This runway debut has been a long time coming for Conner Ives.
Although just 25 years old, the American-born designer has been working in the fashion industry for more than a decade now, starting with a job in New York’s Garment District at age 15 and quickly moving up to designing everything from Adwoa Aboah’s Met Gala gown to deadstock capsules for Browns while still a student at Central Saint Martins.
“It’s great to just be a designer now and not try to juggle everything, all the while your tutors hate you for being distracted at school,” said Ives, who graduated in the midst of the pandemic in 2020.
He used the extra downtime to really identify what he wants to bring to the table — and his debut collection proved that good things do take time. Paying homage to “the bygone era of fashion” — ’90s supermodels, crazy fashion personalities, and the thrill of the runway included — Ives offered a feel-good, energetic lineup that showcased his potential to fulfill his ambitions and build a fully fledged label.
His signature T-shirt dresses, made from vintage band T-shirts, were elevated with floral appliqués and playful crochet trims, but he also added printed denim to the mix; scarf print dresses channeling a bohemian flair, and a series of demi-couture stunners featuring intricate embroidery, bold shades and striking geometric prints.
Models, including Edie Campbell and Paloma Elsesser, showed them off against a background of old-school R&B, which immediately lit up showgoers’ faces.
“I have this desire to be the designer who does it all,” added Ives, whose ultimate source of inspiration is American lifestyle designers.
He’s also melding this nostalgia for old-school glamour with a modern-day perspective on the “responsibility it takes to start a fashion label” today, by choosing to only show once a year.
“There’s no point touting slow fashion yet showing multiple times a year. I see what I do as new and want to lead by example.”