The face mask is the definitive accessory of our time and Maria Cornejo put it front and center in her spring collection. Photographed on the rooftop of the Navy Yard in Brooklyn, with the lovely, gritty city as a backdrop, her latest was a thoughtful exploration of how we live (and dress) now, with an optimist’s eye trained on a brighter, more sustainable future.
Casual, but still fashion, her crisp white cotton cap-sleeve dress with elastic waist, uneven hem and gathered detail at one shoulder is a reminder of how great American design can be — simple and sporty but still interesting. Ditto her playful fuchsia linen paper bag waist tie shorts, worn with a botanical T-shirt, and fluid jersey dresses with twists and tucks, still as easy as any house dress.
By layering a fuchsia quilted organic cotton jacket over a crisp pink floral tunic and white pants, Cornejo addressed the curling-up-in-a-blanket coziness we’re all craving. She also answered the call for sweats, in her own way, with a mood-lifting fuchsia and cream melange hoodie, breezy jumpsuits, and plenty of her signature elastic waist pants, which she always manages to keep from looking schlumpy.
Meanwhile, a slouchy denim trench and wrapped denim culottes is her new version of a suit, she said, offering that she herself was wearing the look to the studio on Monday. “I spilled something during lunch but who cares, you can put the jacket in the washing machine,” she said.
No newcomer to sustainability, Cornejo has always trumpeted local production and, this season, 84 percent of her collection was made in New York, and a portion made with upcycled materials. All of the denim, zig-zag quilting and jersey is eco-friendly, and the packaging being used to send the collection to retailers is compostable.
Cornejo, like every designer, has been challenged by the pandemic, suffering from the virus herself after returning from Paris in March, and having to close her Los Angeles store on Melrose Place in July.
But she’s a survivor and is feeling hopeful for the first time in a long time. “It feels like there is a lot of energy in New York…the big stores have disappeared, but artists are reclaiming the space, and there’s a bit of renewal going on. Hopefully we’ll keep going.”
Yes, let’s hope.