Corsets are so hot right now. And, at such a precarious time for women’s rights, maybe the return of an item that quite literally bound the female form throughout history means something more than just good aesthetics. It certainly does for designer Chelsea Goldman, who has made them something of a signature in her artsy womenswear line, CF. Goldman. “Corsets change your posture; they make you feel empowered, and since they are not the easiest to wear, they are also a mark of independence,” she says.
Goldman came up through the ranks of Céline, Proenza Schouler, and Narciso Rodriguez, and now that she’s at the helm in her native NYC, she is intent on bringing old-world craftsmanship back to contemporary fashion. “How do we make something cool and modern, but still have that technique?” For her Spring 2018 collection, Goldman worked corsetry into delicate gingham day dresses, and overtop Liberty shirting with wide, logo-print ribbons. There’s scarcely a basic item in the mix, which is surely what keeps artists and downtown doyennes flocking.
It’s fair to say that Nicole Saldana was always destined to make things. Growing up in a house of constant innovation—her father was an industrial designer who made everything from lamps to microwaves—the shoe designer found her passion early. “We had this really amazing woodworking studio in our garage,” she says, which is where she made her first shoe as a kid: a plastic cup heel fastened with clear tape.
After being scooped up post-Parsons by Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, the duo behind Opening Ceremony and Kenzo, Saldana designed women’s and men’s footwear in-house before launching her own eponymous line last year. Now in its third season, her line of shoes bridges what are often fashion’s most disparate elements: comfort and high design. “I do think there’s something to be said about women designing shoes for women,” she says. “I’m designing for what women really need,” which she guarantees by involving a wide range of friends and muses in the design process. “I design things that I know will be comfortable, but with an attention to detail and colour so that they still have that shock value,” she says. Case in point: this season’s low-heeled slides, which blend an architectural heel and a pastel PVC pop. Consider us sold.
In the age of instant gratification, it’s rare to see a young creative take things slow. But such is the case for Kathryn Bowen, the Toronto designer who favours an old-world approach to design and life itself. “I took a trip to Scotland recently and I was so happy there,” she says. “It made me realize that I want to focus on things that make me feel like the world is more beautiful outside the digital world we’re living in.” She’s referring to her womenswear line, which is in its first season this spring. The collection blends Bowen’s knack for tailoring (she studied at the London College of Fashion) with modern, genderless utility, which is in and of itself something of an oxymoron. “I worked with a trans model for my spring lookbook, and it was a learning curve for me,” she says. “I want to make tailored clothing that looks good on every body, rather than revert to baggy styles.” We daresay she’s off to a running start—imagine: a cotton flap blouse layered underneath a cross-body pocket bag, a loose corset top fastened with wide buckles, and a khaki trench inspired by obsolete aviation uniforms freshening up your closet come spring.