Cult Brand Maryam Nassir Zadeh Has a Whole New Aesthetic

Of all the shows at fashion week, Maryam Nassir Zadeh has left the inkiest imprint on my mind. It contained all the right ingredients to produce something heart-thumpingly indelible: Solange singing like a low-key earth angel as unsuspecting joggers plodded past the lineup of strikingly cool non-model models and a gritty location (the East River track next to the FDR drive) that contrasted artfully with the femininity of the clothes.

The clothes. They were a delight by every measure, not to mention impeccably styled by Camille Bidault-Waddington (who is famous for seamlessly marrying kitsch with elegance, and this instance was no exception).

Since launching her in-house collection in 2012, Nassirzadeh has consistently tapped into the subtle nuances of what people want to wear before they even know it themselves, similarly to the way in which many great designers do, but perhaps even more acutely in that MNZ still retains a special, diamond-in-the-rough feeling of discovery by virtue of its cultish origins.

Even though the brand’s aesthetic has progressed into widely-known territory, not to mention widely-imitated (the suede block-heel mules have become a cool girl calling card, and the purposely unfussy film photography shot Juergen Teller-style is now de rigeur amongst fledgling labels making a name for themselves on Instagram), Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s DNA remains distinctive as ever, even as it evolves.

And evolve it has. Nassirzadeh’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection marks her transition away from minimalism — the style movement, it’s worth noting, that made her aesthetic resonate in the first place. The clothes this season were festooned with sequins, rhinestones, shades of neon, sheer gingham, polka dots and florals. Shoes, bags and belts were rendered in raffia, resin and crystals. Exaggerated sleeves and pockets were abound, topped off with top stitching, bows and ruffles. It was a joyously odd, playfully chic 80s-meets-50s mashup.

The shift toward maximalism likely has to do with Nassirzadeh’s keen understanding of who the the MNZ girl is, and how her taste is changing. (She has an advantage in that this persona is epitomized in herself and her very stylish friends, many of whom walked in the show on Tuesday.) This collection hits the sweet spot of where personal style has landed in this post-normcore age of Instagram, wherein anonymity is out and “trying” is in as long as it is executed with authenticity.

The stylistic precision of each look (particularly the use of belts) spoke directly to this trend of deliberate thoughtfulness, while the quirkier elements (biker shorts, artsy chokers, velour bralettes) positioned this overt intentionality as a manifestation of dressing for yourself, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

The ink of this sentiment has already pooled into freshly-cracked-open possibilities for how I want to get dressed. I’m itching to dip into it — and that itch is what fashion, at its best, is all about.

Photos by Edith Young.

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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