Jackson Wiederhoeft, Rihanna and Lady Gaga Favorite, Launches Pre-Fall – WWD

Up-and-coming New York designer Jackson Wiederhoeft describes himself and his clients as “grown up theater nerds.” Her first full-fledged collection for pre-fall is a literal play on that theme.

“For the new collection, we went back to high school, imagining an ‘art school for witches’. That was the atmosphere, “Wiederhoeft said in an exclusive interview.” In June and July we started writing the script. As for me, I said I wanted to start with the product, but I also have difficulty if I don’t have a plot in mind, so it got a lot easier once we started brainstorming the characters. The horse girl would like to wear the dress with the boys, or the fashion girl maybe would like something punk. This helps me design and it all comes together in the end.

“I wanted to reimagine these characters that we all play in our lives. At school, I was the costume nerd in the drama club. It seems to be something everyone can relate to, especially among people who love my clothes. They all refer to being a stranger, growing up and being cool. We wanted to reproduce these archetypes: the crazy theater teacher, the horse girl, the actor who takes himself very seriously, the trendy girl – they have this whole range of characters. “

The brash concept of “high school characters auditioning for acting club play” in the collection film, titled “Wiederhoeft Academy of Magical and Performing Arts”, has rightly emerged, as has ready-to-wear , which injected humorous and campy narrative with clever, realistically wearable details.

The rtw represents a major step forward for Wiederhoeft, who launched her brand in 2019 after cutting her teeth at Thom Browne after graduating from Parsons School of Design, where she won the “Women’s Designer of the Year” award. It started with conceptual, evening and special occasion garments inspired by the theater and now, two years and four collections later (including the bride’s debut), it’s expanding into a full collection by rtw.

“We opened the showroom in March,” Wiederhoeft told WWD during an appointment at its Garment District showroom in Manhattan. “I was going to dinner with a friend who said, ‘I’d like to wear something fun for dinner,’ while I was sitting in this room full of clothes thinking, ‘Oh, I have nothing to wear!’ Also for me, my friends and my circle, I want to see people dressed up every day. It’s all part of the same world, of course, but completing this wardrobe. I love making clothes for special occasions, but it’s just as powerful to make clothes for every day, it’s when we live our lives. “

The idea sparked the designer translate her ideas, silhouettes and extravagant and fantastic emotions into clothes for the real world; last June, Wiederhoeft was designing what would become its sturdiest collection to date.

“At the beginning of the brand, I felt it was important to release as many collections as possible, and now I’m realizing it’s better to slow down and focus on making quality products,” he explained, adding: “I think the pandemic has been a great time for all of us to reflect on what’s really important, creating pieces that are important. There are enough clothes in the world already, so I wanted to make sure everything we release was something that should be there, not just more stuff. “

Pre-fall is certainly not “just more stuff”. Her collection displays breadth and talent, ranging from novelties, everyday knitwear and cut and sewn garments to modern evening and excellent tailored outerwear. Even with the wide range of styles, the collection works together and is filled with the broad personality that forms the DNA of the smart and playful brand from Wiederhoeft.

“We made this jacket and coat to measure; I hadn’t really done tailoring since Thom’s time [Browne].… It’s a fun, all-round time. I don’t think that’s normally what people would associate the brand with at this point, but it makes sense within the narrative, ”he explained.

“I’m so proud that he goes out on his own,” Thom Browne told WWD of Wiederhoeft. “One, he is brave, but it is also something that I personally think is important … It is rare to see a young designer who is true to himself and has the confidence to seize the opportunity and put out something that is not only personal, but is really saying something … He did a good job of putting some interesting ideas in front of people. ”

When asked where the pre-fall collection started, Wiederhoeft replied: “I felt it was the first time I was thinking about it from a product rather than a narrative.”

In pre-fall, the up-and-coming designer first introduced jewelry (inspired by his long-standing hobby of collecting vintage balls), knitwear, tailoring, outerwear, shirts and so much more. Plunging your toes into a myriad of categories was also a strategic move.

“Since ready-to-wear is new to us, it’s seeing what people care about. There is such a range; I wanted to lay the groundwork and build from there, “he explained, later noting:” For example, one place I’ve really explored is the artwork in cut-and-sew jerseys. If we were going to make sweatshirts, they had to be imaginative. “

While the designer noted that the line was first product-driven, a seasonal narrative soon followed, stemming from the idea of ​​presenting the collection through a scripted short film.

