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September 19, 2020

Ulla Johnson: Femininity for Fall, Togetherness for Spring

As a native New York designer, Ulla Johnson is cultivating an influential sphere of success in her home city, with new stores, billboards, and a devoted audience all attesting to her popularity.

She’s been on our radar lately: both her Fall 2020 collection last week and her Spring 2021 yesterday, which was streamed as part of New York Fashion Week, has brought her to the forefront of Casper Magazine’s fashion news. The latter collection is centred around the designer’s ‘Love Letter to New York City’, highlighting both her love for her hometown and, more broadly, the revelations that the circumstances of this year have imparted.

Fall 2020: The Nuanced Feminine

Johnson’s Fall 2020 collection is a study in assertive femininity. Structured tailoring and shaped leather create sharp silhouettes, while elsewhere flowing silks stand in contrast: opposites meet in a nuanced embodiment of the modern feminine. The puffed shoulders of Johnson’s outfits alongside tapered waists call to mind the unapologetically bold woman of the 1980s, but more than anything, it’s the diversity of womanhood that subtly takes centre stage for this collection.  

Crochet floral dresses remind us of the traditionally feminine labour of crafts that is celebrated in Johnson’s collection and her personal success. Solid monochrome dresses are modelled next to vibrant colours, patterns, and textures in an incredible variety of cuts, ranging from narrow, floor-length skirting to asymmetrical ruffles to tapered trousers. None of this diverges, however, from her iconic Bohemian chic – it simply extends the allure with a myriad of options.

Spring 2021: Unity and Love

Debuted at Roosevelt Island’s Four Freedoms Park without an audience, the Spring 2021 collection is dedicated to ‘togetherness’, with Johnson penning a letter that celebrates the connections between people and the actions that bind us. The letter foregrounds the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on each of us, paying tribute to essential workers, first responders, our neighbours, and our loved ones as we navigate ‘the most complicated of times’. For Ulla Johnson, New York is ‘now and forever the beating heart of the world’, forming the central inspiration for her Spring 21 collection.  

‘In quiet moments we discover the joys of making things with our own hands. We learn the journeys of creativity and inspiration the mind can take even as the body remains still, rooted in this place and time.’ – Ulla Johnson.

Fans of Johnson may note that this Spring’s collection features a few more neutral colours than usual, as well as more emphasis on practicality. Ribbed tee shirts and tanks combined with acid-wash denim are only a part of the collection, however, with plenty of the classic ruffles and vivid prints we’ve come to expect from the designer making their appearance. Johnson’s love of travel shone through in her incorporation of Japanese techniques, while outfits were accented by jewellery made by artisans in Nairobi. Like the Fall collection, flowing dresses dominated here, with sleek cuts and statement belts once again highlighting the silhouette.

September has been a wonderful month for Ulla Johnson, with showcases of both collections highlighting her unique, free-flowing style. From assertive femininity to a celebration of unity, the New York-based designer has delivered consecutive collections of excellence, and it’s only fitting that it’s at New York Fashion Week that they came to the fore.  

To learn more about Ulla Johnson, visit her website here.  

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