“Everything is quite ugly now. We need prettiness.” Maria Cornejo served up that assessment on an early morning visit to her New York studio and showroom, and who can argue with her? Crises local and global keep multiplying, none more pressing than climate change. Cornejo is more attuned to that threat than ever—she became a grandmother for the first time a few months ago. And so for spring 2023 she put her sustainable bona fides down on paper. Her collection notes specify the yarn origin, garment origin, and fabric composition of each piece, and many of her materials are Global Organic Textile Standard– or Global Recycled Standard–certified. On a hangtag or a QR code those details could prove useful for a conscientious shopper.
About that comment—prettiness not a quality Cornejo is often associated with, but this season she’s leaning in. There are cotton-cashmere knits in blush pink and oatmeal mélanges and soft blue cotton chambray shirts and shirt dresses. That grandbaby may have been on her mind when she was working on the collection. The biggest surprise, though, are the florals that multiply on silk charmeuse dresses and stretch toile jacquard pieces, like a coat cut in a vibrant yellow-and-blue pattern. Cornejo clarified, “It’s pretty but not pretty, there’s something jarring about the yellow.”
Cornejo keeps close tabs on her customers and she’s been clocking an uptick in requests for special occasion pieces. She answered the call with a one-shoulder dress and a jacket and bra-top set made from a fil coupé jacquard that evokes damask lace, the first in another off-shade of yellow and the latter in an almost black tone of charcoal gray. She may be experimenting with pretty, but she also noted that she was liking the look of black again. Once an avant-gardist, always an avant-gardist.