BY EMILY FARRA
When Amy Smilovic was designing her spring 2021 collection, every piece had to meet a specific criteria: Could she wear it in her living room without feeling ridiculous? If anything felt even a little bit forced, it was swiftly cut. That isn’t to say this is a collection of sweatpants, though she did point out a few pullovers, sweat shorts, and comfy trousers in elevating shades of sapphire and emerald. Her team loved them so much, they decided to start producing them right now, and will re-cut them again in February when we’re no doubt still in need of loungewear.
But those pieces account for just a fraction of the collection. Smilovic knows women aren’t interested in spending every single day in jersey and fleece, and she knows that fashion is definitely not “over,” despite what so many headlines have insisted. She found her inspiration for spring in 1930s films—not in the clothes, exactly, but in the spirit with which they were worn. Amidst the Great Depression, style was neither over-the-top fantastical nor depressingly subdued. Similarly, the two poles we’ve forecast for “after the pandemic”—escapist fashion vs. practical athleisure—feel too extreme.
If anything, it’s only convinced Smilovic that she’s better off trusting her gut and her team’s. Spring 2021 marks the first season since she cut a significant chunk of her wholesale business—namely department stores—to focus on specialty boutiques and direct sales, and the collection is about a third of the size as a result. By trimming the fat, she zeroed in on the pieces she really believes in: round-shoulder blazers, trousers that sit lower on the hips, cut-out bodysuits, sculpted sweatshirts, and lots of removable collars and ruffles, for women who just want to spice up what they already own. There were touches of crochet and hand-knit sweaters for a sense of home, too; the lookbook was shot outside of Smilovic’s house in Connecticut.
In a calming palette of sage, taupe, and camel, the suits had a relaxed sensibility that would, in fact, feel appropriate in your living room. Smilovic said she’s been living in joggers, but is craving a bit of structure on top with one of those jackets or a shoulder-padded T-shirt. Some call it Zoom dressing; her preferred term is “creative pragmatism,” comfort and quirk in equal parts.