ZERO + MARIA CORNEJO AW15’16 READY-TO-WEAR NEW YORK FASHION WEEK
Some designers pay actresses to wear their clothes on the red carpet. The basic rule is, the bigger the brand, the bigger the payday. A designer like Maria Cornejo, who operates without an international conglomerate at her back, doesn’t have the budget for such things. If you see an actress, or an artist for that matter, wearing her pieces on the party or premiere circuit, it’s because there’s a genuine affinity between them. Cornejo counts the likes of Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker, and Tara Donovan as her clients. Does it get any cooler than that? Backstage, Cornejo explained that her new Fall collection was indebted to them—not their artwork, or the particular clothes they wear, per se, but, as she put it, their quirkiness. “In an age of sameness, it’s a luxury to be a true independent,” she said backstage.
As our global world becomes flatter and more familiar, it gets harder for designers who don’t pay obeisance to the trends to make it. Three cheers, then, for the stripy mohair jackets and the just-this-side-of-zany black-and-white optic prints Cornejo used on a strapless dress and a mismatched jacket and pants. Her collection looked like nothing else. If she made changes, they were subtle and gradual rather than major overhauls. Her shearlings, for instance, had a new grandeur about them, with deep bands of the stuff below the waist. The footwear had taken a bold step forward, too—see the knee-high boots with the built-in fringe down the back, and the saddle shoes-turned-booties rendered in fuzzy pony hair. Difference was definitely the message when it came to Dick Page’s off-kilter eyebrows and the braided fauxhawks of James Pecis. Cornejo leaned on textural all-black clothes for after dark. But nothing says independent quite like her don’t-take-your-eyes-off-of-me drapy red separates.