Maria Cornejo already has Michelle Obama's blessing, of course. And at today's show, there was another ringing endorsement: artist Cindy Sherman sitting unassumingly front-row. The support is testament to the fact that Cornejo, a self-described reformed fashion victim, lays out her task simply: making clothes that are "interesting but make you look good." In other words, real fashion for intelligent women.
For Spring, Cornejo divided the collection into four elements (urban white noise, wood, grass, water) to explore the tension between architecture and nature. It's a fitting push-pull topic for someone who approaches design seriously. The question: to work with the body or against it? Cornejo's contemplation began in the stark lines of an off-white linen dress but soon softened into cowling jumpsuits and body-shaping leather. Ultimately, the designer was betting big on nature. "It's the stronger force," she explained backstage. It made for a collection that not only imparted increasingly refined fluidity to her signatures but seemed more about the body than ever, from a fab zippered knit jacket with exposed shoulders to wedge-heeled sandals cut out to expose half the foot. Perhaps due to the debut of swimwear, there was also a new sexiness and more skin, like a bandeau top paired with a leather skirt. So, too, a matte jersey dress with a double belt had a touch of va-va-voom, setting off extra flashes from the photo pit. Well, even the brainiest of gals wants to plain knock 'em dead sometimes. This collection is evidence that Cornejo's evolution is moving ahead at a nice clip.