Gabriela Hearst is up for Womenswear Designer of the Year at the CFDA Awards, just a year after she was nominated for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent, but the real proof of her skills and success was the steady stream of editors at her showroom today.
Hearst was presenting her new Resort collection; it was one of about a dozen appointments on the calendar and by far the buzziest of any of them. Award or no award, a little over three years after she launched, hers is the New York label that women in the know are clamoring to wear. And some well-placed celebrities, too. We overheard a stylist promising to be in touch about an order of knit dresses for an acclaimed client. Hearst was delighted, but unfazed. She is not a designer in it for the fame, what gets her genuinely excited are fine materials and superior craftsmanship.
Both were much in evidence in this new collection, starting with the hand-stitched accordion shoulders on fine leather trenches, the corset ribbing on tailored jackets, and the truly astonishing binding work on the inside of what was an otherwise effortless day dress. Few other designers make this kind of effort; the results would be prohibitively dear, but Hearst has nurtured a clientele that appreciates the quality of her garments. Suiting has become a specialty, and the appeal of this season’s was the color palette, which included the navy she was wearing, as well as burgundy and vivid pink. The fine gauge knitwear that that celebrity stylist was so excited about was equally vibrant, as were the hand knits made in Uruguay that she modeled after the Costa Rican singer and rule breaker Chavela Vargas’s ponchos.
One of the most compelling things about Hearst is her commitment to the environment. (Is it me, or is it mostly women who are leading this charge?) She’s set a goal to be a completely plastics-free company by April of 2019. That means, among other things, replacing all of the plastic bags her garments are shipped in with compostable Tipa packaging, which breaks down in 24 weeks as opposed to 500 years. Ambitious, yes. But Hearst has given us every indication that she’s up to the task.