Zero + Maria Cornejo didn’t show four men’s looks on the runway in September for nothing. The designer label will launch a men’s capsule collection for spring exclusively at its boutiques and No. 8 in New York, followed by a full collection for fall that will be wholesaled.
This story first appeared in the November 17, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“People kept asking for it,” said Maria Cornejo. “I have two male designers, a son who’s very fashionable and a husband. I love men’s clothes and I love androgyny.” Her signature pieces, translated for men, are the basis of the line, which includes a “concave” rain jacket, a double-layered shirt in textured cotton, a seamless shirt in jersey and black tailored pants cut on the bias.
“In men’s we can embrace shapes that we’ve done before, like the boy jacket, the boy shirt. Our classics. It will still have my way of cutting things, but in men’s fabrics,” Cornejo said.
There will be collared cotton shirts, oversize cotton knits, cotton fleece blazers, washed polyester drop pants and drawstring shorts in spring wool.
The label is known for designs that are spare and architectural yet feminine. She started Zero + Maria Cornejo as a NoLIta boutique in 1998 and has since garnered a following of editors and independent professionals including First Lady Michelle Obama. Signature details include pockets inset on the seam, mandarin collars and zippers.
“I was feeling in the women’s I wanted to do things more tailored, so it felt like a natural progression to men’s,” she said.
The fall collection will be shown on the runway with women’s in February. Chilean-born Cornejo thinks of her male and female clients as a couple, but doesn’t dictate entire outfits to either gender. And although some of her designs are unisex, she would not like to see them in matching his-and-hers style.
“I don’t think Mr. Obama will wear it,” she quipped.