Jonathan Cohen Has an Entirely New Outlook on Fashion

Jonathan Cohen Has an Entirely New Outlook on Fashion

The last "normal" fashion month to take place — in February 2020 — before the world turned upside down was notable for many reasons, not least because many of those Fall collections shown on the runway never even got to be produced (just ask Marc Jacobs).

Indeed, at the start of the pandemic, buyers and retailers were canceling purchase orders left and right, leaving many designers big and small without vendors that season. Among them was Jonathan Cohen, the New York-based designer known for his intricate floral prints and elevated, upcycled creations.

"I think everyone took this time to question what they're doing and why they're doing it," said Cohen, who ended up skipping the next season (Spring 2021) altogether. "It was nice not to jump into a collection right away and absorb what was going on around us."

Instead, the brand focused much of its time and energy on refining the JC world across different lifestyle categories — think hair accessories, masks and pillows — through his sustainable line The Studio, a project that uses discarded fabrics and scraps amassed over the years. His Flower Shop of custom digital floral arrangements also kept his team quite busy, not to mention dressing a certain First Lady.

So when it came time to design another ready-to-wear collection again, Cohen knew that he wanted to approach this season with more purpose and intent while still building on his sustainability initiatives. For Fall 2021, they moved their production to Italy to save on shipping emissions and costs, utilized remnant fabrics from past seasons and worked with deadstock materials from Carolina Herrera. He also introduced a new underpinning category made of recycled polyester to make leggings, T-shirts and day dresses.

And unlike past seasons, this collection (and those going forward) will be divided into three deliveries, the first of which will be available immediately on Jonathan Cohen's website and with retailers — a sort of mini version of see-now-buy-now, if you will.

"This collection is the culmination of a series of fundamental shifts that occurred over the past year in terms of our business model, production, personal creative perspective and the broader cultural moment," Cohen said. "It represents a new outlook on fashion as a means of individual expression and conscientious choice."

His latest outing, titled "What Dreams May Come," offers more of the personal storytelling aspect of his designs Cohen is known for. The designer, whose family is from Mexico City and immigrated to California, was inspired by his mother's gardens in his childhood home of San Diego where he spent the first few months of quarantine last year.

Meanwhile, the smudge effect of his signature floral prints (magnolias, tulips and ranunculus) are in reference to the film What Dreams May Come, where Robin Williams touches the flowers in his wife's paintings. "Florals have always anchored my aesthetic yet being in my mother's garden deepened my appreciation of flowers, the importance of the comfort and beauty they provide," he says.

The silhouettes are equally non-fussy and feminine, with fluid and tailored shirt-dresses, A-line pleated skirts and embroidered knitwear offering a sense of carefree glamour, while some of the more specialty pieces include a gown and chambray denim suit hand-painted with oversized floral motifs, adding to the idea of "joyful ease" that we could all get behind this summer and beyond.

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Cohen