Season after season, French Connection delivers polished yet wearable collections, and the brand’s designs are no exception. Maria Chen, creative director of FC, gives us the scoop on the Fall 2020 line, and how her team pulled everything together.
Did the dawn of a new decade at all influence the team’s design process?
Yes, as designers we’re always thinking about the future. We embark on the design process at least a year in advance of a new collection launching. We’re constantly thinking about the future of consumerism, how the world is rapidly changing while still reminiscing and drawing learnings from the past.
Tell us about the new collection! What was on your moodboard this season?
For womenswear, it was images of Talitha Getty and young Lisa Marie Presley. For menswear, it was modern art, a mix-and-match of mountain sport and street, and quasi poet Americana.
What are your favorite pieces from the collection?
For womenswear, I’m loving all the leather and embossed vegan alternatives. Also, the ’80s influence in the form of the color mix onto a classic wintry item like a Fair Isle sweater.
Any highlights among your hommes designs?
For men, I love the combination of artsy, modern prints styled with a suit. I’ll always have an appreciation for streetwear-inspired styles that can be mixed into the modern man’s everyday wardrobe—like the mixed-check print puffer and the ripstop cargo trousers as seen on the runway. I love the mix-and-match styling seen consistently throughout the collection; it’s done in a modern, elevated way.
How did you discover the Caldwell Factory, and why did it seem like the perfect location for your show?
The Caldwell Factory has evolved as part of the thread of New York City’s history; the building was completed in 1914. I love the history of the space, and the fact that in the 1990s one of my favorite and renowned photographers Annie Leibovitz converted the building into the West 26th Street Studio. In 2005, it was purchased from Leibovitz, lovingly restored and renovated into the former home of the famed Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet Company. A fan of anything contemporary, I felt like this was the perfect home for French Connection’s latest show.
Talk us through the show’s art direction. What sort of vibe did you want the space to evoke?
The show evokes a modern sexiness while celebrating and embracing cultural diversity in an effortless way. Focused and determined; optimistic and expressive.
What distinguishes NYFW from other Fashion Weeks globally?
New York Fashion Week — along with Paris and Milan — are amongst the biggest in the world. New York has always been known for big names in wearable ready-to-wear, but it’s evolved from that, and is now the biggest event on the west side of the Atlantic Ocean. Incrementally, there are more evolving brands to watch in New York. I think it’s deeply rooted in the natural optimism and can-do nature of the American spirit, which encourages and supports innovation. I also love how New York is so multicultural. The city embraces diversity with people traveling from all over the world to live and work. It’s the home of so many influential fashion photographers.
What trends should we be on the lookout for this season?
Our Autumn/Winter 2020 collection is a play with the balance of minimalism and maximalism. On the minimalist side, sophisticated tailoring and pared-back silhouettes looking forward with a strong new confidence. The maximalist side features clashing prints and an unexpected mix of bold color. Other major trends in womenswear include supple leather, architectural silhouettes, and 1970s-era, French inspired bourgeois chic.
And for the guys, what sorts of ideas are big?
For menswear, look out for mix-and-match styling, Alpine-mountaineering influence with technical cuts, modern-art-inspired prints, and streetwear puffers and hoodies, combined with inspiration drawn from the style of spoken-word rap and lyrical artists.
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