Gabriela Hearst launched her brand three years ago on the principles of uncompromising quality and durable, elegant design. Independent but well-funded (she married into the Hearst publishing empire), she has the luxury of doing luxury at a level that is rare to find anywhere in fashion these days and especially in New York. Hearst has only intensified her commitment to the finest-made things to accompany the life well-lived, and she served up examples of both, quite literally, at her fall show.
One of the greatest indulgences on the fashion week circuit is finding time for proper food, water. Hearst built sustenance into her show format, taking over Café Altro Paradiso to serve a quick three-course lunch to her guests in a setting that allowed for intimate, though not unobstructed, viewing of the clothes. Nothing gives a sense of this collection like touching the cashmere, wools and silks firsthand, but the private restaurant experience enhanced Hearst’s brand message for those who might not know it.
During a preview, Hearst explained that her seasonal inspiration was “women that have to dress like men to go to work,” she said. Specifically, women coal miners during the Victorian era. She was interested in how social movements, rather than designers, impact the way people dress. Yet the source information played into a refined men’s wear influence that was not for those getting their hands dirty. There was a tidy camel double-face cashmere peacoat pieced with navy and red stripes around the midsection over a camel cashmere wrap skirt. A divine double-faced cashmere houndstooth robe coat reversed to Prince of Wales plaid. It was layered under an even more divine knit houndstooth coat that was as soft and thick as a cloud. Words and photos don’t do it justice.
The finery went on to include jewel-toned heavy silk outerwear trimmed in silk fringe, a newspaper print dress with red rose embroidery inspired by Hearst’s mother-in-law Austine Hearst, who was a syndicated newspaper columnist, and shantung and velvet eveningwear that was feminine, at times delicate, but never dainty.
As for accessories, Hearst introduced five new styles to her growing handbag line that she operates on a direct-to-consumer, wait-list-inducing basis. She also designed riding boots with colorful spur details and combat boots. Her women, no matter how affluent, mean business.