How a trip to the California desert inspired her graphic pre-fall collection.

Credit: Courtesy of Zero + Maria Cornejo

Last June, fashion designer Maria Cornejo and her design director took a trip—“an inspiration day”—to Joshua Tree National Park. “I don’t look at magazines, I don’t do vintage,” says Cornejo. “For me, art and nature are what’s inspiring.”

Along with an appreciation for the power of huge swathes of emptiness, Cornejo came away with the basis for her Zero + Maria Cornejo pre-fall collection, a sand- and tobacco-hued paean to the American west. “I’m forever looking at things in a very pattern-driven way and that’s how I photograph,” she says. “First I take the panoramic touristy shot and then I take the one I could use for a print.”

Some of her photos were translated almost verbatim to fabric, as with an image of moss formations that became a print called Stone Roses. Another image, of tree branches, evolved into a jacquard that looks like a freehand map of the constellations. The austere landscape crept into the collection via more conceptual routes, too, notably in crisp white shirts paired with dark colors, a reference to the daily uniform of Georgia O’Keefe. “Looking at the vastness of the landscape, devoid of buildings, I understood why an artist would live in the desert,” Cornejo says. “It’s beautiful.”

Credit: Courtesy of Zero + Maria Cornejo
Credit: Courtesy of Zero + Maria Cornejo