Abstract swirls she’s been doodling to relax since she was a kid, crochet knits made in Italy by women artisans bringing their individual pieces together into one, sustainable upcycled denim discovered through a shared conversation at the British Fashion Awards…fashion’s earth mama Gabriela Hearst designs in such an intimate, feminine way, how can you not be charmed?
This resort 2023 collection started with a dream of a chieftain woman on a horse, on top of fire mountains, which she spun into a powerful lineup of handcraft-intensive knits, armor-like bodice dresses and debossed leather coats and accessories establishing those signature swirls as a kind of new alt-logo.
“I want my women to feel very boss,” she said.
Hearst herself has been riding horses so long, she can’t remember when she first learned. And she tapped into her Uruguayan equestrian heritage for the leather working that ran through the collection. There were lean coats and jackets in swirl debossed leather with whipstitched lapels and swirl-engraved concho buttons. Boots, totes and sandals for female gauchos, too. And a showstopping black silk cady dress with blouson sleeves and a deep V leather bodice was tailor made for Aspen if her brand pops up again there this holiday season.
The swirls also made their way into extraordinary crochet lace dresses. Handmade knitwear is somewhat of an obsession for Hearst, from the seasonal collaborations she does with the Manos del Uruguay collective, to the mélange yarn sweater and skirt sets she routinely turns out.
This season, she experimented with mixed pointelle colorblocking on a fiery-hued bodice that was needle felted to a black, woven, pleated skirt for a dress that was a feat of engineering.
She also brought in traditional cable knit on a hug of a white poncho, inspired by her husband’s love of the sea — not polluting yachts, she clarified, just sailboats.
The menswear assortment was super minimal with clean cuts and a monochromatic palette. Hearst said that while she’s willing to take more chances with her womenswear, she is “very, very respectful” of her male customer and knows that she needs to take baby steps before making any dramatic changes. So she didn’t deviate from the message she has created up until now, as evidenced by the peacoats, double-face trenches and cable-knit sweaters.
She did offer a personal touch with the sailor utility coat that was fastened at the neck with a custom designed closure that was half stirrup/half sailor shackle. It was inspired by her own marriage. “He’s a water person, I’m a land person,” she said.
Another family reference was a sweater with the portrait of a warrior woman on the front, actually her mother, Sonia.
Hearst may be a dreamer, but when it comes to dressing women, she’s always been down-to-earth, which is why denim is often part of her vision. This season’s was made in collaboration with East London Vintage Denim, or E.L.V., which launched in 2018 and creates bespoke and ready-to-wear two-tone or matched upcycled denim pieces.
Founder Anne Foster, whom Hearst met at the British Fashion Awards, has said it takes the same amount of water one person drinks in 13 years to produce a single pair of new jeans. E.L.V. only uses seven liters per pair to wash post-consumer denim waste.
For Hearst, she made upcycled flares and denim shirts patch-worked with curving lines, evoking the signature swirls.
Heavy silk bias cut dresses, some with off-shoulder ties, silk cashmere suiting and blouses, bodysuits and comfy reflexology sandals rounded out the relaxed, everyday wardrobing options for women on the go.
Dividing her time between Chloe and her own label, Hearst knows a bit about that, sharing that she recently cut her own hair, which she hadn’t done in years, because she didn’t have time to go to the salon.
“I have a lot of talents,” she laughed. “I can tarot card read, I take them to parties, only now I’m not charging because I don’t need it.”
If this fashion thing doesn’t work out, she’s got options. —Jean Palmieri contributed to this report.