Four floors above the street, in the office space of New York’s Havas Agency, Reese Cooper presented his fall collection of men’s and women’s wear. The designer has taken a liking to juxtapositions — his last men’s collection was shot runway-style along a highway and the one before that in an office space his team created in a parking lot. So for spring, the young designer (this collection marked Cooper’s second for women’s) created a high school common area set in a city office building. 

Cooper’s collection was designed around said “Water’s Edge High School,” a fictional place the designer had dreamed up and streamlined into a single-narrative collection. While his first women’s collection focused mostly on pieces the designer felt at ease with — jeans, Ts, hoodies — his second extended into plenty of new silhouettes, fabrics and prints. “Let’s try getting weird with it,” he said. “I wanted to be outside of my comfort zone.”

Cooper designed 30 or so patches, the types common on uniforms and jerseys, which he not only fastened to garments — a monochromatic red varsity jacket was covered in them — but also rendered them into a collaged pictorial print, which adorned a silk skirt and heavier trucker jacket. The designer tied his designs together by adding in details that required a second glance. The cream woven pocket of a shirt was actually the same material Cooper used for an oversize bag and a few knitwear tops. These new “fishnet” knits were made out of an innovative cotton and recycled paper yarn and were layered with classic workwear elements in fresh ways — for instance, a cream men’s sweater with architectural print or a standout Army green women’s vest with knit bodice and cargo pockets. While the CVFF nominee’s men’s wear provided great offerings, his women’s wear took a step in a more sartorial direction thanks to innovations that resulted in the kind of straight-up ready-to-wear that consumers crave for their daily wardrobes.

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