Coming off a 20-year anniversary milestone, Ulla Johnson keeps on rolling. She recently traveled to Brazil to check on the intricately hand-woven shoes and bags she used in resort as an artisanal element to finish off feminine looks. São Paulo proved inspirational for its balance of modern architecture, culture and wilderness, leading Johnson to explore a meeting place of structure and ease in her signature bohemian romance.
She turned to the work of Hilma af Klint, an abstract painter in the 20th century, whose art employed a bold use of color, geometry and floral motifs. It inspired the exuberant palette of poppy yellow, red, magenta and lavender, as well as the floral patterns of ruffle-adorned dresses and opulent embroidery. A standout dress, made in India, for instance, featured paneling that took eight hours to embroider, handmade crochet trim and flower tassel, and handfinishing that makes it an emotional buy, and a keepsake that’ll last more than a season. Almost all the prints this season were shown on the reverse for a lived-in, time-honored effect. Customers will appreciate the fringy handknits woven in Peru and other hand-braided, hand-woven bags made in the Philippines and Spain.
She steered silhouettes to be soft and structured, focusing in on the waist while providing volume in the sleeves or origami pleating, and elevating structured fabrics like pastel-dyed denim with novel flourishes. “Having fun within what we do and embracing the joy of fashion is important,” Johnson said at a preview. “We get to really design from our hearts and I think it resonates.”