The moment feels right to celebrate Ulla Johnson, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based entrepreneur and mother of three who has earned a cult following for her contemporary brand of polished bohemian frocks. And with springtime around the corner (plus a Coachella-filled Instagram feed this weekend), even New Yorkers could be in the mood for one of her irresistible cotton dresses. Thursday night Barneys threw a dinner in her honor — the first party of its kind in the new Fred’s Downtown — that drew the likes of Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Sarah Sophie Flicker and Jessica Joffe.
“It seems like she’s an overnight success because of all the attention she’s been getting lately, but Ulla has actually had her business since 2000,” said Barneys fashion director Tomoko Ogura. “Tonight is about celebrating the friends and moments that brought her here.”
Johnson’s line is known for its global outlook, and conversation at dinner — as at most fashion dinners — eventually meandered its way onto upcoming travel plans. Johnson leaves for Peru this weekend to check on her production there. She swears by Peru’s quality for manufacturing. “The way the women dress is incredible,” she said. “And it is really one of the only places in the world that the government really seems to be keeping its artisanal tradition alive.”
But ultimately, the designer explained, that is what her brand is about. “We’re really developing our own language with the artisans down there. To do things in their own traditional way but then also make it something that, like, people at Barneys can also buy has been a really interesting endeavor.” As an example, she pointed to the shoes she was wearing, stiletto heels finished with woolen knotted pom-poms, tied by hand in Peru. Very bohemian, and very Barneys.