Within the film, Shiva Baby’s Rachel Sennott (who wore one of the designer’s looks at the film’s premiere) appears as the film’s acting club professor, wearing the flawlessly customized, floral, cherub Wiederhoeft jacquard corset. and bow with round hem matching knee-length pencil skirt, and attitude to match. The silhouette also arrived in baby pink double-sided satin with large carnation embroidery, as seen by the Danielle Mareka model under a floral tapestry jacquard tailored overcoat. Austin Goodwin, with whom Wiederhoeft collaborated to write the script, sports a jacquard dropped-waisted dress with three-dimensional bow and hearts with a tailored blouse in heavy white satin crepe on the back and silver jewelry with pendants branded with cherubs and medallions; Paperboy Prince, the “student body president,” wears a playful pink “Wiederhoeft Academy” printed cotton terry hoodie worn over a green corduroy cargo dress, complete with a hand-decorated pink teardrop crystal purse; model Teddy Quinlivan wears a light pink quilted cotton fitted corset dress with fox fur pom poms and matching belted cargo puffer jacket (finished with custom engraved silver logo buttons), and ballerina Martha Graham Leslie Andrea Williams wears an argyle, feather shaker as the school’s “Principal Dancer”.

“It felt important to us – we had 16 people in the cast – to highlight the people who are truly in line with the brand in terms of identity, be true to themselves, be interesting and trendy and not be afraid to speak up and stand up for themselves. It was fun to play everyone’s persona, ”noted the designer. “This training collection reflects on queer identity within a magical context, defining a sense of identity in a world where we become our heroes, “echoed the notes of the show.

Also spotted in the cast of characters: an oversized pullover printed with fake “Lady of the Lake” movie poster graphics and crystal embroidery (worn with a cargo puffer jacket and zipped cargo shorts) or cut-and-sew “Renaissance Festival” graphics T-shirt with a vintage and modern touch; bespoke formal wear and everyday dresses with nostalgia inspired by fantasy, ballet and theater at Wiederhoeft (like a tailored blouse with hand-drawn “crazy bow” buttons or cool cargo designs). A variety of new knits in compact viscose (colorful cycling shorts! Fingerless gloves!) And merino wool (a fantastic oversized diamond cardigan) completed the collection.

“It’s a brand for people who aren’t necessarily trendy, but are trendy. For people who probably buy a lot of vintage, they shop for the piece itself rather than the weight. For me too, this collection was all about the things I love. For the bride or the evening, it’s the design for this abstract person, and in a way a lot of this collection are things that I want to wear too. In a way, I’m also one of my best clients in the collection ”.

Ahead of the collection’s release, Wiederhoft had already gained a following of celebrities such as Rihanna, Lil ‘Kim and Chloe Bailey; she also dressed Lady Gaga in a custom pink bow decorated costume for her 2020 music video, “Stupid Love”. Without a doubt, the designer’s pre-fall collection will appeal to a wider audience and draw attention from the red carpet to the city streets.

But the garments not only look good, they also feel good. Wiederhoeft understands the importance of production quality, lead times and procurement. With the help of his intimate team (a full-time assistant, a new external sales team and product developer), Wiederhoeft was able to successfully pivot into rtw, citing manufacturing across the New York Design District ( for jewelry, tailoring, corsetry and evening styles), Italy (cargo group and merino wool knitwear) and Los Angeles (compact viscose knitwear) with customized, stock and Italian manufacturing.

Opening to the wholesale market for the first time, in the preseason calendar, at the price of emerging designers (starting at $ 240 for fisherman hats with bow, up to $ 7,990 for the collection’s electric yellow oversized sweatshirt with embroidery of allover carnations), Wiederhoeft offers a little something for everyone while feeling equally unique and special. Each piece offers ample personality and fun, without the gimmick or excessive feel of the market.

The designer, who previously ran all of his consumer-direct businesses for wedding and occasion wear, plans to stick to the preseason calendar in the future and hopes to unveil his second rtw offering in May.

“[During the pre-season] it’s also where we’re trying to give buyers the best possible advantage. We are small, so delivering early is something we can compete on. Where can we possibly get a head start, releasing the collection in early December, delivering in June, [we’re] trying to give people a reason to believe it, “he remarked.” Answer [from retailers] it will be useful for us to understand the next steps “.

Separated from his pre-fall collection, the designer is equally busy designing 50 looks for the upcoming one-night play, New Year’s Eve, at the Nemacolin Resort in Pennsylvania.

“It just happened a couple of weeks ago. It will be an engaging and theatrical experience for the guests. The whole creative team is coming from New York … we already rehearsed last weekend. They are doing several numbers and taking over the resort – there is a lot of the creative team of people dancing or directing at Sleep No More, even some of the lights and scenery. That’s a lot – Maggie Hardy Knox and PJ Magerko running things over there, they’re super artistic and creative. Fortunately, I often go there for several takes – they are heavily invested in a very high level of production and art. I designed their new uniforms last year, “he explained.” These guys at Nemacolin, they get it: what they’re doing with their brand is amazing. Peeping into this artistic and queer world is really cool to watch. “

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