Front Row

Ulla Johnson SS19: Artisanal Globalism at the NYFW

More artisanal and bold than ever before, the Ulla Johnson Spring/Summer 2019 collection was a bigger surprise than expected. I had to cross the Williamsburg Bridge and defy traffic, yet the show was worth the ride. It took place at the Weylin – a building formerly know as the Williamsburgh Savings Bank and now an event space. Suspended 110 feet over the mosaic marble floor, its dome inspires awe, as editors put it. The huge columns were wrapped in raffia, a detail also used in some of Johnson’s looks.

For both aesthetics and sustainability purposes the designer patchworked fabric leftovers from part collections of the brand into exciting romantic looks. The prairie-inspired and Victorian elements mixed with ethnic references in a magical way.

Ruffles and ethereal fabrics are ‘bread & butter’ for the designer, yet this time were intertwined with intricate threadwork crafted by the Herero tribeswomen in Namibia and quilted details by the isolated African-American Gee’s Bend community in Alabama. The visual interplay was further reinforced by the batik technique and handwoven raffia in some of the dresses.

Maasai beaded aprons were surely a highlight and a hint at the brand’s effort to take the collection to the next level. There statement color, print, and texture clashes had a luxe bohemian feel. These looks work in the countryside but also in the city. You can pack them for a trip to the French Riviera and yet restyle them for urban occasions.

The whole SS19 collection is an homage to people’s craftsmanship across the world. I guess that this is the sophisticated direction the designer wants to take in the future. To design beautiful investment pieces of universal appeal. All the elegant editors attending the show appreciated the romance and the philosophy behind the tiered ruffles, the lace openwork, the floral prints, the billowy sleeves, the bold stripes, and the tribal motifs.

Accessories mattered as well, with masterfully crafted purses and amazing high-heel sandals, along the same ethnic lines. These clothes are destined to dress cool girls that appreciate the manufacturing process and the value inherent in handmade things!

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