A rose is a rose is a rose. Except when it isn’t. Like, say, when it’s a Jonathan Cohen bloom made from upcycled leather petals with a metal stud at the center. Drawing inspiration from the revolutionary creative impulses of punk rock and Impressionist painting, the Jonathan Cohen Spring 2024 collection invites us to reconsider the designer’s signature pretty florals.
Today Claude Monet’s water lilies, Auguste Renoir’s chrysanthemums, and Berthe Morisot’s roses are often used as calendar art. But when the Impressionists presented their first exhibition in Paris in 1874, it was an artistic scene as edgy as that of the iconic New York punk rock club CBGB where one of Cohen’s favorite musicians, Patti Smith, performed a century later. Critics panned the Impressionists’ compositions—canvases covered in small blobs of paint which mix in the eye when viewed from a distance—for their unfinished, sketch-like appearance.
Cohen plays with painterly effects in his Spring 2024 floral prints. A tailored suit and cutout dress featuring the out of focus white and blue Distorted Amaryllis print look like an Impressionist canvas viewed close up. The Azurite Petal print, a collection of loose “petals” on a solid ground seen on a cropped jacket and sleeveless ballgown, is actually the designer’s iPad painting of azurite specimens in the American Museum of Natural History’s Halls of Gems and Minerals. The Warped Mosaic print seen on a caftan and lace-trimmed maxi skirt appears to be a repeating pattern of amaryllis
Similarly, architectural box pleat jackets and pintuck skirts in white tweed feature colorful hand-stitched details meant to look like tiny brushstrokes. A selection of darkly romantic black leather separates including an A-line miniskirt, peplum bustier tops, and flower-embroidered corset belts take cues from punk fashion.
This season features a new collaboration with Larroudé, with the footwear brands’s best-selling Dolly platform sandal, Ivy ruffle flat, and Kate knee-high boot given the JC upcycling treatment via floral fabrics and appliqués made from scrap leather and metal studs. Returning collaborators Gigi Burris and Péro contributed multi-color raffia bucket hats lined with fabric strips and a hand-embroidered organza coat covered in delicate blooms. Upcycled fabric remnants also appear as garment linings.
Spring 2024 marks Cohen’s return to New York Fashion Week after a three year hiatus. Accompanied by acoustic renditions of Siouxie and the Banshees, Hole, Fiona Apple, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and, of course, Patti Smith, the presentation is staged in the decadent antique brass chandeliered Bard Room at Hotel Chelsea, whose storied halls the punk poet laureate once roamed.