Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear
The fashion world might just have woken up to the wonders and delights of camp, but exaggeration, humor, and the grand gesture have always been Libertine’s core values. Maximalists, rejoice! It would be wrong to equate consistency with predictability, however; Johnson Hartig is always evolving his collection, and he really shook things up for Fall 2019 by moving his show from New York to his hometown of Los Angeles. This change was instigated in large part by a collaboration he did with the Jimi Hendrix estate and Fred Segal Sunset. Given unprecedented access to the rock legend’s memorabilia, the designer developed a capsule collection. Mixed in among the Libertine looks were pieces in a changeant lamé fabric woven with Hendrix’s handwritten lyrics that Hartig developed. “Hendrix was the original libertine,” the designer said.
Up there with Hendrix, at least in Hartig’s world, is the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre through whom the designer channeled his existential angst over the environment and the dysfunctional state of politics. Hartig’s no Morrissey; his type of protest sees no merit in wearing black. “I love creating prints, it’s one of my favorite things, and relatively new to me,” the designer said excitedly during a collection preview. Among the patterns of the season was Figgy Pudding, based on a 19th-century botanical; Memento Mori, which mixed Flemish paintings with Ottoman motifs and a rogue Louis Quatorze settee; and the statement-making Being and Nothingness, featuring a a portrait of Jean-Paul Sartre and a reproduction of the Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich’s masterpiece, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, with nothing or zilch scattered here and there—words that make sense in relation to existentialism, but which otherwise have absolutely no resonance in Libertine’s universe where everything is more than extra.
Hartig’s love of decoration isn’t superficial; he finds real joy and hope in color, tinsel, ribbon, and shine. True to form, all of these elements were prominently on display (sometimes all at once). The most OTT pieces in the collection, for men and women, were literally strung with ribbon-wrapped baubles, clothing labels, measuring tapes, garlands of bottle caps, mirror-covered ribbon—“All the things I love,” said Hartig—which made a sweet sort of music as the models walked.