Summary: After Johnson Hartig’s extremely colorful collection for Libertine last season, “It seemed like the natural genesis to do something more stark and black and white this season,” he told me backstage before his Friday night presentation at Exit Art. Although his palate for Spring 2012 is more condensed, there’s nothing muted about Hartig’s aesthetic, or this season’s vibrantly printed collection.
The sartorial tic tac toe that Hartig plays this season actually gained its inspiration from a doodling exercise the designer did in his studio. “I would do pages and pages of circles and x’s and o’s and I took them into the studio one day and started messing around with the Xerox machine — of course the Xeroxes were black and white — so I made screens and started experimenting and it all happened very organically and naturally.”
The prints are strikingly articulated and embody Hartig’s witty design aesthetic. He’s an antagonistic designer who clearly enjoys pushing the envelope (some garments are printed with the phrase, “Tax the Rich More”), but not so far that it cheapens his garments, or renders them unwearable. While seemingly audacious, there’s an exacting cohesiveness to this collection that resembles his work for last season. The visual leitmotif of stripes is a vertical presence in each look, from the tights to the shoes to the gloves, jackets and garments. This visual refrain is echoed in every minute detail, a true strength of Hartig’s.
As always, this collection shows Hartig’s excitement for his design and the forward vision that separates him from many of his contemporaries. Not only are his clothes a joy to experience, but they communicate a fresh perspective that defies the traditional characteristics of seasonal design. As surely as he is a designer, Hartig is a true artist — one whose vision I hope stays implanted in the fashion world for years to come.
Colors: Black, white, fuchsia, red, grey, blue, hot pink, ivory
Textures and Fabrics: tweed, knit, lycra, cotton, wool, silk, graphic print, crystals, embroidery, quilted, organdy, wool boucle, plaid, graphic printing, applique embellishments, embroidery
Key Looks: Red, black and white striped satin long-sleeve gown with a front slit, deep v-neck and matching belt; short high-waisted white shorts with “o” print, short sleeve black top with “x” print, and black and white striped jacket; long-sleeved ivory dress with a pleated skirt, high collar and “x” and “o” print; black cape over a black “x” and “o” printed trench coat with a matching red interior, black and white striped tights and matching black and white striped dress.
— Amanda Aldinger
Photos: NY Mag, Second City Style