Since emerging designer Jackson Wiederhoeft launched his fantastical namesake label in 2019, storytelling has been at the forefront of his designs. For his live runway show debut, the designer (a current CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist) presented a theatrical fairy-tale performance — “a fashion show, in five acts.”
“I wanted to create this story where you meet the two girls in the beginning and they’re playing on their playground. Physically, they’re on the playground but in their mind, they’re in the castle. Cherishing that childlike idea that anything is possible to make believe in an instant: each look in the show is an extrapolation of their own memories, their imagination is so strong that they see it,” Wiederhoft said of his show, which featured twisted playground structures within his square runway and that might’ve been a wink to the runway-cum-performance style of Thom Browne, where Wiederhoft cut his teeth.
“Look one is the herald, two is the castle king, three is the princess — every look had its character; toward the end, there’s the dungeon, the executioner, the witch — you start to see more aggressive things,” he said of the collection’s 26 individualized, glamorous looks, said to be rooted in historical styles, “not so much for the story of it, but the shapes and qualities.” For instance, his punked-up princess in Barbie pink signature wasp corset and recycled satin full skirt or his wizard’s tromp l’oeil black corset column dress with grommet, bow and tulle accouterments. His parade of fantasy prominently displayed his intricate craft, which continued to home in on over-the-top embellishments and embroideries crafted in India.
As with every fairy tale, there was “the temptation of a bad idea,” which Wiederhoft represented through delightful subversive ideas, like a fully hand-embroidered codpiece dress or thong-revealing gunmetal-plated pewter chainmail skirt, and show-closing subdued black dresses.
Last December, the designer debuted his collection of playful ready-to-wear but quickly pivoted back to his specialty pieces for resort. For spring, he continued this ethos, explaining that there “definitely are aspects of ready-to-wear within the collection — a lot of it is going to be special occasion, custom-order or trunk show-based. But there are a lot of things that on their face are quite extreme. For instance, the princess dress with the giant headpiece: it’s extreme styling, but in reality, the dress is quite wearable. That’s something that was important for me as well — not every look needed to be fully corseted. Yes, plenty of corsets, but finding ways to style things that really do parse down to quite digestible pieces with special flare.”