maryam nassir zadeh and dev hynes hit the guggenheim for a serene fall/winter 17
The designer took her downtown minimalism on a field trip to the Upper East Side.
Maryam Nassir Zadeh has been in the game a minute. Before launching her eponymous store on the Lower East Side in 2008, the Iranian-born vintage whisperer helmed a brand of one-of-a-kind recycled t-shirts in her 20s, following her graduation from RISD's textile program. The aforementioned shop has developed a die-hard following for its eclectic mix of established and emerging names, from Awaveawake to J.W.Anderson. Six years ago, Zadeh joined her own roster, getting back into the ring with an in-house line of clothing and shoes. The fall/winter 17 collection she showed this afternoon on the Upper East Side was rooted in her extensive experience and distinctive vision. Yet, it was also about making first steps, and new starts.
Zadeh set up shop at the Peter B. Lewis Theater, located on the basement level of the Guggenheim Museum on a very windy 89th Street. (A fitting venue for her cast of artists: Ally Marzella, India Menuez, Susan Cianciolo, and Maia Ruth Lee all took their turns on the runway). No designer has ever showed in the space before, though Zadeh has planned to for some time. "Last season was my first season [presenting at New York Fashion Week]. When I was looking at venues, I saw this and it was immediately my first choice. But I thought it was kind of ambitious for my first show," she explained backstage. "I didn't even plan to do a runway, but once I entered the space, it felt so good. The concept was a bit spiritual, about an ending and a beginning. And there's something about the circular elements in this space that speak to building, rebuilding, abstracting," she added.
Much like the storied institution's iconic rotunda above, the Lewis Theater feels elegant in an unfussy way, thanks largely to its open-yet-intimate architecture. Its cream seats, light beige curtain, and simple gold railings provided a perfect backdrop for Zadeh's colorful offering. "I wanted, conceptually, to kind of make a rainbow," she explained of the procession, which bloomed from a palette more or less matching the theater's into pops of pink, pumpkin orange, and lemony yellow. "At first, it's something soft, very feminine. The middle is more abstract, expressive, bold color. And the last is about having a harder edge, being a bit more masculine — darker," said Zadeh.
Though she approached the collection from a familiar starting point (fabrics and textiles), Zadeh tried some new things today, too. "I always love classic shapes and materials. But this season, I was really exciting about finding fabrics that were a bit more psychedelic and wild so I could saturate the color," she explained. Velvet was new, and used expertly — forming deep purple trousers and clean-cut long-sleeve tops. Zadeh also revealed her first-ever bags and belts. Like the clothing, these finishes arrived in a fresh mix of materials. "I like really simple, pure, and natural fabrics like cottons and silks; but I always love the synthetic, metallic materials as well. So it was about finding unexpected ways to combine things. There's burlap, but also lucite on shoes, and embellishment, which was the first time we've ever done it."
The season's show notes hinted at this variety and willingness to experiment. Zadeh invoked numerology to illustrate cycles of freshness, growth, change. She shared these thoughts with Dev Hynes, who created an original score for the afternoon. "Dev has always been very dear to me," Zadeh explained of the composer, whose practice is similarly rooted in the energy of downtown. "I told him some of the concepts of what's happening in my life, and he made an original score. I feel so honored, he did such a brilliant job." They both did.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Mitchell Sams