February 15 2010
Mark C O’Flaherty
I still have some much-treasured vintage Richmond Cornejo menswear pieces in my wardrobe, produced in the 1980s when Maria Cornejo was living and working in London with her then partner John Richmond. I continued to admire her work after she went solo and moved to New York: her label Zero + Maria Cornejo is now 12 years old and a favourite with the kind of women who favour Margiela and the Japanese avant garde; her most high-profile fan, meanwhile, is Michelle Obama. Cornejo’s style is pared-down, architectural and contemporary but very easy to wear.
When I visited her downtown showroom recently to look through the new spring collections, I was excited to discover the first capsule collection of Zero + Maria Cornejo menswear, scheduled to go on sale at the end of February in her two New York stores, on her website, and at Project 8 in New York.
The new menswear, with prices from $150, shares the same quirky sense of proportion and detail as her women’s line, including shirts that are slightly more voluminous on one side, other similarly asymmetric touches, and the most perfect, simple black blazer ($699) with minimal seams and inset pockets. “I’ve always had the ‘boyfriend cardigan’ or ‘boyfriend pants’ in the womenswear line,” says Cornejo. “I don’t like girlie clothes, so a lot of my womenswear is like menswear anyway – the new line is quite an organic thing.”
The 14 men’s looks for spring are all smart-casual, with a directional sportswear influence, and all with impeccable construction: everything is manufactured under Cornejo’s watchful eye at local factories. Tellingly, many of the women at Maria’s studios placed personal orders of the menswear for themselves, in smaller than usual sizes – favourites are a concave raincoat ($895) and slim-fit trousers in spring-weight black wool ($445).