BACKSTAGE AT ULLA JOHNSON FW '22
Go behind the scenes at Ulla Johnson's Fall 2022 Runway Show.
An Interview with Ulla Johnson
At Hampden have a devout sect of Ulla Johnson followers. Both clients and employees alike relish in the feeling of their first sight of new Ulla prints and silhouettes each season. However, many people are yearning to know more about the woman behind the beautiful designs. Can you tell us a bit of your origin story and why you started the brand?
I’m a native New Yorker and have a long standing obsession with fashion. School influenced me enormously. I was particularly interested in fashion theory and the way clothes make women feel - how they can serve to empower the wearer. This point of view informs everything about the way I design and why I create clothes for women. Additionally my mother was a huge collector and archaeologist so we traveled a lot when i was growing up. A love of textiles was definitely something that had been instilled in me.
Over the past few years and collections, your brand has grown tremendously. With it, has come a series of more sophisticated silhouettes and patterns. How do you move your customer forward with your creative vision while still staying true to the original DNA of the brand?
In a way, I guess I always kind of start with myself. I live in the city, I travel a lot, I go to the beach in the summer, I work. I want things that are extremely versatile, that look and feel beautiful yet have a sense of ease. Each collection is an natural progression from the previous. Everything is designed with great thought and intention, crafted to empower its wearer.
With sustainable practices at the forefront of minds in the fashion world, what steps are you taking at Ulla Johnson to ensure that these efforts remain an important part of each collection?
We care deeply about our impact and while far from perfect, we are working diligently to do better. We have been utilizing biodegradable hangers and poly bags for a number of years, in an effort to cycle out plastic entirely. Notably we have just launched premium denim on our Fall 22 runway, it is something I’ve been working on for a few years. It’s everything I’ve always wanted from denim - impeccable quality of fabrication, made responsibly in LA. Innovative and sustainable practices have been used to minimize chemicals and reduce water usage.
Now it's time for the tough questions. We end every interview with a few Qs to get to know you outside the world of fashion for a peek into your daily life. Coffee or Tea?
Wine, Water, or Martini?
Milan, Paris or NYC?
I’m a born & bred New Yorker. I love my city. Paris has a piece of me too.
Dogs or Cats?
Beach or Mountain?
Impossible to choose but given it is the depth of winter in New York right now, I’ll say the beach!
Morning Person or Night Owl?
I have 3 children, I’m an early riser.
Your fabulous Spring ‘22 and Pre-fall ‘22 collections both had a fresh, utilitarian feel, with an emphasis on embroidery and the craftsmanship of each piece. As you beautifully stated to WWD about your Pre-fall ‘22 show, “escapism and fantasy” were central parts of the inspiration for the collection. How would you describe your Fall ‘22 collection?
Fall explores a contrast between the radiant and distorted. It’s a patchwork of delicate contrasts and luxe imperfections. Baroque psychedelic!
At Hampden we love to discuss, “where is she going?”. It is a way for us to understand what kind of woman is wearing each piece, what are her needs, how is she feeling when wearing it, and most importantly, how is she living in it. When creating a collection, do you envision a particular woman as inspiration? Has that woman evolved over the past several years and how? Is there one particular place in the world you see her going?
My vision is always more languid and roving than something inspired by a specific trend, or era or muse. Travel is really the jumping point for everything. I try to make things - these mélanges of Color, crafts and culture - that are joyful and transporting.