By Erin Moonyeen Haley
Nuances of the nomadic have always featured heavily in the underlying thesis of Ulla Johnson shows and fashion spreads. Palm trees, desert vistas, indigo blue seas and fulfillment of wanderlust have long been a motif in her fashion campaigns. And it’s no wonder. While Johnson was born and raised in Manhattan, her archeologist parents instilled within her an innate curiosity about the world and a hunger to explore beyond the cityscape.
Now a designer, philanthropist and advocate for artisans in rural communities, Johnson’s Autumn/Winter 2023 ready-to-wear show during New York Fashion Week reiterated her itinerant philosophies and outlook. Her clothes also represent Johnson’s belief that women should be able to shop for comfort and chicness without feeling the need to constantly exorcise the demons of last year’s trends.
With stars like Katie Holmes and Lily Allen in attendance and the city of New York offering panoramic views, (the Empire State building has several cameos in video footage), models strutted along a hand-woven carpet as opposed to a runway, wearing mismatched fabrics, satins and natural tones with periodic pops of sour apple green, raspberry and gold.
The result was a look for the urban vagabond who is as comfortable with sand between the toes as they are with asphalt beneath the feet.
Made from 100% silk, emerald dresses revealed plenty of shoulders, and the eye-catching skirts and peplums gave a flirty flounce with every step.
Leather the color of cherries jubilee flambé cinched waists and was used to make loose harem pants, tight trench coats and calf-length skirts. Whether the shoes were mustard-yellow or sienna brown, the tassels added a moccasin element courtesy of leather fringe.
Amid the caramels and the russets, gold accented ensembles with a Renaissance foil flourish.
Mint greens splashed in seafoam chiffon waves while puffed shoulders made silhouettes all the more dramatic.
Berries and merlot reds appeased a desire for regalness, especially when used with satin couture.
Textures were varied, from faux furs to satins to cotton, making Johnson's love of textiles all the more apparent.
Eyelet crochet work and cashmere sweaters popped alongside the patterns that called to mind faraway places.
Color schemes remained earthbound, a constant reminder that these are clothes destined for a vagabond lifestyle.
Images Courtesy of Vogue