French-Ukrainian artist Sonia Delaunay.
Rainproof puffer gilets are ready to pop over
just about anything. And the bias-cut velvet
slip dresses work equally well worn over one of
Hearst’s knits or against bare skin for evening.
“I like to layer the figure,” says Hearst, “with
everything close to the body being super-soft
and the exterior being protective.” There’s a
faint echo of the 1970s in her collections, and
of her mother’s wardrobe from that era.
Hearst’s design language is sensual, cultured
and highly refined. “My vision from the start
was to create beautifully constructed, timeless
clothes for an active woman. She does not have
time to change for the evening, she’s on the go,
and I want to provide solutions for her,” says
Hearst, herself on the go as mother to a 1-year-
old and 6-year-old twins and stepmother to two
teenagers. With natural makeup, fine blonde
hair drawn into a ponytail, a lithe, strong figure
and striking accessories such as an antique
emerald ring, she lives the aesthetic of her brand.
The designer is in London to train the sales
staff at Selfridges, a new stockist. “I want the
sales team to understand how much thought
and care has gone into the garments. From
the materials to the designs, I want to offer
transparency in how everything is made. The
classic cashmeres are made by a not-for-profit
collective established in 1968, Manos del
Uruguay. Some customers will be interested in
the fact that in their purchase they are helping
the livelihoods of other women,” Hearst says.
She is passionate about issues of sustainability
and the environment. “Being sustainable
means being efficient all around. It is
the honest route.”
Hearst proudly leafs through her
resort collection lookbook, which fea-
tures a model photographed against
a brutalist concrete backdrop high-
lighted with primary-coloured pipes.
The location, a low-income school in
Brooklyn, was discovered by Hearst’s
art director, Peter Miles, part of a slim
team of nine people in her New York
studio. “The money we would have
spent on a photography studio went to
the school, and I also gave the pupils
dresses from my other line, Candela.
I think we started with a good vibe.”
Hearst, who will soon turn 40, is
focused on those good vibes and does
not subscribe to pretence and ostenta-
tion. That integrity is tangible in the
brand, which in a just a few seasons
has garnered a loyal fan club. “This
‘overnight success’ has been 14 years
in the making. I’ve been working as a
designer since my early 20s,” she says,
referring to Candela, her bohemian-
leaning contemporary line. “When
I launched the Gabriela Hearst line,
I knew how to listen to myself more.
When something has your name on it, you want
everything to be impeccable.”
The name Hearst—her husband, Austin, is
a grandson of William Randolph Hearst and an
executive at Hearst Corporation—comes with
a halo that can inspire cynicism as well as awe.
“I talked with my husband extensively before
launching my line. At the beginning, using
my maiden name, Perezutti, was an option,
but a good friend said, ‘I love you but cannot
remember your last name—it will never work,’
so we decided to go with my married name,”
she says. “I knew the product would promote
itself.” And so it has, with Barneys immediately
snapping up her first collection to sell alongside
brands like Chloé and Céline.
One year in, Hearst is building on that early
success and demonstrating a strong talent for
accessories. Her pod-like leather bag, the Nina,
first produced in a run of 2 5, caused a stir when
seen in the hands of fashionable fans like blog-ger Miroslava Duma and actress Brie Larson.
Available only to those who contact the brand
directly, the style has a wait list. The Autumn/
Winter collection also is sure to be popular for
its extensive line of shoes: handsome calfskin
riding boots, short ankle boots with a chunky
inlaid wood heel, quirky platform deck shoes.
Everything in Hearst’s world just seems to flow.
“I have learnt to trust my intuition,” she says.
“As women, we all have it—it is our upper hand.”
Harriet Quick is a fashion editor and writer for Vogue,
Wallpaper*, Modern Weekly and The Wall Street
Journal. She is the author of Cat walking: A History
of the Fashion Model and Vogue: The Shoe .
OUR PICKS THIS SEASON
From Autumn/ Winter 2016 (l-r): Silk georgette Helen blouse with lace detail, Sophie
virgin wool trouser, Rachel bootie | Shearling Sonia coat, David platform boots |
Bridget velvet slip dress, Thomas cashmere top, Jane crocodile flats | Riley herringbone
twill vest, May wool turtleneck, Freddie wool midi skirt, David platform boots
YARNS OF URUGUAY
Some of the most
coveted yarns begin
as wool from rural
Uruguayan areas like
and hand-dyed, their
textures and colours