Ulla Johnson Compliments Her SS ’21 Collection With an Ode to NYC

by Freya Drohan

Ulla Johnson may have taken inspiration from Japan, but her Spring Summer ’21 collection was a clear love letter to New York City and the creatives who inhabit it.

The Brooklyn-based designer showcased her latest offering at Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island—a location symbolizing hope—with the urban skyline of the city, including the United Nations headquarters, standing powerfully in plain sight. Johnson enlisted the artists of Oliphant Studios in Bushwick to hand-paint the pastel runway and emerging Staten Island-native Shamiqua for a live performance: the singer’s refrain, “the show must go on”, certainly added to the entirely emotive presentation.

As for the fashion,  displayed in slow and sensual glory in a short film released by the brand on Monday morning, it was all about fluidity and movement. The nod to Japan was evident in the ikebana-inspired prints, origami-thin pleating, Obi belts, and structured silhouettes that were evocative of ceremonial dressing.

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But even with the noticeable influence of The Land of the Rising Sun, the collection was textbook Johnson to its core. Think: molded and puff sleeve shoulders, cloqué and crochet detailing, tiered and ruffled skirts, utilitarian faded denim jumpsuits, and bursts of coral and violet mixed in with ethereal white and earthy tones.

The beauty of Johnson’s work lies in its consistency without ever feeling stale. Accessories, which seem to improve every season as the homegrown brand matures and solidifies its rhythm, included strappy sandals, leather slides, jewelry made in Kenya, and handbags in raffia, macramé, and leather. Delicate crowns of petals, handmade in Paris in collaboration with Nathalie Seiller Dejean, also tempted us to find our inner flower child.

See the collection below:

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