For Jonathan Cohen, this fall begins with Karen O. Well, with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Well, with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs playing live in New York a few years ago, when Cohen was in the audience, as visually dazzled as he was sonically. He took photos of the light show on his iPhone, and it's these colorful, pulsating, totally hypnotic lights that have been referenced throughout this collection. And it turns out he went with his footage from the show Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It could have been Madonna (I saw her in Brooklyn, I loved her) or The Cure or Beyoncé. (He also saw – a major formative life experience – the original four-girl lineup of Destiny's Child.) “My favorite part of the concert is the beginning, when the lights go down,” Cohen said during a pre -premiered the other day. “That moment when you come out of the pitch black. That's why we have a lot of black this season.
There was indeed a ton of black in this collection, but it existed in duality with the inspiration of the play of light. You might think of it as a print on one of those soft, curvy dresses that Cohen does so well, that combination of rounding the silhouette while letting the fabric fall softly. Or like full-fabric embroidery on a narrow skirt, the fragments of fabric falling like confetti everywhere. (It's become one of her trademarks, and it comes with an even better story: it's a thoughtful, thrifty way to use up fabric scraps, a sustainable approach to waste that doesn't want to be rendered to good effect.) Or, perhaps more subtly, like the luminous gold thread on a rather chic black hourglass jacket, the thread catching the light in the same way that a car's headlights mark the path of traffic at night. Or, right before the lights come on and a band starts up.
This jacket, by the way, could also have had a little of the spirit of Mrs. O, in other respects. Cohen paired it with an organic indigo denim skirt, loose, short and tiered in such a way that the flattened knotted bows, which are an integral part of its construction. This slightly reduced the formality of the jacket, giving it a different spirit, an easier, even less dressy, attitude. This knotting pattern also appeared elsewhere: on a black satin coat, and even more black satin in the form of a long, sleeveless evening dress.
The bows were like other elements of the collection: the light padding used to create volume at the back of the short puffed sleeves of a statement cotton dress; the three months it takes to make 15 meters of colorful tweed that looks static on a TV screen and was deployed here for a casual suit, all done by hand. As for Cohen's downfall, it's another feeling he sought to connect with: getting back to what it means to him, aesthetically and emotionally, to do his job. “Where we are right now…you keep thinking: What does it mean to be a designer?” he said. “I always thought my goal was to bring a little joy to the world. And I feel like it's more important than ever.