Abstract swirls she’s doodled since childhood to relax, crocheted knitwear made in Italy by female artisans who assemble their individual pieces into sustainable upcycled denim discovered through talking together at the British Fashion Awards… Fashion’s Earth Mama Gabriela Hearst designs in it so intimate, feminine, how can you not be charmed?
This Resort 2023 collection began with a dream of a chief’s wife on horseback atop mountains of fire, which she transformed into a powerful range of handcrafted knitwear, armor-like corsetry and embossed leather coats and accessories that embodied those signature swirls as a new alt-logo of sorts.
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“I want my wives to feel like bosses,” she said.
Hearst herself has been riding for so long that she can’t remember when she first learned it. And she used her Uruguayan equestrian heritage for the leatherworking that ran through the collection. There were slim coats and jackets in swirl-embossed leather with quilted lapels and swirl-engraved concho buttons. Boots, tote bags and sandals for female gauchos too. And a stunning black cady silk dress with blouson sleeves and a leather plunging V bodice was tailored for Aspen should her brand make a return there this holiday season.
The swirls also found their way into exceptional crocheted lace dresses. Handmade knitwear is something of an obsession for Hearst, from the seasonal collaborations she makes with the collective Manos del Uruguay to the melange yarn sweater and skirt sets she routinely makes.
This season she experimented with mixed pointelle color blocking on a fiery bodice that was needle felted with a black woven pleated skirt for a gown that was a technical feat.
She also brought traditional cable knits on an embrace of a white poncho, inspired by her husband’s love of the sea — no polluting yachts, she clarified, just sailboats.
The men’s range was super minimalist with clean cuts and a monochromatic palette. Hearst said that while she’s willing to take more risks with her women’s fashion, she’s “very, very respectful” of her male customers and knows she needs to take baby steps before making dramatic changes. So she didn’t deviate from the message she’s created to date, as evidenced by the peacoats, double-faced trench coats and cable-knit sweaters.
She offered a personal touch with the sailor utility coat which fastened at the neck with a custom made half stirrup/half sailor shackle clasp. It was inspired by her own marriage. “He’s a sea person, I’m a land person,” she said.
Another family reference was a sweater with a portrait of a warrior on the front, actually her mother Sonia.
Hearst may be a dreamer, but she’s always been down to earth when it comes to dressing women, which is why denim is often part of her vision. This season has been made in collaboration with East London Vintage Denim or ELV who launched in 2018 creating bespoke and ready to wear two tone or coordinating upcycled denim pieces.
Founder Anne Foster, who met Hearst at the British Fashion Awards, has said it takes the same amount of water as one person drinks in 13 years to make a single pair of new jeans. ELV uses just seven liters per pair to wash post-consumer denim waste.
For Hearst, she crafted upcycled bell-bottoms and denim shirts patched with curved lines reminiscent of the signature swirls.
Diagonally cut dresses in heavy silk, some with off-the-shoulder ties, silk-cashmere suits and blouses, bodysuits and comfy reflexology sandals rounded out the relaxed, everyday wardrobe options for women on the go.
Hearst, who splits her time between Chloe and her own label, knows a little about this and shares that she recently cut her own hair, which she hadn’t done in years because she didn’t have time to go to the salon walk.
“I have many talents,” she laughs. “I can read tarot cards, I take them to parties, only now I don’t calculate anything because I don’t need to.”
When this fashion thing doesn’t work, she has options. – Jean Palmieri contributed to this report.
Start gallery: Gabriela Hearst Resort 2023