Zero + Maria Cornejo RTW Fall 2021

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Let’s not forget, Maria Cornejo won a Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for being able to make a garment from a single piece of cloth with no seams, as well as other mad feats of geometry.

“It’s my time. I love a challenge,” she said of New York fashion’s scrappy, make-do moment during a Zoom preview of fall 2021.

“We have had our budgets reduced to basically nothing, so it’s trying to be creative with less and less and still dream a little,” she said of her latest collection, two-thirds of which was made using environmentally responsible textiles such as Eco Denim Earth from post-consumer waste organic cotton, as well as recycled cashmere and past season fabrics.

Zero + Maria Cornejo RTW Fall 2021

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“The bulk of the collection is more casual because that’s what people are responding to,” she said of the lightweight coats, boiler suits, cargo pants and military-look jackets in sturdy denim or an urban camouflage mixing ikat, leopard and zig-zag. Velcro waist tabs, cinched ankles, zippers and hoods added to the utility quotient, and some pieces are reversible.

Nodding to her commitment to supporting craft not only in New York City, where 70 percent of the collection is made, but elsewhere, her recycled cashmere sweaters made by a women’s co-op in Bolivia come with the names of the individual artisans who made them sewn inside.

Also in the casual camp, Cornejo deployed her signature draping skills on easygoing jersey pieces, did shirt dressing her way with a great-looking cowl-neck, sleeveless, beige awning stripe dress, and offered new iterations of her beloved shrug jackets and stretch leggings in leather. She also dipped into athleisure, with lipstick red brushed terry pieces in her interesting geometric cuts.

“At the same time, I want to go dancing, be in Paris and be social,” Cornejo lamented, echoing what’s being missed in fashion and in life right now.

Her iridescent purple lame “Bowie” jacquard jumpsuit would certainly be the life of a party (even of one). “Nobody needs any more clothes,” said Cornejo, “But you want to dress up and get excited.”


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