Gabriela Hearst – Pre Spring/Summer 2016 Ready-To-Wear
If you want to understand the changes afoot in the world of luxury fashion, Gabriela Hearst’s new brand is a good place to look. Once upon a time, designers off in Paris or Milan—often men, but not always—would propose a vision of how their wealthy clients should dress and try to sell them on what was more or less a fantasy. Now, increasingly, those women are taking matters into their own hands. Hearst is a former model who comes from one of the oldest ranching families in Uruguay; she’s married to a grandson of William Randolph Hearst. In that “once upon a time” era of fashion, she’d have been a fixture in the front row of the couture shows. Last season, though, Hearst did the modern thing and launched a label made up of luxe versions of the stuff she already knew she wanted to wear—matter-of-fact clothes like knee-length leather and knife-pleated skirts, cozy knits, natty coats. The materials she used were unbelievably fine and there was a glimmer of romance in her aesthetic. Barneys New York scooped up the collection and will be stocking pieces from Hearst’s debut in all its stores.
Hearst’s clothes are incredibly appealing: It’s easy to see yourself wearing them. (Financing that habit is another matter.) But her challenge, with this second outing, was to prove that she has the imagination to renew that appeal, season in and season out. She rose to the occasion by upping the romance factor, introducing micro-floral silk prints and hand-embroideries with a pastoral tone, and trading in chunky sweaters for gossamer, body-hugging ribs, and knee-length skirts for hems that skimmed the floor. Though the collection didn’t lack for utilitarian items—a squared-off denim jumpsuit, to wit—or a sense of geometry, it erred on the whole toward softness and fluidity. The elevation was in the fabrications and the details—the windowpane zigzag of organza, equestrian-inspired metal hardware. You wouldn’t describe these clothes as challenging, but Hearst’s aesthetic is distinctive and resonant, and she is committed to the specialness of each of her pieces. Nothing looked tossed off. These days, that’s a recipe for success.