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St. John Pre-Fall & Fall 2019 Collection

St. John has to maintain a tricky balancing act: On one hand, the ’60s-era label has a base of dedicated clients whose closets are lined with its signature, candy-color tweed skirtsuits. But on the other, the brand is eager to engage with a younger customer and become part of the fashion conversation. In recent seasons, that’s mostly come down to loosened-up silhouettes; an emphasis on separates, not full-on suits; and relevant styling tweaks. Instead of pairing everything with pumps, for instance, Greg Myler is showing his dresses and tailoring with strappy flat sandals.

For Pre-Fall, he seemed to pick up on the earthy colors and “nomadic” silhouettes in the air. Several dresses came in caftan-like silhouettes, and there was a creamy, zip-up ivory poncho with graphic black piping. The brand’s classic tweed jacket, which has been lightened up and deconstructed to feel more like a cardigan, came with exaggerated raffia trim. The overall vibe was relatively subdued, and it was hard to picture a fashion-forward woman getting excited about most of it. But there was a welcome jolt of energy in a new black-and-white zebra jacquard. The pattern is quickly replacing leopard as 2019’s go-to animal print, and it looked unexpectedly glamorous on a long-sleeved, to-the-floor knit evening gown.

St. John Pre-Fall 2019 Collection

For the last few seasons, the St. John brand has been hyper-focused on reinterpreting its 56-year-old m.o. The design team has opted for ease over aspirational elegance and separates as opposed to buttoned-up suits and fancy eveningwear. For Fall 2019, St. John is continuing to experiment with new shapes, new ways of styling, and a new aesthetic language for St. John. It’s a label with a lot of resonance among women of a certain age, but one that remains mostly unknown to their daughters and their daughter’s daughters.

This season’s offering was smart in the way that it played to all of those customers: a sophisticated sequined black knit evening top and matching pants for the longtime fan of the brand; a striped, multicolored long-sleeved dress with a pleated skirt and an unlined knit jacket, meant to be paired with jeans or a black-tie gown, for the St. John neophyte. The outerwear also targeted a diverse group of shoppers. There was fuzzy leopard for the Insta-concerned woman, and a beautifully tailored camel overcoat for her well-heeled, more classically chic counterpart.

Overall, the new collection presented nice textural elements and a range of easy, highly wearable separates and silhouettes. In fact, the separates here outshone some of the more formal, red carpet appropriate garments. The St. John team is designing clothes that can work for a lot of women.

St. John Fall 2019 Collection

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