“I’m a little bit nervous about if the other shoe is going to drop because everything is going well,” said Gabriela Hearst during a preview of her fall 2023 men’s collection.
The designer was still high from her visit to Washington, D.C., where the inaugural ensemble for First Lady Jill Biden was added to the Smithsonian’s First Ladies Collection.
“We are the first since the inception of the gallery that pre-dates the Smithsonian to have two mannequins…so you can see the dress embroidery and the coat,” Hearst said. “And nothing prepares you for the shock when you see Mrs. Lincoln’s outfit and all these first ladies, it’s just too emotional.”
The designer is also gearing up to open her next store, in L.A., in September, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. “I’m really excited about our retail experience,” said Hearst, who has boutiques in New York, London and at Le Bristol in Paris.
But for now, it’s full steam ahead on her fall collections, which are turning away from haute bohemian toward a more minimalist moment. She was inspired by Eileen Gray, the Irish artist, architect and furniture designer who was an all-too-forgotten pioneer of the Modernist movement starting in the ’20s. She had her own store in Paris named after an imaginary male owner called Jean Desert, which catered to Elsa Schiaparelli, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and other tastemakers.
“She learned how to fly planes. She taught herself how to do lacquer, she taught herself how to do weaving, she had this furniture store, she had an arch rivalry with Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe…she was with all these guys who became more famous than her, she disappears for 30 years, and then she’s rediscovered, which happens a lot with the women that I study, like, somebody else takes the ideas. But somehow we always try to make the the story right again,” said Hearst of her quest to shine a light on forgotten female figures. “So this was very inspired by her quality, detail and the austerity of her design.”
The sentiment translated to fluid tailoring, monochromatic dressing, classic recycled cashmere knits and outerwear, all in a palette of red, mustard yellow, cream and charcoal — colors found in Gray’s weavings.
A cream double-breasted overcoat, crewneck and pants felt like a palate cleanser, while a sunny yellow pantsuit with matching crewneck and slight bootcut trousers was a shot of dopamine.
Hearst’s handmade-in-Uruguay fluffy cashmere turtlenecks, hoodies and basketweave crewnecks added comfort and texture, as did a tidy brown tweed suit with matching puffer vest, inspired by a photo of Gray wearing tweed at age 93 in her apartment on Rue Bonaparte.
Utility-inspired outerwear, like a camel-hued hooded parka, a bordeaux suede bomber, a black leather shirt jacket and car coat, were elevated with luxe cashmere linings.
The collection was clean, concise and covetable, and Hearst is onto something with her focus on simplicity, which is elevating brands like The Row, Lemaire and Totême, as fashion starts to turn away from maximalism.
“You will see it in the women’s collection, too, much more focus on the tailoring, on the monochromatic colors on the richness. Everything has become so crazy visually, too stimulating in a way, I feel like we’re all working for Mark Zuckerberg for Instagram, right? Like we have to post things that are shocking,” said Hearst. “I feel this need for calmness is the gravitational pull of Eileen Gray, really centering yourself and being in the moment. More inside stimuli than outside stimuli. And when you touch it and you feel it, it has a very soothing effect.”