly colored patches in Saga mink express the eros and drama of art and life. Trim and ready suiting and sleek dresses in orchid purple or deep black boast satin lapels, narrow belts or twisting sleeves and ties up the back. The slash skirt returns—this time in black leather and swiss dot, or purple and plum suede—alongside decadent ribbed knits to be pulled on over or under, occasionally with orchid intarsia.
Footwear, a new development for the brand, is designed in collaboration with George Esquivel, whose Southern California atelier creates each pair by hand. Here, Esquivel and Cohen employ the collection's brocades as knee-high lace-up block-heeled boots or androgynous smoking slippers that coordinate or play off the clothes. The results, much like Herrera and Mapplethorpe, combine a modern aesthetic with a timeless sensibility—all the better to expertly walk the line between suggestive and sophisticated.