Since releasing his last collection Jonathan Cohen has opened a small boutique on Madison Avenue where his neighbors include Akris, Dolce & Gabbana, and Prada—it’s a mom and pop shop in the land of corporate giants.
Cohen left the runway pre-pandemic, betting on a pre-season schedule and a DTC business. It wasn’t an easy decision for a brand barely out of the emerging phase, but putting the money he saves on fashion week expenses into e-comm and, lately, an IRL location provides invaluable customer research. He and his business partner Sarah Leff split their time on the sales floor and they know a silhouette is a success when ladies from the building across the street call up to order the look from the shop window. Conversely, when multiple customers ask for the same alterations (which are handled on the premises), Cohen knows he has to adjust the pattern in his factory.
Though small, the shop is decorated with resin skateboards incorporating the brand’s fabric scraps by Djivan Schapira (retail: $1,850), and a mirror and side tables by Fernando Mastrangelo (price upon request), as well as a selection of accessories and home goods from the hat-maker Gigi Burris and the woodworker behind Seven Cedars. Localism is essential to the formula here. It’s part of Cohen’s commitment to responsible design. At a preview, he elaborated on a new initiative on that front. This season’s embroidered leather trench and flower appliquéd leather sheath and button-downs are made from hides processed with an innovative silk finishing technique by the biotech company Evolved by Nature that eliminates the chemicals and pollutants typically used by the industry. The leather is notably supple.
As ever, flowers are a recurring motif. Their painterly, almost drippy aspect was the result of Cohen’s research into female artists including Lee Krasner, Judi Regal, and Frida Kahlo. Highlights include a silk cady pantsuit in a blue matilija poppy print and a bustier and ball skirt in a orangey-red graphic floral in bonded cotton taffeta. Both looks are as bold as the women who inspired them. A knit maxi dress in “melting” rainbow stripes will make a similarly big statement.
Cohen is a designer who knows his way around a pretty dress; making a star turn here is a marigold silk jacquard number with a scooped neckline, thin straps, and a seamed bodice. It’s a sexy-for-him shape that his retail partners originally passed over only to pick up when he did such a bang-up business with it in his own shop, another perk of thinking locally and designing responsibly.