There’s a surge this season among designers referencing “empowerment” as their inspiration. Though it’s easy to intuit why, it’s often not readily apparent in their collections. Except when they go on to describe an element of “armor” in some of their shapes. Maria Cornejo cites both ideas as being mirrored in her fall collection for Zero + Maria Cornejo. And she insists on adding “femininity” to the mix. While last fall was decidedly more overtly militant, Cornejo does retain plenty of structure, even in her sexy fitted, quilted red or black silk fencing and riding jackets — a look she softens with long fluid skirts.
The designer showed lots of lush shearling — as collars for long swirling coats or leather jackets; as shrugs and great wild curly haired jackets in camel or black, reversing to distressed leather. She is equally comfortable using “girly” liquid fabrics as she is with tougher fare.
The loveliest addition to the soft side was beautiful, sensuous velvet in a shimmering palette of copper, black and red. Cornejo cut the luxe fabric in ruched bubble tops and a knockout column gown in red.
When the designer tosses one of her curly shearlings over a velvet dress, it underscores just how deft she is at creating a seamless balancing act for fall: shaggy or sleek; weighty and airy; tough versus gentle. And there’s a more serious side of elegance, shown along with Cornejo’s spirited and amusing sense of fun.