Lauren Manoogian Spring 2024 Ready-to-Wear Collection

“It takes a village….” Lauren Manoogian and Chris Fireoved, who work closely with artisans in Peru, have just wrapped a video project that had them thinking a lot about the collective effort that goes into producing their line. “So many people’s hands are involved in this process; human hands that are actually doing things that they have a lot of pride in,” said Manoogian. “I feel like what sets our brand apart is that we still can do a lot of handmade processes that are very complicated and time consuming.” The lightness of this collection belied that effort. Airiness was another quality that defined this offering, on openwork crochet-knits, wovens, and nylon pants or gauzy skirts that you could see the linings through.

The mood of the collection was set by the first look, a draped and twisted dress made from one piece of fabric that Manoogian constructed on herself. “The pattern looks like a blob,” joked Fireoved; the end result was elegant and easy. It was designed within the limits set by the narrow width of the fabric; Manoogian worked in the opposite direction with hand-pleated looks that gathered broader widths of fabric inwards. By adapting to, and working with, the limits of the fabric, it was as if Manoogian entered into a gentle dialogue with the materials. “As a designer you can’t be so rigid, you have to just keep flowing with whatever’s happening in the process,” she said. This collection, which was particularly harmonious, had a nice ebb and flow between textures and techniques. Manoogian described it as being “softer and more fragile and more delicate…and sort of vulnerable too.”

Softness was there in the gentle slope of a bias hand-knit; fragility in the raw edges of sweaters made of shredded pieces of fabric worked into a textured weave. Basket making was on Manoogian’s mind and this fluid under and over pattern might work as a metaphor for a harmonious collection that took into account the perfect imperfections of handwork and those of the fibers. You can “massage them into doing what you want, but in the end, the material has its inherent value and it’s kind of going to do its own thing anyway,” said the designer who managed to work with, not against the grain, and in so doing created a collection that went with the flow while at the same time having a point of view.

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