The concept is luxe, elevated wardrobe basics — crisp cotton shirting, chunky knits, double-faced wool suiting, wrap coats and languid silk dresses and skirts — except there’s actually nothing “basic” about them, at least not in the hands of Kate Wendelborn. That sums up Protagonist, created in 2013 as an exclusive to The Line (Wendelborn’s sister, Morgan, cofounded the specialty retailer with Vanessa Traina Snow, who styled the fall presentation) and since expanded into global doors that include Barneys, The Webster and 10 Corso Como.
For her fifth collection, Wendelborn gravitated toward Arte Povera, the Italian art movement of the late Sixties, as well as the natural geometry and landscape of the Utah desert, the latter of which informed a graphic black-and-white print on a stunning wool jacquard coat. “I wanted everything to be very deliberate and crafted, and to look like there was a hand to it,” the designer said. To that end, she deconstructed a pair of jeans into impeccably fit denim trousers, and added delicate signs of wear to a high-waisted skirt in crackled calf leather. All of it was chic, modern and understated.