May 19, 2022

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Forget Mediocre Fashion

Fashion Designer Jonathan Cohen Swoops Into Houston, Bringing the Energy and a Sense of Escape

It seemed like outdated situations at Elizabeth Anthony’s Pals & Trends Luncheon and Design and style Presentation. Following a two-calendar year pandemic hiatus, the 13th annual accumulating was on once again and the Uptown Park boutique was loaded with energetic Houston shoppers curious about progressive designer Jonathan Cohen.

The Mexico Town-born, San Diego-lifted designer — who is now living in New York — is acquiring a large amount of excitement for his inventive hand developed prints and dedication to sustainability. Cohen debuted his fall collection in Houston even in advance of it has been shown to these types of fashion heavyweights as Vogue, alongside with his spring selection, accessorized with couture jewellery from Boston-primarily based designer Katherine Jetter, a longtime favorite of the store’s faithful clientele.

The electrical power was so high-octane (i.e. noisy) as company mingled and excitedly perused the collections that Cohen and I escaped to a dressing area on the store’s next floor so we could listen to one a further about the din throughout a swift job interview. Following the very long pandemic, the 36-calendar year-old designer is ecstatic to be on the highway all over again to meet with shoppers and communicate about his function.

“For me, style has normally been a way to escape. Any battle I have experienced in my lifetime, I’ve designed my way out of it,” he states.

When the pandemic had lots of down and heartbreaking times, it permitted Cohen and firm CEO Sarah Leff to push the reset button on their organization. (The duo to start with fulfilled 16 many years back as classmates at the Parsons University of Design and style and formally introduced the firm in 2011.)  They put manufacturing on keep and appeared at methods to keep the brand name heading on the net.

Cohen developed masks, pins, brooches, necklaces, headbands and children’s clothing — all applying recycled textiles. He also opened a electronic flower store, where a Cohen-made sketch of a floral bouquet could be ordered online and sent to close friends and loved kinds to preserve in touch.

“It was a way to engage with men and women and generate a sense of local community when we were being all missing it,” he states. “With the pandemic we definitely tried using to make the most effective of the situation as much as we could.”

Cohen has continued the on the internet flower shop, with the most current providing titled “Ukranian Roses.” The drawing of a bouquet of yellow roses expenditures $20, with a part of proceeds donated to Voices of Small children.

Jonathan Cohen and the Italy Link

The moment Cohen and Leff ramped up manufacturing all over again very last year, they moved production to Italy, closer to wherever they source their materials. They also made a decision to present new collections on a timetable much more favorable to customers than during New York Style Week. For his spring assortment, in suppliers now, Cohen looked to the strategy of escapism due to the fact he built a great deal of his prints although in quarantine.

Motivated by the 1988 surrealist movie What Dreams May perhaps Arrive, which he watched through the pandemic, Cohen established textiles for the spring assortment that includes smudged floral prints, woven jacquards of bumblebees set in opposition to a honeycomb pattern and air balloon florals. It’s produced to “look like these bouquets are essentially air balloons flying into the sky (to express) this strategy of transporting to an additional location and employing manner to provide joy and escape working day-to-working day everyday living,” Cohen explains.

For the drop assortment, he collaborated with a friend to photograph dahlias submerged in water. They later on improvised with hand sanitizer as a substitute of drinking water to get the preferred impact. They also took an up-near perspective of the tail of Cohen’s pet fish Selina, creating summary prints that emphasize the notion of reflection and self-reflection in a publish-pandemic planet.

Jonathan Cohen denim pantsuit with hand painted bouquets. (Photo by Jennifer Greene)

In a commitment to sustainability, Cohen repurposes leftover material remnants in a wide range of strategies. Many signature smocked pieces in the new collections are built from remnant strips and a hanging mini-gown attributes hundreds of upcycled crystals lined in recycled material that dangle like colorful paillettes.

“I’m frequently pushing the concept of cloth remnants just like I press any collection, to do something new with it, to do one thing that people have not seen, a new way of on the lookout at it,” Cohen says. “We do all this get the job done so our consumer does not have to. At the conclusion of the day, she just needs a fantastic costume.”

Jonathan Cohen experienced his instant in the spotlight very last yr when very first woman Jill Biden wore a hanging purple coat with velvet belt from his selection when she and then president-elect Joe Biden flew to Washington, D.C., to kick off inauguration festivities. The coat was designed from material remnants in preserving with Cohen’s dedication to sustainability.

“And she’s continued to don it. That is a genuinely important concept to ship,” Cohen says. “From a sustainability standpoint, you want items that stand the examination of time and that can be worn far more than after, that aren’t pattern-centered and that genuinely adapt to your existence.

“She’s a ideal illustration of that.”