With their sixth Wolk Morais collection, Los Angeles-based designers Brian Wolk and Claude Morais seem to have found their footing in their adopted hometown. The Brooklyn transplants, who previously designed the line Ruffian, have stayed true to their Pop Art-inspired ethos, combining it with the elements of the city that most enthrall newcomers — the iconic Hollywood locations, street style and local artists.
Since their first outing in 2016 at an art gallery that exhibited the New School gang of painters, the duo has chosen site-specific locations for their biannual runway shows, which they label by number rather than season. Collection 3 unfurled at Giorgio’s nightclub at the Standard Hollywood, Collection 4 at the now-defunct French Market Café and Collection 5 at the kitschy hilltop Japanese restaurant Yamashiro.
“Last season when we were at Yamashiro, we were all looking over [the city view] at Los Angeles and we saw the Roosevelt Hotel sign and thought, ‘What another iconic place to do a show,’ so that’s how it all started,” said Wolk. “The collection was inspired by a combination of things, definitely Melrose Avenue street culture, where we go to the flea market every Saturday, and other things that are authentically Los Angeles like film and art that ground the city and the subculture.”
They have taken those influences and applied them to smart little dresses and tailored suits, which they have expanded with each collection. This season the suit was most prevalent, and featured cropped jackets, cropped high-waisted trousers and nipped-in waists.
Said Morais, “I think this post-gender thing has worked well for us. This season we nipped in the jacket and made more feminine suits for women and men. Last season was more masculine. Our goal was to freshen up the suit with more color ways, more feminine details.”
In terms of the black-and-white patterns and bright green, violet and blue color palette, Wolk said, “We’re always looking at iconic L.A. things and we saw the Peter Shire show at MOCA about the Memphis movement. He was the only Memphis designer who was not Italian and he was from Los Angeles, so when we saw the patterns and colors and combinations in that show that was completely inspiring for us.”
Morais called the post-punk, Memphis-inspired approach “so L.A.” “I think with our sixth collection we have taken our place here and the concept of what we do with the city as designers is pretty clear now,” he said.