What does a woman wear when she’s voting, protesting, or running for office? The answer is, of course, whatever she damn pleases, but in the waning days of New York Fashion Week, Zero + Maria Cornejo brought visions of a slinky empowerment, writes Alaina Demopoulos.
While designers such as VFiles and Escada are still enamored with traditional ‘80s power suits (shoulder pads and all), Cornejo celebrated her models’ forms in low necklines, cinched waists, and figure-hugging satin.
The Chilean-born, London-educated, New York-honed designer has worked in the city for 20 years, earning loyal fans such as Michelle Obama and Tilda Swinton due to pieces that radiate an unfussy femininity. The women who walked Cornejo’s runway were not all models; the cast included activists, artists, musicians, and one medical student.
Cornejo has been an advocate for sustainable fashion; most of her collection is produced in her hometown of ethically-sourced material. On a fashion week held just days prior to the New York primary election, politics was clearly on Cornejo’s mind. Seat cards urged visitors to cast their vote, and models wore wristbands that said, “I am a voter.”
Along with bias cut silk midis, jumpsuits and one-pieces were plentiful. One frayed denim set resembled something a deconstructed Rosie the Riveter might wear. A print by Chilean artist Gracia Barrios was seen on many shirts and dresses, featuring individual faces of women.
Luminaries in the crowd included Padma Lakshmi, Laura Linney, and Sydelle Noel, but the mass of attendees resembled Barrios’ pattern: all kinds of women had crowded in to view the show. Such turnout was indicative that, among many other things, strong and sensual are not mutually exclusive.
Cornejo offered a new take on ruching, placing it on a deep neckline.