The recently reopened Pool at the Seagram Building is this season’s venue of choice for designers seeking a space in which their quietly meticulous luxury collections can bask in the simpatico glow of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson’s iconic modernist, God-is-in-the-details architecture. It’s also a hot restaurant. Gabriela Hearst showed her spring collection there the day after Derek Lam used it for his show.
The Pool Room itself could’ve passed for the inspiration for Hearst’s collection: Its clean lines and subtle mid-century palette coordinated perfectly with the room’s icy interiors. But, alas, she was thinking of famous men of style and how they expressed themselves within the fairly narrow parameters of classic men’s wear. Her mood board was tacked with photos of Winston Churchill, Orson Welles, Fred Astaire, Keith Richards and George Best, their style translated into clothes that painted a picture of determined women who want luxury without frivolity. In Hearst’s hands, Richard’s leopard blazer was transformed into a zebra-printed cotton canvas wrap skirt. Churchill’s waistcoat chain became a detail inset into a polka-dot silk twill dress gathered in gentle crinkles. And the sharp tailoring that has been the anchor of many impeccably dressed men’s wardrobes was feminized but still strongly evident in a rose herringbone silk suit and a navy linen blazer with soft kimono wrap details.
Even on as intimate a runway as the Pool Room allowed, it’s impossible to pick up on the quality of materials that put the power in Hearst’s work. She has strong ideas on slow fashion and serving the customer who craves it. “The luxury customer who appreciates our type of product, which is not your Instagram kind of product, is a women who — and we did research on who’s the woman who’s buying our product — is working. She’s a lawyer, she’s in a firm, she’s an executive, she’s a working woman,” Hearst said during a preview. “She appreciates good quality and craftsmanship and clothes that just doesn’t disintegrate.” Her fabrics and silhouettes are built to last a lifetime. A lovely light blue shirtdress with pleated pockets was done in a light but rich aloe linen. A blazer made of pieced-together striped merino was lined in chiffon. The hardware detail on the collar of a single-sleeved ivory silk dress was resin made to look like marble and malachite. Then there were the bags, a very interesting, promising category for Hearst, who shrewdly has kept distribution to herself while building up demand for her novelty styles. She introduced several new silhouettes for spring, but the two inspired by toolboxes with accordion tops and secret compartments on the base, look like they’ll trigger a waitlist.