Maria Cornejo/Zero

Location: New York, New York
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Maria Cornejo’s specialty is softly minimal women’s clothing. She finds inspiration in the world around her—the manmade and the natural as well as from her own keen observations of people “wearing the wrong clothes.” Her remedy for this is her individual, well-made, wearable designs that flatter just about anyone, even though she claims she likes to “dress brainy women.”

Her interest in architecture and nature is evident in both the forms and the construction of her garments. She uses volume and circular shapes as her starting points, manipulating them with unexpected results, such as a skirt that has the shape of a tulip or a coat which, through drape and seaming, envelops the body like a cocoon or shell. Her recent collections have featured a series of garments— both tops and bottoms—with gathered hems that create a gently puffed silhouette. While her clothes can be characterized as spare, minimal, and modern, they are never stiff or austere.

One can imagine Cornejo spending long hours playing with fabrics to discover how they will behave when stretched, ruched, or folded. From the nonchalant way her pieces caress and compliment a woman’s curves, it is not immediately evident that she has carefully studied how they will fall when draped on a body. In fact, many of her garments are cut and draped from a single piece of fabric. Using a muted palette that occasionally erupts into bursts of vivid color, Cornejo also likes to combine unlikely fabrics and forms. She often makes soft forms from crisp fabrics like seersucker, and delights in the way folding the fabric across the surface of a dress will create layers that seem more natural than calculated.