Libertine Fall 2021

Johnson Hartig, Libertine’s creative director, is a man known for sequins, sparkle, and maximalism. Even a global pandemic and decreased customer spending couldn’t rain on his bedazzled, embellished, and appliquéd parade as the brand looks to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Rather than skew to more minimalist or athleisure creations, like many of his colleagues have this season, Hartig went over-the-top in full force.

Inspired by the baroque era, made evident by the backdrop used in this virtual presentation, Johnson Hartig implements a modern distillation on baroque by borrowing and updating embellishments and gold leaf often found in baroque art and architecture. This point of view is risky and could look like a tacky costume flashback, not so in this collection. Johnson Hartig ingeniously approached the baroque aesthetic with a modern point of view that made this collection both vintage and innovative at the same time.

Libertine’s opening look for their virtual runway show, shown via the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA) Runway360 online platform, featured a giant bow made up of layers of tulle and adorned with crystals. It was quite the way to tell someone “heads up, lots of ostentatious fashion coming through.” This was followed by a mixed-media pattern dress paired with a mixed-media patterned, oversized floppy hat and a multi-patterned black dress.

Libertine continues to be that brand that encourages us to wear pattern on pattern, because the strength of power clashing should never be underestimated. A classic green and red plaid shirt was the underlayer for a literally gold-leafed black blazer look for your less than classic tailored suiting. It was perhaps the most high fashion the wooded farm boy aesthetic is ever going to get. Leave it up to Hartig to not only go beyond the grain, but potentially reinvent it.

Images courtesy of runway360.com

While Hartig is known for tons of colors, patterns, and embellishments, something about this season was a bit different. This time, the approach felt more like a symbol of positivity, that, even in one of humanity’s darkest and difficult hours, fashion and creation give us something to look forward to. When all hope is lost, live out loud, even with your fashion choices, for tomorrow will hopefully bring bluer skiers and even bolder outfits. Hartig dared us to dream again, and as we attempt to emerge from a pandemic world, dreams will hopefully come true.

—Kristopher Fraser

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