Emerging brands are having a moment this week, and it’s about time Jonathan Cohen had his. He held his first runway show on the heels of his placement in this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition, with plenty of women in the audience looking polished yet at ease in his designs.

The competition process has already been a great learning experience, especially considering that being a designer can be quite insular. “You have these great conversations with everyone,” Cohen said ahead of the show. “It pushes you to be better, do better and think more.”

His spring collection was also about communicating a narrative, paralleling the way musicians tell stories through songwriting. He focused on four in particular — Lauryn Hill, Kate Bush, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Cure — choosing them for their takes on love. He physically translated the notes of their sheet music into a rosebud “love notes” print, and figuratively romanticized their ideas of love into confidently young and feminine designs.

Cohen has built his brand on the foundation of elegant subversion and his best-selling slash skirt. His new iteration of the skirt was more substantial and paired with a sleek grey blazer for a quirky play on proportion. He offered various takes on florals, from the subversive (an alluring open dress with the appearance of knotted scarves and Swarovski crystal embellishments) to the hand-done (illustrations of falling petals and the facade of Cohen’s studio on a button-down were hand-embroidered by artisans in Mexico). In all, Cohen’s evolution has appeared organic, offering pieces that are effortless yet polished, making his brand one with rare broad appeal.

load comments