To the uninitiated, looking at a watch with complications doesn’t tell the whole story. When the maker of said watch explains what’s beneath the surface, it starts to make sense why even an amateur horologist gets excited. The same might be said of Gabriela Hearst‘s latest collection. While the beautiful luxe craftsmanship of Hearst’s easy elegance designs prevailed, the presentation didn’t have the same runway impact of previous collections. Look under the surface a bit, and the intricacy and depth of the clothes are something to be thrilled about.

Gabriela Hearst – Fall-Winter2023 – 2024 – Womenswear – New York – © ImaxTree

For Fall/Winter 2023, Hearst referenced artist Eileen Gray whom she discovered while visiting Ireland. The idea to explore Gray, a designer, architect, and social pioneer who fell victim to the sexism of her era and was largely denied credit for her work until after she died, was cemented when the designer channeled a phallic-like drawing that resembled Gray’s works prior to discovering her.
The designer drew inspiration from her furniture designs, architectural designs, and color palette. Gray’s most famous work, the E1027 table, a circular chrome side table, informed two gowns in the finale with side cutouts and a chrome hip belt underneath. (More than one guest noticed a Tom Ford for Gucci resemblance.) The Black Brick Screen circa 1925 informed an interlocking rectangle motif found in leathers that appeared on a trench, tote, and skirt, for example. The leatherwork drove home the artisanal nature of Hearst’s work and demonstrated the label’s acumen for craft.
The show bore plenty of examples of luxe, quiet elegance. From luscious heavy knits, exquisite tailoring on suits that segued between male to female versions effortlessly, to pops of color that punctuated the sophisticated lineup emphasizing a long, lean silhouette, a trend seen on the runways. Derby boots, brogues, and military-inspired boots—a collaboration with the understated British heritage brand Trickers—grounded the looks.
Deceased architect Ricardo Bofill informed the vast cavernous space of the out-of-the-way Agger Fish building where Hearst showed. A geometric structure hung over the mirrored runway designed to recall cubic cells and nuclei, which is at home with the designer’s current fascination with nuclear fusion. It was dramatic and imposing in scale, as was the entire set, with guests set back in bleacher seating. Seeing designer chum Stuart Vevers as Hearst greeted well-wishers and friends such as Lauren Hutton and jeweler Ana Khouri backstage, one couldn’t help but wonder if the Gabriela Hearst show should borrow a play from Coach and scale back the runway so the audience could see the splendor of her work up close.

Brandon Maxwell – Fall-Winter2023 – 2024 – Womenswear – New York – © ImaxTree

Earlier in the day, designer Brandon Maxwell showed his Fall/Winter 2023 collection in the intimate configuration of his runway. Allowing for the close inspection was a service the designer did himself and his audience.
Backstage following his Fall/Winter 2023 runway show speaking to, Brandon Maxwell admitted he hadn’t slept the night before his 10 am time slot. It wasn’t evident as Maxwell looked as clean and crisp as the starched white shirts fashioned as dresses featured prominently in his collection. The whole exercise had a fresh feeling, but Maxwell assured us we’d seen it before.
“I’ve been looking at the past with a full focus on moving forward and taking stock of what is core to the brand DNA, and I think that I am educated enough to do better now. They look more refined because I am more refined now,” he offered.
A bell shape on a garment’s sleeves and hips harkens back to his second collection but was formally executed in a cumbersome crepe. This season the shape became fluid with soft knits.
The collection spelled retail gold; familiar pieces but reworked and delivered in ways that felt of the moment, even if those ideas had come before. The way Maxwell executed these ideas, especially the fabrics used, felt lush.
His opening looks proposed a novel way to imagine the Bermuda short; in a sculpted full leg with prominent cuff detail executed in satin, wool, and leather.
Leather is a house staple, and this season it took center stage as structured ball skirts, cropped-to-the-hilt jackets, and an interesting apron-style brown leather long dress. Expanding beyond basic black added to these pieces’ intrigue.
Long was missive throughout as staples such as the men’s shirt, a chunky zip cardigan, and sweeping overcoats grazed the floor. It added to a sense of coziness that could double as urban armor. Without elaborating why Maxwell said it felt reflective of his life now. “My life is feeling cozy, and I am prioritizing peace for myself. Hopefully, that is reflected in the collection,” he added. It sure was.

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